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“Suburban Showgirl Is a Wonderful One-Woman Journey of Dance, Music and Song!”

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If you knew the end of the world was coming, you might want to have a last laugh enjoying This is the End, featuring a whole gallery of current Hollywood A-Listers hilariously playing exaggerated versions (?) of themselves. Seth Rogen stars and co-wrote and co-directed with Evan Goldberg this apocalyptic comedy in which Jay Baruchel comes to L.A. to visit old friend Seth and winds up being dragged along to a bacchanal at James Franco’s mansion. As Jay’s discomfort level reaches its peak (he’s not crazy about Seth’s new Hollywood friends, particularly Jonah Hill), he and Seth head out to a convenience store—and lo, the end of the world arrives in the form of explosions, mass chaos and a huge earthquake (which sucks in many game guest stars including Rihanna, Jason Segel and Aziz Ansari), as well as the arrival of some lascivious, murderous, and ravenous monsters. Rogen and Baruchel, along with Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson, take refuge at Franco’s house, and all is semi-well (considering it’s the end of the world) until they’re rudely surprised by Danny McBride, who not only has crashed the party, but proceeds to use up many of their supplies for an exorbitantly wasteful breakfast.

Much of This is the End is seriously funny, as the six stars vie for food (especially the Milky Way bar), attention and affection. All the actors are inspired: if you like Rogen, Robinson, Hill, Baruchel and McBride you won’t be disappointed. Michael Cera also scores, playing himself as so coke and sex-obsessed that an errant light pole barely deters him, while an armed Emma Watson makes a welcome appearance until she takes off with the group’s supplies (as the result of a misunderstanding that goes on a little too long). However it is Franco who especially impresses as a screamingly wealthy, secretive, self-centered version of himself who is obsessed with the idea of sacrificing himself to show what a good friend he is---if not in real life, at least with the proposed sequel to Pineapple Express. The idea of sacrifice in the service of friendship runs throughout the hijinks and the carnage, leading to a satisfying ending…at least for most of the cast.

For some reason, The Internship has been gathering some hostile notices. I hope some reviewers aren’t confusing this second Vince Vaughn/Jared Smith-scripted, Shawn Levy-directed collaboration with last year’s The Watch. I mean, The Watch was grim fare indeed with nary a chuckle among the powerhouse cast. The Internship, which reteams Vaughn with Owen Wilson is another matter altogether: light-hearted, fast-paced, genuinely funny at times, while keeping a smile on your face at other times. Vaughn and Wilson are both at the top of their game as career salesmen who are left in the lurch when their watch company goes under. In the ever-changing world of technology, they’re viewed (by others and themselves) as dinosaurs. Vaughn hits upon the idea of interning for Google, and convinces a wary Wilson to brave a Skype interview and join the ranks of summer interns competing for the rare Google paying job.

Much of The Internship can be seen as formulaic; Vaughn and Wilson have to win over their much younger colleagues, as well as their…younger superiors; there are the inevitable screw-ups; there is the one evil guy who wants to sabotage them (although in a nice moment, he says to Vaughn that he doesn’t have to do a thing-Vince can foul up all by himself); some tentative attempts at romance among the younger and the older set; and the inevitable moment when the guys prove they can still be relevant. However, it’s all good clean fun and features some good supporting turns from Assif Mandvi, Rose Byrne and John Goodman, as well as an amusing cameo from Will Ferrell as a man who makes his living with mattresses.

Now You See Me is a lot of fun indeed-- most of the way through. Four magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher) are maneuvered into joining forces by a mysterious benefactor, and one year later, as a group called “The Four Horsemen”, dazzle audiences in Las Vegas with a trick that seemingly involves using an audience member to rob a bank—in Paris—through teleportation. That the trick succeeds all too well brings them to the attention of the FBI (led by Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent) as well as a professional magic-debunker (Morgan Freeman).

From there, the complications mount, and the sleight of hand continues as characters and motives are not necessarily what they seem. While I enjoyed the various twists and turns (though a little Jesse Eisenberg goes a long way), Now You See Me loses momentum at the moment of its biggest trick, consisting of a twist that many might guess in advance—but without an altogether satisfying payoff.


Published in Archived Movie Reviews

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On a perfectly sunny, summer Saturday, my girlfriends and I sipped champagne on our front lawn trying on wigs and attempting to have a garage sale. One of my roommates and fellow singers Alysse was purging all of her beloved clothes and knick knacks to prep for a move to the east coast. Friends were stopping by to give their farewell and pick through her belongings. Alysse has always attracted the most amazing people and it was this day that she introduced me to The Diamond Light.

Published in Archived Music Reviews

written & directed by Jon Cellini
Victory Theatre
through December 3

Webster defines harbor as shelter, refuge... for boats, of course... but the meaning may be extended to include human beings, in regard to harboring - holding onto - feelings, emotions. When Tommy (Matthew Lillard) accuses his ex-wife Jules (Mary Thornton Brown) of "harboring sh-- and never letting go", he places the initial blame for their breakup on her, excusing his own weaknesses and lack of commitment. The connection between Tommy and Jules is but one of the relationships explored in Jon Cellini's engrossing new play Harbor onstage at the Big Victory until December 3.

Jules is seeing Saul (Grinnell Morris), a successful scientist who is crazy about her, but she, for a multitude of reasons, just cannot commit. Then there's Jules' dad, with whom she was quite close (Bob Rumnock; role shared with John C. McLaughlin), who has just passed away. Jules and her sister DeeDee (Luka Lyman) are still grieving, each in her own way. Then there's DeeDee's marriage to loyal Ronnie (P J Marino), which seems the happiest of the lot. There's also Tommy's new wife Christie (Zibby Allen), the complete opposite of Jules in so many ways. She's less sophisticated, to be sure, but warm, caring and easy to get to know and like, as she refuses to hold on to negativity - unlike Jules. Finally there's Justin (Matthew Gardner), Jules' and Tommy's teenage son, trying to deal with his own set of issues as well as to make sense of all the adult turmoil around him. But wait, this is a dramedy, and there are many comic moments to lighten things up.

Cellini has created a very enjoyable evening of theatre in which the main issue is Jules' relationship with Tommy. Despite their divorce, when they come together, sparks fly, both negative and positive. An attraction remains that both must deal with. For Jules who is also dealing with the loss of her father, her father's will - in which Tommy was named inherited owner of his boats, Justin's angst and Saul's moving in on her much too quickly - well, the stress is more than she can bear. There is a great sense of humor within the dialogue, some delightful characterizations, and an overall very realistic approach to the situations that make for a finely tuned play with great potential. My only qualm is that the play begins and ends with Jules. In the opening scene she sees her father before he dies and the closing scene is a fabrication in her mind in which the father and Tommy come together in a peaceful reconciliation. Does this mean that Jules' perspective dominates the entire play? Is it all to be judged subjectively from her viewpoint or is there an objective eye at work here? I see both, but it's not crystal clear if Cellini wants Jules in control of all that comes across, particularly in regard to Tommy's behavior.

Under Cellini's fast-moving direction, the entire cast glows. Brown is engaging from the first scene. She makes Jules real, complex, strong, yet vulnerable. Lillard is an electric presence on stage. He is tall and lanky, and carries himself well, even when he sits and stretches out for comfort. His volatility is intense, yet his tremendous humor makes Tommy's faults seem less affecting than his likability. He's like a big kid who never grew up. As to appealing, all of the actors put humane touches on the characters, making them totally pleasant company. Gardner, especially stands out, making Justin's maturation focused and perceptive.

Harbor's strengths outweigh its flaws, making it simultaneously absorbing and enjoyable to watch. One scene toward the end of Act I in which the whole ensemble play the game Celebrity is laugh-out-loud hilarious, showing without restraint the aggressively competitive nature of each and every player.

Great cast! Go see it through December 3 only!

4 out of 5 stars

The Group Rep presents Agatha Christie’s Classic Murder Mystery


Directed by Shira Dubrovner

Produced by Linda Alznauer for the Group Rep

It’s Fall, and the evenings are cooler.  Halloween is upon us.  What could be more perfect but a classic “whodunit”!  The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre brings us AGATHA CHRISTIE’S Classic Murder Mystery, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, wonderfully directed by Shira Dubrovner and produced by Linda Alznauer for the Group Rep.

PJ Harvey is a well known English Singer/Songwriter, a veteran in the music scene making her professional debut in the 1990’s. Harvey has been known for changing sound with each new album she releases as to not repeat herself twice. Her newest eighth studio album ‘Let England Shake’ is no exception; we see a very unique idea for an album, one that can only be described as courageous with an artist that has a big following.

The album, which was recorded over a five week period in a church giving a slightly airy feel to it, entered the UK album charts at #8. Harvey sticks with one main theme throughout the CD and that is the sense of ‘English Pride’.

It contains strong undertones of patriotism; with one of the titles itself named England. You really do get this sense of English pride from the album, without the pretentious ‘we are better than everyone’ attitude. The artist claimed she researched historical conflicts whilst creating the record, this influence is made very clear by tracks such as ‘The Glorious’ with bugles playing in the intro. On the whole it seems to give off a slightly more upbeat and less folksy Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’ vibe. On the downside the album does start to get a bit repetitive as it nears the middle, and transcends from an individual and bold CD of Glorious England into one long list of why England is good.

Published in CultureShock

Sotto Voce @ ZJU

Zombie Joe may be lots of things, but fauxvocative, he ain’t. He’s the real deal, and his latest neo-Gothic tale might be about exorcizing your demons, but it’s also about getting in touch with them, quite literally.

Burn the Floor at the Pantages

After a successful Broadway run, the electrifying Latin and ballroom dance spectacular BURN THE FLOOR is playing at the Pantages Theatre for a limited 2 week engagement, NOW - May 8, 2011. This Los Angeles engagement features So You Think You Can Dance alumni Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Robbie Kmetoni, Janette Manrara, and Karen Hauer. Also featured is Vonzell Solomon, second runner-up in Season Four of American Idol, who is BURN THE FLOOR's female vocalist.

Featuring 20 champion dancers in an energetic theatrical experience, BURN THE FLOOR has received raves from critics worldwide, including The New York Times which called the show "Dazzling!" and The Times (London), which called it "the summer's hottest ticket!"   This critic adds to these rave reviews...."the best entertainment I have seen in years."  On Opening Night the audience gave a standing ovation with continuous screams of delight throughout the show and it was well deserved.  The consistent high level of energy by the dancers was electrifying. BURN THE FOOR exemplifies why TV or film cannot compare to "live performance."

Every single dancer was magnificent in both technique and as veteran entertainers.  From Harlem's hot nights at The Savoy, where dances such as the Lindy, Foxtrot and Charleston were born, to the Latin Quarter, where the Cha-Cha, Rumba and Salsa steamed up the stage, Burn the Floor takes audiences on a journey through the passionate drama of dance. The elegance of the Viennese Waltz, the exuberance of the Jive, the intensity of the Paso Doble - audiences will experience them all, as well as the Tango, Samba, Mambo, Quickstep and Swing.

BURN THE FLOOR is directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison. Mr. Gilkison, along with dance partner Peta Roby, are Australia's most successful dance couple, winning the World, British and International Ballroom Dance championships.  Recent choreography includes Aspects of Dance in the West End and the Australian tour of Happy Days. He is also a guest choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance in the US & Australia.  BURN THE FLOOR is produced on tour by Harley Medcalf, Joe Watson, Richard Levi, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, March Routh, Raise The Roof One and Toppall/Stevens/Mills, Benigno/Klein, Caldwell/Allen, Carrpailet/Danzansky, Bud Martin, The Production Studio, by special arrangement with Dance Partner Inc.

Tickets for BURN THE FLOOR may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-982-ARTS (2787). Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Pantages Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets. The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, just east of Vine Street, and the box office opens daily at 10am.  The performance schedule for BURN THE FLOOR is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.

Single tickets for BURN THE FLOOR range in price from $25 - $78. Prices are subject to change without notice.

For tickets or more information about BURN THE FLOOR's Los Angeles engagement, please visit the Pantages Theatre's official website,   Don't miss this fabulous show...only here now through May 8



"Boomermania", at the El Portal Theatre, inserts new lyrics into a slew of classic pop songs from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The two-hour musical has no obvious story, and six characters, described in the program as Man 1, Man 2, and Man 3, and Woman 1, Woman 2, and Woman 3. After it's over, you will depart the theater no more or less wise than when you entered.

Yet despite its lack of ambition, "Boomermania" plays quite well, combining songs such as "Stay", "Mony, Mony", "I Can't Help Myself", The Beat Goes On", "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Staying Alive", with economical, engaging choreography, and seductively self-satisfying performances from each cast member. Most of the songs spoof rampant consumerism -- frozen food, fast food, big television sets - pop culture fads, disco above all, and, student protests. The creators of "Boomermania", Debbie Kasper and Pat Sierchio, have substituted several clever rhymes for lyrics that will be known by the majority of audience members 50 or over, and probably many younger ones as well.

Kasper and Sierchio risk inciting a riot by turning Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" into a song about cell phones (rhymes with "stoned") but the night I attended, no one in the audience booed or walked out. On the other hand, they deserve the highest praise for choosing the "Na, Na, Na, Na" opening from "Land of a Thousand Dances" for the audience sing-a-long; that version was first recorded by East LA's own Cannibal and the Headhunters in 1965. The show is fast-paced and loud, like bubblegum hits of the 1960s and early 1970s. On occasion, it can be too much, especially the spoken interludes involving whiny teen-agers and their clueless parents. At these times, we are especially grateful when the excellent, three-piece group plays the opening bars of another familiar song, and the actors can go back to being singers and dancers.

The only number that should be immediately removed from "Boomermania" is a straightforward rendering of the mournful ballad "Reflections", which occurs as the obvious images - Dallas, Vietnam, Memphis, the Ambassador Hotel, race riots, Chicago, Woodstock - are projected on a screen above the stage. The somber tone and message are so different from the rest of the two-hour production that one wonders if "Reflections" was added at the insistence of a nervous producer, who wanted to ensure that politics was not overlooked.

Boomermania's superb cast consists of Daniel Amerman (#1 man), Paul Lange (#2), Dylan Vox (#3), Susan Huckle (woman #1), Kimberly Wood (#2), and Alison Friedman (#3). The choreographer is Edward Carignan; Mary Ekler, who plays keyboards in the accompanying band, also serves as musical director.

"Boomermania" runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. through May 15th. Tickets are $42 for all performances.

The El Portal Forum Theatre is located at 5269 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.

For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit

Yafit Josephson gives an accomplished performance in her solo show about a Jewish actress facing down Hollywood's cultural stereotypes. It's marred only by a poorly designed slideshow. Josephson slips easily into various personae, combining characters with caricatures to good comedic effect. The opening has her switching from a formidable military officer to her nervous young self on her first day of compulsory military training in the Israeli army. Highlights include a hilarious mime sequence where she uncomprehendingly attempts yoga and another scene where she gives a goofy impression of a macho guy in an Israeli nightclub. Josephson's tall, slender build, piercing eyes and chiseled face lend her a commanding presence, but it's her prominent proboscis that relegates her to the usual gamut of villainous roles, from terrorist to evil witch - "And no, they didn't have to use a fake nose," she jokes. Her adult journey takes her from the New World back to Israel, where she touches base with her culture, returning to Hollywood with newfound strength of character. Beneath the comedy lies a serious undercurrent stemming from the ongoing war in the Middle East: Land equals identity.

By Pauline Adamek 

Check for show times and tickets 

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