Artistic chairperson of the Actors Co-op, Heather Chesley has stretched her talented artistic limbs through acting, directing, and producing. She has been active at the Actor’s Co-op, as well as the Garry Marshall Theatre, and clearly does not let dust gather around her. Her talents have contributed to the success of a number of productions, including Our Town, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Learned Ladies, and Merrily We Roll Along. Splash Magazine had the good fortune to interview her about the current crisis in live theater.
Cast of “The Learned Ladies” (2012) – Photo by John Dlugolecki
When did the Actors Co-op first begin its long career? Were you involved from the beginning?
Heather Chesley: I think I was in elementary school when Actors Co-op was founded! Hard to believe. The company started in 1987 as a group of actors (including our official founder David Schall). Everyone in the company attended First Presbyterian Church, where our theaters are located. They were looking to support each other and their careers in Hollywood. One thing led to another, first with scene classes and then the first play. Then came the first season and the first official theatre opening (now the David Schall Theatre) in 1989. The second theatre, the Crossley, opened in 1995; and now we are in our twenty-eighth season! I joined Actors Co-op around its twelfth season; that was in 2004. This is my sixteenth season! It is crazy to think about how time flies.
Leslie Spencer, Brent Schindele, and Matt Bauer in “Merrily We Roll Along” (2010) – Photo by Gregory Bell
How about some history of your cheaters. How about a brief timeline of changes as they occurred.
HC: I joined the company in 2004 and was elected to the Board in 2005. In 2008, I started producing shows for Actors Co-op, and I became artistic chairperson in 2010 – which is what I do today. I took a little break due to my mom’s illness from 2013 to 2014. Otherwise, I’ve been here faithfully.
When did you close the theater due to COVID-19? Were you in the middle of a run?
HC: We officially closed March 13 because of the Mayor’s suggestions. Lee Blessings’ A Body of Water was in its final weekend, and Marvin’s Room was planning to open March 20. A Man of No Importance had just finishing casting.
Cast of “Dancing at Lughnasa” (2016) – Photo by Lindsay Schnebly
Over the past weeks, how has COVID-19 impacted your theaters?
HC: Here’s the thing. We are lucky. Our relationship with First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood means we can put our shows on hold but open our doors the second the church does. We are in a position to wait alongside our country; and we are in a position to reach out to our community, our membership, our guest artists and our Theatre Guild. We have members who are at risk, some members with families, and some who are at the frontlines in our hospitals. Many folks are out of work. We are working hard to help where we can.
Are you doing anything right now to keep your live theater going? Streaming? Having virtual meetings? Planning for your next show when you reopen? Auditioning?
HC: At the moment, nothing is streaming. But we are hard at work. Our Executive Committee, public relations, and artistic and production teams are meeting virtually. We are looking at the shape of the year. There are so many unknowns. We are patiently waiting and looking to ways we can be ready when our city says it’s time to return to the boards.
Joseph Barone and Eva Abramian in “Anna Karenina” (2019) – Photo by Larry Sandez
What do you think will be the impact of COVID-19 on live theater in general in Los Angeles? Do you foresee any permanent changes?
HC: The community has gone through so much in the last few years with union changes and changes in tax law. But it is a resilient community. There will always be a need for art- and, more importantly, a desire for art. Great art, often comes from moments like this.
What do you need right now to keep going forward? What would you like from the theater public?
HC: For the moment, I ask that you stay home, wash your hands, and love each other. Get yourselves ready to come back to your lives; and, when you are ready, we’ll be here waiting for you at eight o’clock curtain.
What are some of your future plans?
HC: For the company? I think for Actors Co-op we look forward to entertaining and provoking thought. We look forward to working on new plays and re-visiting the classics. To crying through dramas like this very real life drama. Eventually to laughing again with our audience. Ultimately we want to provide and share in hope. For me? My future plan? Like the company, I plan to continue on in any way the world and theater allows me.
Better Lemons has updated more shows in our calendar with any current postponements, updates, or cancelations due to coronavirus and concerns and actions towards the safety of theatre patrons where larger audiences are expected. Most venues are using directives by Governor Gavin Newsom and California Public Health and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announcements this week as a guide in implementing steps to accommodate for the greater public safety.
The following is a list of venues and shows that we have updated currently. This list includes shows and venues still currently open. Be sure to check with individual venues for any further potential updates or questions.
If you have tickets, please consider either donating your ticket or contacting the venue or show producer for information on available vouchers or rain checks for future shows.
If you have a show that needs updating, please log in and update your show accordingly. If you are postponing, do not delete your event and feel free to email us via our contact form should you need assistance with updating.
Actors Co-op presents Lee Blessing’s “A Body of Water” that opened February 5 for previews with official opening night Friday February 7. The play runs through March 15. Multi award winning actress Nan McNamara serves as director. I sat down with Blessing and here’s what he has to say about the play and mounting this production.
I am always fascinated by your plays. What character is telling the truth? Or is it all a dream…or a nightmare? You keep us on the edge of our seats with your wonderful dialogue. How did A Body of Water come about?
LB: I can’t answer most of these questions, but I will say that the idea for the play occurred to me as I was waking up one morning. I was relatively newly divorced (from a long marriage) and was still feeling the very powerful (for me at least) post-trauma effects of that. In some ways I suppose this is a play about trauma in all its forms. It’s about those moments in life when nothing that we think we know feels real any longer–nothing that we depended on, nothing that we knew in our hearts to be true. This happens to different people for different reasons of course, in different ways and at different points in their lives. But it happens to nearly everyone, I’d argue, whether we’ll admit it or not.
You have been called our greatest American playwright because you deal with issues that are relevant. Sports are a typical love of the American culture and have played into many of your plays, like baseball in The Winning Streak and football in For the Loyal. Do sports play into this piece?
LB: Sports really don’t have a role in this play, unless you count jogging. Actually I have the bad habit (for a playwright) of writing about a great many different phases and aspects of contemporary life as well as many different sorts of people encountering quite a range of challenges. America tends to favor playwrights who stick to a fairly narrow range of issues and styles and sort of do the same thing over and over again, often quite brilliantly. They develop sort of a “shingle” to hang out, so people will know what to expect before even seeing their next play. For whatever reason, I tend not to do that.
Tell our readers about A Body of Water in detail without creating a spoiler alert.
LB: This is such a difficult piece to talk about. It’s highly conceptual, and one really doesn’t want to ruin any surprises or sharp turns that it may contain. I will say that the two people that we meet at the start of play are in their fifties and in great physical health–just as I happened to be when I wrote it. I’ll also say that while it’s hard to talk about the play before seeing it, it’s hard not to talk about the play after seeing it. So feel free to look me up then.
You always lace your plays with a delicious sense of humor. Is there humor here as well?
LB: There is a LOT of humor in this play. And, just like my life, it never fails to make me laugh.
What is the main theme of the play? What do you want audiences to take away after seeing it?
LB: I suppose if the A Body of Water has a theme, it has something to do with the nature of courage and our inability to live without faith. After all, something has to get us through the inevitable traumas.
Do you care to add anything?
LB: If there’s such a thing as music in dialogue, I think this is one of the most musical plays I’ve written. Just don’t expect to hum along.
To purchase tickets for A Body of Water, call 323-462-8460 or visit ActorsCo-Op.org
In this play about lost identity and rediscovering love, a couple in their fifties wake-up in an isolated house above a picturesque body of water, with no idea where they are or why they are there. The situation is further complicated by the arrival of a young woman with questionable explanations. Funny and charming, this lyrical, intriguing drama examines the wisdom of embracing a pure moment of joy…when nothing else is certain.*
Enjoy this interview with the cast of “A BODY OF WATER” at Actors Co-op, running until Mar 15th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.
Rest your feet after all that shopping, get out of that L.A. holiday traffic for a few hours, and slip into a cozy theatre or concert venue during the Holidays!
Los Angeles theatre is alight with dozens of musicals, comedy, cabaret, magic, live radio plays, film and live mash-up productions, classic Dickens, music, dance, variety, and family-friendly shows themed to get you into the spirit of the season.
Here’s is a healthy collection of shows available now and until you are just about ready to ring in the New Year.
ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY (ETC) presents the second show of its 2019-20 Season, the can’t-miss, holiday event of the season, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, adapted by Joe Landry, from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra & Jo Swerling and directed by ETC’s Director of Education and Outreach, Brian McDonald.
Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present the Los Angeles premiere of a new adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play, based on the 1947 Lux Radio Hour, adapted by Lance Arthur Smith, original songs and arrangements by Jon Lorenz, directed by Joseph Leo Bwarie.
“Miracle on 34th Street” brings a heartwarming and classic tale of faith, love, and the gift of miracles to the holiday season, featuring live Foley effects and a score of holiday carols this beautiful story is sure to ring in Christmas for all. OVATION RECOMMENDED PRODUCTION!!! At the Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre.
A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play – The Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play, directed by frequent Porters collaborator Drina Durazo. “Charles Dickens was known for being a performer of his own works; his novels were written with such vivid theatricality that they were almost like plays,” says Durazo. “We’re aiming to recreate the experience of Dickens’ public recitals with a A Christmas Carol, The One-Man Play, and it’s been a great joy exploring this beloved classic by way of Krieger’s dynamic performance.”
Having most recently taken on the roles of Theseus in The Two Noble Kinsmen and director of Romeo and Juliet, Associate Artistic Director Gus Krieger portrays over thirty characters in this telling of Dickens’ classic tale. Having assumed iconic roles for the company including Richard III, Shylock, Benedick, and King John, Krieger is thrilled to return to the boards of North Hollywood.
A Los Angeles holiday tradition is back with some show veterans for just a few dates in a special engagement! It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play takes place at KAWL, a struggling 1940s radio station that good-hearted owner Michael Anderson is barely keeping alive. He calls on some old friends (with big personalities) and some less-than-professional station employees to offer up a live radio version of Frank Capra’s touching masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life in what might sadly be the station’s last live show. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…
TROUBADOUR THEATER COMPANY continues its 25th SILVER ANNIVERSARY SEASON with “A CHRISTMAS CAROLE KING.” Musical Direction by Derrick Finely, Directed and Adapted by Matt Walker, in a limited Engagement opening Friday, December 13, 2019, at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood!
For their 18th annual holiday offering, The Troubies have combined the soulful sounds of songstress Carole King with one of the most enduring stories of our time – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – and the result is SO FAR AWAY from what you’d expect!
Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, at A Noise Within, Directed by Geoff Elliott & Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
ANW’s delightfully festive, musically merry holiday tradition returns! Families love the inspirational story of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge—the perfect burst of boundless good cheer for the season, and beyond!
“Only a die-hard humbug could remain unmoved by so charming a yuletide treat.” – Los Angeles Times
A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory. This is the 40th year for the beloved Orange County holiday classic—and marks the final time that Hal Landon Jr. will portray everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Nineteenth-century London comes to life when your family joins the SCR family for the holidays. Recapture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with this timeless Dickens classic and all your favorite characters—Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come. No children under the age of 6, please.
Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season! An outrageous holiday romp for the whole family (except those who still believe in Santa!) Written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez. Music by Will Knapp. Directed by Gary Lamb. Musical director: Sean Paxton.
Yippie ki yay, theatre goers! We’re settling the debate, once and for all. Yes, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. But when John McClane meets Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” let’s just say more than just your eye might get shot out! What better way to end the year than by mashing up classic Christmas movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” with characters from some of your favorite “Not A Christmas Movie” movies like “Batman Returns?” Mix in a few iconic movie props, a team of talented writers, directors and actors and let the holiday drama and hi-jinks ensue! The way only our RUSH play festival can! Great for the whole family!
Written by Tyler Bianchi, Evan Baughfman, Jeff Folschinsky, Holly Sidell, Samantha Grace, Adam Neubauer, Samantha & Lilia Marquis, Directed by Jonathan Fahn, Jennifer Novak Chun, Holly Witham, Corey Chappell,
Randy Marquis, Tom Jones & Stacy Ann Raposa. At the Actors Workout Studio.
Developed in the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, Eight Nights is the heartfelt, lyrical portrait of a German Jewish refugee haunted by her past…witnessed over the course of generations of the same family that inhabits a single apartment from 1949 to 2016. Set during the eight nights of Chanukah, and spanning eight decades of the protagonist’s life, Eight Nights weaves together heart-aching moments with life-affirming humor to call out the trauma experienced not only by concentration camp survivors, but by African American descendants of slavery, by interned Japanese Americans, and by current victims of war in Africa and the Middle East.
Dysfunctional Family Christmas – Misunderstandings, Mistaken Identities, and Holiday Chaos create a fun-filled Christmas Morning at the Logan Home.
Before they sell the family home, Dean and Joanne Logan want one perfect final Christmas with their adult children. Although, once Grandpa is found dead, their plans go haywire as they attempt to hide the body from the family.
“A sardonic, merrily subversive tale—just the antidote to bright-eyed joy before too many shopping days have passed. Worth more than a photo album full of Santas!” NY Newsday. When it was first broadcast on National Public Radio, The SantaLand Diaries generated more requests for tapes than any story in This American Life’s history except the death of Red Barber. Timothy Olyphant brought the story to life on stage off-Broadway, and for the fourth year in a row Patrick Censoplano dons the candy-cane tights for a Santa Monica Playhouse holiday celebration in this outrageously funny one-man play from NPR’s well-loved humorist David Sedaris about the author’s experiences as an unemployed writer taking a job as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York City, taking a wry look at how the holiday season brings out the best – and the worst – in us all. Toast the Holidays! Your ticket includes a pre-show glass of champagne or non-alcoholic eggnog.
The story of Sugar Plum Fairy, based on Loh’s original tale on This American Life, follows a 12-year-old Sandra and her over-the-top dream of landing the lead in the inevitable dance school production of The Nutcracker. Loh and friends are pitted against the vicious hierarchy of desirable roles in this well-weathered ballet, while she desperately yearns to be recognized as a pre-teen queen in her own right. The play features Shannon Holt and Tony Abatemarco in a rotation of quirky characters from her misfit friends to a rigid Russian ballet instructor, as well as being co-conspirators in spreading some literal holiday cheer around the theater. Wittily set to a classical music score (a la Disney’s Fantasia’s hippopotamus ballerinas), Sugar Plum Fairy is knitted together with moments of audience participation, and attendees are encouraged to dress in their most festive outfits, prepare for sugary showers of candy, and get photos for the ‘gram with Yuletide-themed set designs that include reindeer, an animatronic Santa, and even, if you’re lucky, Frosty the Snowman.
Sixteen actors play nearly 30 characters in a holiday spectacular that will put you in a festive mood! A play-within-a-play, this fast-paced comedy follows a small, LGBTQ+ community theatre as it struggles to pull together its annual holiday pageant.
Written by Joe Marshall, directed by Bree Pavey. The cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Cassandra Carmona, Matt Caudel, Noah Copfer, Andrew Cottrell, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Dan Ellis, Javier Flores, Barbera Ann Howard, Sean James, Corey Klemow, Katy Laughlin, Ignacio Navarro, Alejandro Baquero Sanchez, Scottie Smith, Luke Sookdeo, and Bart Tangredi.
Rubicon Theatre audiences are invited to “rejoice and be plaid” this holiday season as Ventura’s non-profit professional theatre company presents the hilarious and heartwarming musical comedy PLAID TIDINGS in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. The production is directed by the original creator STUART ROSS, and the cast for PLAID TIDINGS includes SEAN BELL, ADOLPHO BLAIRE, JOSHUA DAVID CAVANAUGH and ZACHARY EDWARDS, all making their Rubicon Theatre debuts. The show includes holiday favorites such as “Cool Yule,” “Let it Snow,” and “Joy to the World”; a hysterically funny speed-date version of “The Ed Sullivan Show” featuring the Rockettes, the Chipmunks and The Vienna Boys Choir; and other memorable hits from the era, like “Sh-Boom,” “Fever” and “Hey There.”
The Los Angeles Times called PLAID TIDINGS “a many splendored thing.” Variety described the show as Musical utopia…the perfect show. And the Daily News called the show “heaven-sent holiday fare.”
“SANTASIA – A Holiday Comedy” created by Shaun and Brandon Loeser, directed by Shaun Loeser, is celebrating its 20th year. At the Whitefire Theatre, this Off-Broadway Hit and Critics’s Pick laugh out loud annual holiday romp, is the perfect blend of Yuletide snark and sentiment, and has been compared to “The Carol Burnett Show”, “The Kids in the Hall”, “In Living Color”, “Saturday Night Live” and Vaudeville. This multi-media holiday special has it all including classic Rankin and Bass Claymation inspired movies, musical parodies, and heartfelt holiday moments.
The Wallis & For The Record’s biggest, record-breaking hit returns this holiday season! The multimedia concert celebration of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time is back by popular demand, now as a not-to-be-missed Los Angeles tradition. The team behind LA’s award-winning series For The Record transforms The Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater into an immersive cinema, where the modern classic written by Richard Curtis is reborn as a revolutionary stage and screen event. To tell the story, the film and live action seamlessly intertwine throughout the London setting. Iconic scenes on screen share the stage with an all-star cast of singers and a 15-piece orchestra, as they reimagine the film’s hit soundtrack including “Christmas is All Around” and “Trouble With Love.” Love Actually Live is a first-of-its-kind, theatrical cinema experience.
WARNING: This production features theatrical haze effects, adult content, and brief nudity. It is recommended for ages 13+.
The San Fernando Valley Master Chorale is excited to bring back one of the most anticipated concerts of the season, our annual holiday sing-along concert! Joining us on stage this year will be the delightful San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus, under the direction of Sean Carney.
Led by Artistic Director Charlie Kim and accompanied by Bob Remstein, expect to hear your favorite holiday classics along with John Rutter’s “Gloria” accompanied by a brass quartet. And lots of audience participation! Join us for a night filled with fun, music, and holiday cheer for the whole family. All ages are welcome.
Ugly Sweater Contest: Oh, and don’t forget to bring your ugly sweater! This year SFVMC will give away free tickets for a future concert to the audience member who brings the ugliest holiday sweater.
The Merry Little Christmas Show – BroadwayWorld Critics’ Pick and StageSceneLA Award-winner Scott Dreier, star of last season’s acclaimed hit “Doris and Me,” returns to The Colony Theatre with his holiday concert. Featuring special guest Kurtis Simmons and music director Andy Langham. Dreier will take audiences back to the feel of cherished, classic, holiday TV specials hosted by Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and others — paying homage while also providing his modern take with pop and jazz interpretations of holiday treasures. The performance will include holiday classics including “Sleigh Ride,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “I’ve Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm,” “Merry Christmas Darling,” and many more. This show will transport you back to your living room sitting around the fireplace telling stories and sharing songs of the season.
How did a nice Evangelical Christian girl from Arizona wind up doing a one-woman comical cabaret show at Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT) in Santa Monica? Audiences will laugh and maybe even sing along, as they learn the secrets of Anna Abbott’s dual life in her new solo show, “A Very Goyisha Hanukkah,” playing two performances only at The Braid, JWT’s art and performance space.
The Group Rep presents A Twisted Christmas Carol, a world premiere comedy written by Phil Olson, directed by Doug Engalla, produced by Alyson York, a Texas-style spoof of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Talk-backs are after Sunday shows 12/21 and 01/04. Upstairs at the Group Rep on the second floor of the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601. The Upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode, Directed by Jerry Pilato & Erica Livingstone
Santa’s Reindeer Tells All! With each deer’s confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer and seems to implicate everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself. Don’t miss this expose of North Pole Naughtiness.
Starring David Janisch as Dasher, Eric Trigg as Comet, Christine McCoy as Dancer, Andrew Walters as Hollywood (Prancer), Mclain Parker as Cupid, Melanie Mino as Blitzen, Michael Adler as Donner and Kellen Gold as Vixen.
Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan returns to Catalina Jazz Club with his hilarious holiday show “Deck Them Halls, Y’All” for one performance only. Best known for his stand-out roles in “Sordid Lives,” “American Horror Story,” “The Help,” as the beloved Beverley Leslie on “Will & Grace” (for which he is currently shooting the final season), and most recently as Sid on the Fox series “The Cool Kids,” Leslie Jordan has charmed fans for over four decades.
His hilarious holiday tales are not to be missed. Jordan’s special guest will be country-pop singer Brandon Stansell.
Los Angeles Times calls Impro Theatre “Amazing!” One of the funniest evenings as the troupe spins an entire play into comedy gold right before your eyes. Starting with an audience suggestion, the troupe creates completely improvised, full-length plays in the styles of the world’s greatest writers. Join us this holiday season for a hilarious comedy inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. Comic portrayals, cruel melodrama and heartbreaking tenderness explode onto the teeming streets of Victorian London. A fun and festive evening of comedy.
Laguna Playhouse brings back its holiday tradition! A Special, Stripped Down to the Abs, Musical Event! “The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf” at Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach!
With Special Guest Appearances by Broadway’s Nick Adams, jackbenny and more! Ho, Ho, Ho, you don’t want to miss this show!
Broadway stars Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages, Sweeney Todd) and Nick Cearley (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All Shook Up) return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped-down, mashed-up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello and an array of zany instruments.
BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are back in an all-new two-queen holiday extravaganza at The Montalbán!
After last year’s wildly successful “To Jesus, Thanks for Everything,” Jinkx and DeLa return to the stage this holiday season in a high-spirited scramble to maintain your interest! DeLa is all sugar and Jinkx is all spice — but how do these two very different gals deal with the stress of the holidays? A little song, a lot of eggnog, and theatres full of people looking at them. Yup … all they want for Christmas is attention!
Returning to Hollywood by popular demand, platinum-selling recording artist and Tony Award-nominated actor Sam Harris brings his new holiday show to Catalina Jazz Club for one performance only. Led by his longtime musical director Todd Schroeder, Harris will perform Broadway, pop, and holiday fare.
The Theatre School @ North Coast Rep presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer, and by Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson.
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees among everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but this proves to be a frustrating endeavor. When an attempt to restore the proper holiday spirit with a forlorn little Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to discover the real meaning of Christmas.
The Nutcracker from critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet,celebrating 25 years. The Nutcracker comes to life with this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage. The Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, and a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination. Meet the cast after the performance for photos and autographs. This is family entertainment at its best.
Experience the joy of the season as Jenny Wong, GMCLA’s interim Artistic Director and Associate Conductor of the LA Master Chorale, leads GMCLA in choral classics, timeless Christmas carols, a medley of hits from the beloved film Love Actually, Broadway bonanzas, and Mariah Carey’s anthem – it’s all you’ll want for Christmas. A Los Angeles tradition for the entire family, this concert will be truly Spectacular!
Curated by Performances à la Carte, Jazz ‘n Paz continues with its’ seasonal intimate jazz series showcasing some of Los Angeles’ finest jazz musicians. To ring in the holidays, the December concert, Carols of the Belles, features the vocals of the iconic Barbara Morrison, Jamie Perez, and Renee Myara, at Pasadena’s Neighborhood UU Church. In a jazzy program of standards and holiday favorites, the musicians behind the angelic voices feature Michael Ragonese on piano, James Yoshizawa on drums, Danny Janklow on sax and flute, and Luca Alemmano on bass…A Holiday Champagne Party will follow the concert and may be added to any concert ticket purchase online for an additional $12. The party will feature appetizers, desserts, champagne and non-alcoholic punch along with music, dancing, comedic holiday improv antics and capped off with a Holiday Sing-A-Long.
L.A.’s largest holiday spectacular celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019 is at The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Join this year’s co-hosts, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and actress Marissa Ramirez (Blue Bloods), for this free, three-hour holiday show featuring 25 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures that make up L.A. Once again, PBS SoCal will host a live broadcast of the event that has been a Los Angeles holiday tradition since 1959, while KCET will air the program twice on Christmas Day.
Legendary Cuban jazz trumpet player Arturo Sandoval, accompanied by his world-renowned band, will kick off this year’s celebration with a medley of holiday songs. Returning favorites include Hālau Keali’i o Nālani & the Daniel Ho Trio, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, gospel choir Greater LA Cathedral Choir, Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy and folklorico troupe Pacifico Dance Company. Some of this year’s newcomers include Latin folk band Cuñao, the dancers and drummers of African Soul International and a cappella group Street Corner Renaissance.
All-female, two-time GRAMMY award-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will team up with their “brother” band Mariachi Espectacular, and Jewish cultural revival band Mostly Kosher will share the stage with Urban Voices Project, a choir made up of men and women surviving homelessness on Skid Row. Those who can’t make it to The Music Center on Dec. 24 can watch the live broadcast on PBS SoCal starting at 3 p.m., with the rebroadcast on KCET on Christmas Day from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., or online at pbssocal.org/holidaycelebration.
Center Theatre Group Leads With 20 nominations for their productions of Lackawanna Blues (5), and Linda Vista (4) at the Mark Taper Forum; Ain’t Too Proud (1) at the Ahmanson Theatre; and Dana H. (7), and Quack (2) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, along with Best Season. Fountain Theatre follows with 19 nominations for their productions of “Cost of Living” (9), “Daniel’s Husband” (6), “Hype Man: A Break Beat Play” (3), and Best Season., Geffen Playhouse Garners 18 nominations for their productions of “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” (8), “Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole” (8), “Mysterious Circumstances” (2), and “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” (1)., La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts garnered 14 nominations for their productions of “Singin’ in the Rain” (11), “Beauty and the Beast” (2), and “A Night with Janis Joplin” (1), and tied with the Pasadena Playhouse who received 14 nominations for their productions of “Singin’ in the Rain” (11), “Beauty and the Beast” (2), and “A Night with Janis Joplin” (1). And Sophina Brown gets 10 nominations for her production of “August Wilson’s Two Trains Running.”
Ovation Honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement in areas that are not among the standard list of nomination categories, have been awarded to Romero Moseley (Music Composition for a Play, Hype Man: A Break Beat Play at Fountain Theatre, and Dillon Nelson & Erin Walley (Puppet Design, Argonautika, A Noise Within.)
During the 2018–2019 voting season, 278 productions were registered for awards consideration by 124 producing organizations, and 3,838 individual artists were evaluated. This year’s 272 voters cast a total of 6,462 ballots.
The 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards Nominations
Rachel Myers accepts her Ovation Award for Scenic Design (Large Theatre) for “Skeleton Crew” (Geffen Playhouse) at 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.
Sponsors of this year’s Ovation Awards are DOMA Development Corporation; DOMA Theatre Company; Requiem Media Productions, LLC; SE7EN Waves Entertainment, LLC; Venture Hills Entertainment, LLC; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; F&D Scene Changes LTD; Ken Werther Publicity; Bakers Man Productions; Rosebrand; Zodiac Entertainment, LLC; Perpetua Holdings, LLC; Behind the Mask, Inc.; and Millennia Development, Inc.
LA STAGE Alliance is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in greater Los Angeles. The LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, founded in 1989, are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles. Voters are LA theatre professionals who are chosen through a vigorous application process each year by the Ovation Rules Committee. More information can be found at www.ovationawards.com.
Theatrical shows and Staged Readings NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.
Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview
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“Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview” (the raw truth of a hollywood legend), is a solo show written and performed by Kelly Mullis based on Marilyn Monroe’s final interview with Richard Merryman for Life Magazine in 1962, which explores the life, loves, https://t.co/n2x60zzKbopic.twitter.com/SF1OTO3VdU
American Radio Network names it “Critics’ Pick of the Year!” It’s the feel-good musical comedy hit of the decade, the bawdy, bold, bodacious Rudie-DeCarlo tribute to the wenches and rogues of the Bard – a “captivating” (stagehappenings. https://t.co/NyKhO4NEL5pic.twitter.com/frrQntZNHo
Christian Lebano has written his own stage adaptation of Little Women specifically for this production. It combines a cast of established professionals in the adult roles, with emerging young performing artists from California School of the Arts – San https://t.co/ryAdrDCKK1pic.twitter.com/cm8yKkOVbQ
September 18: “Tyrus” (Color. 2013, USA, 73 minutes, not rated) Writer/Director Pamela Tom presents the surprising life and career of pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong (1910-2016), who overcomes a life of poverty, racism, and discrimination https://t.co/W9wMNjkNN9pic.twitter.com/pkjv5YjI2a
Neo Ensemble Theatre presents the world premiere of "Representative Misbehavior" by Tom Walla, directed by Flint Esquerra. In this new political farce, State Representative Steven Chase is stunned when he learns that he is suddenly his party’s nominee https://t.co/t5JyHImEPmpic.twitter.com/qgbuC5JQak
Play your cards right and go all in for a once in a lifetime experience. Reserve a table, reserve a seat, but definitely mark your calendars for an incredible Texas Hold’em Charity Poker Tournament on Saturday, September 21st in the lobby of the historic https://t.co/kDtxCisrZmpic.twitter.com/RTSz1QX6jK
Theatre Unleashed presents Never Ever Land, the world premiere play by former child star and accomplished writer and director Rider Strong. Young Tim Gable’s family accused the world’s most famous singer of sex crimes in 1993. https://t.co/nfBr6BxbpIpic.twitter.com/qW5tJKqwet
When the pastor of a mega church unilaterally decides to enlighten his congregation with his own personal revelation, he is faced with doubt and dissension among his flock. Hnath’s Obie Award-winning play examines the schism in today’s church and the role of faith in America.*
Enjoy this interview with Townsend Coleman – the voice for The Tick in the 1994 cartoon series and the cast of “The Christians” at The Actors Co-op, running until Jun 16th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
Helen Edmudson’s Anna Karenina is an upside-down telling of Leo Tolstoy’s classic tale. A story wrapped in temptation, passion, and moral conflict, this eight-person dramatic event is a fast-paced examination of love, adultery, and marriage.*
Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Anna Karenina” at the Actors Co-op, extended through Mar 23rd. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.
*taken from the website
The 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards were presented on Monday, January 28, 2019, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles where 36 awards were bestowed on theater productions, producers, directors, artists, and technicians.
Members of The Kilroys, hosts of the 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.
The Ovation Honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement in areas that are not among the standard list of nomination categories, were awarded to Adrien Prevost (Music Composition for a Play, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, Rogue Artists Ensemble co-produced with East West Players) and Brian White, Sean Cawelti, Greg Ballora, Morgan Reban, Jack Pullman, and Christine Papalexis (Puppet Design, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, Rogue Artists Ensemble co-produced with East West Players).
The Center Theatre Group presented the 2018 Richard E. Sherwood Award to writer, comedian, and performance artist Kristina Wong, which also includes $10,000 endowed by the Sherwood family for innovative and adventurous artists.
Wong, who took the unique opportunity of this night to announce her candidacy for Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council Subdistrict 5 Resident Representative, said in acceptance, “In this line of work there’s a very fine line between being a madwoman and a visionary. It is so validating to be recognized as the latter by this vibrant LA Theatre community that has made me the performance artist slash political candidate that I am today.”
The Kilroys came with their message to the theater community at large to encourage the hiring and support of more women, trans, and non-binary artists in theater in order to achieve gender balance. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Paula Vogel, offered words of encouragement to the theater community as well, aligning with The Kilroys message of the evening with “The sooner produced, the sooner prolific.”
The awards show was broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook, in case you missed the show or would like to relive it.
Featured top photo: Rachel Myers accepts her Ovation Award for Scenic Design (Large Theatre) for “Skeleton Crew” (Geffen Playhouse) at 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.