WATCH: New Song from Passing Through

Last Monday I hosted Musi-CAL, a bimonthly concert celebrating new works of Musical Theatre in Los Angeles. I premiered a new song from my musical-in-development Passing Through. It turned out to be perfect timing, as it was announced last week in the New York Times that my book writer Eric Ulloa and I were accepted to the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat to continue working on the piece this summer.

The song is sung by a 73-year-old ranch hand, Dennis, in New Mexico. Our main character, Andrew, is taken in by him for the night and begins to open up with Dennis about his conflict with his dad. In a very fatherly way, the old ranch hand shares his experience with Andrew, offering him a little perspective.

Mind-Hacking the Audition Process

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The relationship between actors and the casting process can sometimes be antagonistic, and that’s super unfortunate. If you find yourself ripping your hair off over the audition/casting process, and feeling resentful toward casting directors who “always bring you in, but never cast you,” consider these 3 mind-hacks: Continue reading Mind-Hacking the Audition Process

A Little New Music

Hey Los Angeles – Looking for something to do next week?

This Fall’s sold-out event A LITTLE NEW MUSIC returns to One of the Hottest Music-Theatre Joints in LA – Rockwell. Next Tuesday, December 10th @ 8pm. Click here for tickets.

Featuring work by Brett Ryback, alongside Joe Iconis (The Black Suits, NBC’s “Smash”), Gregory Nabours (The Trouble with Words), and many more!

Don’t miss it!

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Cultural Swampland

My attention was drawn a while back to an LA Times article discussing a sort of cultural revolution occurring at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).  Longtime curator, Paul Schimmel – “an artist favorite, seen as a champion of ambitious, intensely researched exhibitions” – was recently fired and replaced by Jeffrey Deitch – “who gained his reputation by creating buzzed-about events that often drew on youth culture, [including recent exhibitions in LA] that revolved around high-recognition names, including Dennis Hopper and James Franco.”  The ousting led to the protest and resignation of many board member-artists, including Catherine Opie and John Baldessari.

The article goes on to include other realms of art interacting warily with celebrity and fashion.

MOCA is not the only artistic institution hosting celebrity versus significance face-off. Theater has been at it for years; Broadway not only remakes big, successful film musicals, now it takes on flops (“Newsies”) and indies (“Once”) while bemoaning the lack of original plays.

Now, there’s certainly nothing new about a clash between the “old guard” and the young, up-start newcomers.  “Established” and “safe” often mean the same, and the “language of the people” is constantly evolving (or perhaps “revolving” is a more apt term), so if one doesn’t at least keep an ear out, one will eventually become irrelevant.

If there are any hard and fast rules about art and fashion they are: Continue reading Cultural Swampland

The Bitch is Back

August 22nd, you WILL NOT want to miss this event.

Me and the Queen, Off-Broadway

Those of you who have seen the delectable Olivier Award-winner Lesli Margherita before in All Hail the Queen know what a fun, sexy, and all-out HILARIOUS evening this is.

And now she’s back with a brand new show.

New Songs.
New Stories.
Same Boobs.

AHQ: The Bitch is Back is ONE NIGHT ONLY – Wednesday, August 22nd, 8pm @ Supperclub LA.

Get your tickets now!

It’s like we’re doing the Eiffel Tower, except we’re banging you with our vocal chords.

This is Theatre

I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to see a lot of new plays and musicals.  However, it’s an unfortunately rare experience, given that I see so much, that something really blows me away – particularly, I’m sorry to say, in Los Angeles.  And it’s an even rarer experience to have it happen twice in one month.

Last night I saw Cornerstone Theater Company’s production of Cafe Vida, created in partnership with Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe and presented by the Latino Theater Company.  Cornerstone’s unique brand of theatre incorporates individuals from the community to help tell their own stories.  Sometimes this can make for messy theatre, but often it makes for extremely exciting theatre, especially when those stories are deftly structured by an accomplished playwright, as Cafe Vida was by Lisa Loomer.

Directed by Michael John Garces, it tells the story of two Latinas from two enemy barrios in Los Angeles, who are forced to interact after being released from prison and joining Cafe Vida – a community outreach program (like Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe) that provides hope, training, and support to fomerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community through restaurant services and culinary arts.

Most of the actors are from Homeboy Industries and provide raw, unpolished, but stunningly frank performances of, in some cases, their own life stories.  And these are not easy life stories to tell.  But this type of work is in essence what all theatre aspires to – the spilling forth of personal truths, truths that are almost larger-than-life in their drama and danger, truths worthy of the stage.

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 A couple weeks ago I also had the pleasure of seeing Danai Gurira’s The Convert at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, a co-production with the Goodman Theatre and the McCarter Theatre.

The Convert takes places during the British occupation of Zimbabwe (1895), and tells the story of a young African woman, who comes to live with a Christian African  missionary in order to survive an undesired fate in her tribe community, pitting ancient African traditions against Western culture and Christianity.

Directed by Emily Mann, it’s a riveting three act play, that also highlights theatre at its best – no flashy sets (though beautiful!), no flashy costumes, no flashy word play and wit – but honest, engaging characters thrust into dynamic conflict with each other and the worlds around them.

What is so exciting about each of these plays, is that they each make incredible points without attempting to preach or sucker punch.  They are gritty, they are daring, and they are unapologetic.  It is not pretty, or tv-worthy.  It is not white and middle class.  It is humanity caught in the struggle of life.  This is theatre.  This is theatre.

(Photo credit: Lynette Alfaro, by John Luker; the cast of The Convert, by T. Charles Erickson)