Theatre West Hosts “To Dad With Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen”

Buddy Ebsen is a Hollywood legend…an icon.

He was a larger than life presence in our living rooms as we all grew up watching him on “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Davy Crocket,” and as a pioneer of early Hollywood musicals. But he was also a father. His life, his career and his family are the focus of his daughter Kiki’s and her brother Dustin’s gentle, honest and loving portrait of the man they knew as Dad.

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What’s so effective about this piece to me is the wonderful way both of Buddy’s children have used their own individual and unique talents to create something as precious as this love letter to their father, while also making it entertaining for an audience who didn’t know him at all. Kiki Ebsen is a highly accomplished and very talented singer. She has toured with some of the biggest rock acts in the business as a backup singer and has recorded many of her own material over the years. Her brother Dustin is an award-winning editor and filmmaker and together they have created a show full of beautiful songs with deep connections to Buddy, anecdotes about their life together, and film clips and rare family pictures that all skillfully help to tell the fascinating tale of his life.

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Kiki is a brilliant performer and she warmly welcomes us into her life.

She smiles and laughs and sings and cries her way through her memories of her father in a show brought about by the discovery of an old chest in the back room of her motther’s house months after he died. In this time capsule, she found screenplays and sheet music, costumes and instruments, photos and memorabilia from Buddy’s life well before she was born. She got to know her father all over again in from these sacred pieces of himself he hid away from the world.

Photo: Cliff Lipson

Do we ever truly know our parents?

I know I still have many questions to ask mine and have so many regrets at not having taken the time to ask them while I still could. But we all think we have forever, don’t we? If life has taught me anything it’s that we don’t. Kiki and Dustin have their regrets I am sure, but they also have memories and their love and the brilliant shining life of their father Buddy Ebsen.

Photo: Cliff Lipson

The longer we all live the less we understand and the more we realize what we have lost.

“To Dad With Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen” is a breathtaking thank you to a film star and a Broadway star and a father who gave his children a life they can honor and the talents to do him justice.

Photo: Cliff Lipson

Kiki Ebsen sings with the backing of a truly gorgeous jazz band who brilliantly support her sultry, smoky, bluesy voice. She sings songs her father sang from movies, TV shows and Broadway. She ends with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a nod to the role he lost in “The Wizard of Oz” and the reason he did is just one of the many fascinating facts you will learn about the thoroughly enchanting and forever loved Buddy Ebsen.

This is more than a glimpse into a life, it is a heartfelt and tender “thank you” from a child to a father for her beautiful life. It will give you much pause for thought about your own small world of family and friends and may well make you hold everyone you love just a little closer for just a little longer.

Bravo Kiki and Dustin, thank you for sharing your father with us.

Created by Dustin and Kiki Ebsen

Performed by Kiki Ebsen

Directed by S.E. Feinberg

October 12-14 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.