Having grown up in a deaf family in Riverside, California, it was no surprise that David J. Kurs became interested in theater performed in American Sign Language (ASL) early on. His passion for the power of the arts was realized when in 2009 he joined the Deaf West Theatre (DWT), founded in 1991 by Ed Waterstreet. Upon Waterstreet’s retirement in 2012, he became the second artistic director in the history of the company. Prior to becoming artistic director, Kurs wrote and produced Aesop Who?, a multimedia show for young audiences, and served as associate producer and ASL master for Deaf West’s productions of Children of a Lesser God (2009), My Sister in this House (2010), and The Adventures of Pinocchio (2011). To quote Kurs: “Deaf West has had a great impact on me in my artistic development, and I can only hope to spread this passion on to others and to create opportunities for them so that we all can achieve a shared goal of artistic growth.” In 2020, he was named “Deaf Person of the Month” by DeafPeople.com. David took time from his busy schedule to interview in May 2020.
Daniel Durant and Natasha Ofili in "Orphee" - Photo by Brandon Simmoneau
When and how did Deaf West Theatre first form? Were you there from the beginning? What are some of the most popular shows you presented? Have you received any rewards?
David J. Kurs: Deaf West Theatre (DWT) was founded in Los Angeles in 1991 by deaf actors. Our theater engages artists and audiences in unparalleled theater experiences inspired by deaf culture and the expressive power of sign language. We weave American Sign Language (ASL) with spoken English to create a seamless ballet of movement and voice. Committed to innovation, collaboration, and training, DWT is the artistic bridge between the deaf and hearing worlds.
Recent and past productions include Jean Cocteau’s Orphée, The Solid Life of Sugar Water by Jack Thorne, and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, a co-production with the Pasadena Playhouse. In co-productions with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, we also presented Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo. The Deaf West production of Spring Awakening transferred from a small 99-seat theater to the Wallis and then to Broadway, where we received three Tony Award nominations in 2016. American Buffalo was named the Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice.” In a co-production with the Fountain Theatre, we also presented Cyrano, which won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for outstanding production. Big River won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Backstage Garland Awards for best musical in its Los Angeles premiere, as well as a Tony nomination and four Drama Desk Awards on Broadway. In a co-production with Center Theatre Group, DWT produced Pippin, which was presented at the Mark Taper Forum, and Sleeping Beauty Wakes, produced at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Oliver! won the Ovation Award for best musical, and A Streetcar Named Desire won the Ovation Award for best play. In 2005, the Secretary of Health and Human Services selected DWT to receive the highest recognition award for its “distinguished contributions to improve and enrich the culture lives of deaf and hard of hearing actors and theater patrons.”
I have attended DWT shows since the company’s inception when I was in high school. I began working with the theater in 2009 and succeeded our founding artistic director Ed Waterstreet as artistic director in 2012.
Daniel Durant, Eddie Buck, Troy Kotsur, Ipek D. Mehlum, and Maleni Chaitoo in "Cyrano" - Photo by Ed Krieger
When did you close the theater for COVID-19? Were you in the middle of a run?
DJK: We opened and closed our new production, Jean Cocteau’s Orphée, on the same night. It was heartbreaking; but, in retrospect, I am thankful that everyone is safe. My heart goes out to the actors, designers, and creatives who labored so mightily and valiantly to bring together an exemplary show that was seen by so few. The memory of coming together with the company in the empty theater after the curtain will remain in my heart for a long time.
How has the COVID-19 shutdown impacted your theater?
DJK: We had to cancel our run of our play on the first night, as well as a planned tour to Tokyo. We also cancelled a planned fall show. Other than readings and workshops, we don’t have anything on the calendar for another year. But I’m still hoping that we’ll get back onstage before then.
Sandra Mae Frank, Treshelle Edmond, Natacha Roi, Katie Boeck, Lauren Patten, Amelia Hensley, Alexandra Winter, and Ali Stroker in "Spring Awakening" - Photo by Tate Tullier
Are you doing anything right now to keep your live theater going? Are you streaming? Do you have virtual meetings? Are you planning for your next show when the theater can reopen?
DJK: We are staying in touch every day, mainly on Zoom. We collaborated with NBC on an episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist that premiered a few weeks ago, and it was extremely gratifying to see the love and praise from the community. We also collaborated with Kelly Clarkson and helped create a community-sourced video for her latest song, “I Dare You.” It’s a blessing to be able to generate work for all of the actors from our community during these times, and we’re not going to stop. We’re also working on several digital projects, including a full production to be streamed.
Nick Apostolina, Natalie Camunas, Sandra Mae Frank, and Tad Cooley in "The Solid Life of Sugar Water" - Photo by Brandon Simmoneau
What do you think the impact of COVID-19 will be on live theater in general in Los Angeles? Do you foresee any permanent changes?
DJK: It is my observation that theatergoers in Los Angeles are creatures of habit. Once we emerge from the end of the tunnel, I think that things will return to normal quicker than we expect. I also think a lot about what prospective patrons will need to feel safe in a theater again.
Troy Kotsur, Matthew Ryan Pest, and Paul Raci in "American Buffalo" - Photo by Noel Bass
What do you need right now to keep going forward? What would you like from the theater public?
DJK: I, for one, count my blessings every day. We have a wonderful community of actors and patrons that keeps us going. Our Board has been extremely supportive, and we’ve received some wonderful donations. Theater is an art form that’s been around for ages. While we will continue to fill our need for communal experiences, our industry will continue to evolve. I think our industry will make advances in virtual space. I’m thinking about this time in our industry and how we can step up to the challenges posed by quarantine. But in my mind only one thing is certain: that we must move forward together with grace, strength, and compassion.
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.
I give to you my personal list of the best theatre Los Angeles offered in 2019, with a few swipes at the less of the best….
First off, the production of August Wilson’s Jitneyat the Mark Taper Forum.Wilson’s works share a distinction with those of Shakespeare, in that when the plays of either are fortunate enough to be housed in a production of true artistry one finds theatre nirvana, which is what director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and cast provided L.A. audiences with.
The cast —Steven Antony Jones, Francois Battiste, Amari Cheatom, Nija Okoro, Ray Anthony Thomas, Harvy Blanks, Keith Randolph Smith, Brian D. Coats, and Anthony Chisholm returning to the role which earned him a Drama Desk Award and Obie in 2000’s off-Broadway production— performed as keys on a perfectly tuned piano, with Santiago-Hudson assuring not one false note was sounded.
Contributing to this perfect harmony were David Gallo’s set, Jane Cox’s deft light design and Toni-Leslie James’ superlatively unobtrusive costumes.
In six short years the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has won L.A.’s appreciation for the work produced and Artistic Director Paul Crewes its respect for his guidance.
This year that appreciation and respect were given further validation: The Old Man and the Old Moon by the PigPen Theatre Company, was an intoxicating entwining of old world folklore, Arabian night tales and the poetic arts of a Celtic seanchaís resulting in an evening of wondrous magic which is the essence of theatre.
Some twenty-five years ago at the old Tiffany Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, the marvelous Hershey Felder presented his first solo show based on the life of a great composer. Having previously brought Chopin and Beethoven to the Wallis, this year Felder returned again— and again was…well, marvelous.
Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story, are the reminiscences of his first youthful journey to Paris which are placed as a palimpsest in homage to his favorite composer Achille-Claude Debussy. Directed by Trevor Hay it was perhaps the most enchanting show of the season.
We have the Wallis to thank for Renée Taylor’s one-woman show, My Life on a Diet. Best known to movie lovers as Eva Braun in Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1968) and to TV viewers as Fran Drescher’s mother on the CBS sitcom The Nanny,Taylor, with her late husband Joseph Bologna, co-wrote the Oscar nominated Lovers and Other Strangers as well as two additional screenplays and 21 more plays.
It was a privilege and a joy to be in the company of the 86 year old Taylor who is a juggernaut of talent as well as a living history of both Broadway and Hollywood, and, personally, I wanted her show to go on longer than its 90 minutes.
Like a week longer. Maybe two.
The Wallis also deserves thanks for bringing back talented David Mynne, whose one-man presentation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations was one of last year’s high-water mark.
A Christmas Carol, this year’s Dickens offering, was less satisfying but Mynne’s performance was nevertheless amazing to watch.
The Fountain Theatre, which I regard as one of the jewels in the crown of the L.A. theatre community offered little this year that drew my interest and what did, I’m afraid, I was less than thrilled by.
Idris Goodwin’s play Hype Man, though not without merit, I found weak and I thought the cast, Clarissa Thibeaux, Chad Addison and Matthew Hancock and director Deena Selenow, brought more to the play than the play brought to the stage.
Of course, there was no performance of the Forever Flamencoseries that I was not enraptured by. These monthly Juergas of dancers and singers, overseen by Deborah Culver at the Fountain since 1990, I have often heralded as one of the best kept secrets in L.A. and one of its hottest tickets.
The Long Beach International City Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’sThe Price was a show one should regret if missed.
David Nevell as a man who sees in the wreckage of his father’s life the failure of his own, and Elyse Mirto as the wife who sees her husband’s true worth but is unable to make him believe it, were each outstanding.
In the most Biblical referenced of Miller’s plays, Bo Foxworth’s layered performance as the prodigal son allowed the audience to see that the chains forged by his choices were as heavy as those of his brother.
As the secondhand furniture dealer Mister Solomon, which is the heartbeat of the play, Tony Abatemarco fluctuated adroitly between the Old Testament’s wise Solomon and Faust’s wheeling-dealing Mephistopheles.
I find director John Henry Davis to be rather hit or miss, but with The Price he undeniably knocked one out of the stadium.
DoubleDoubleplaywright Guy Zimmerman and director Juli Crockett, by a fusion of the 1944 noir classic Double Indemnity with Shakespeare’s Scottish play, successfully brought another artistic chimera to the stage.
Zimmerman and Crockett juggled snippets of dialogue and hints of shared motifs, transforming a trio of Barbara Stanwyck doppelgangers (Henita Telo, Jenny Greer and Isabella Boose) into a Greek Chorus to warn Saughn Buchholz as Walter-Walter of the fate awaiting his Oedipus MacMurray.
From concept to execution, this production had the luster that craft and intelligence brings; sharing in the credit for this are scenic designer Melissa Ficociello and Michael Feldman’s ballads.
Bill Irwin’s On Beckettwas perhaps more lecture than show, but what a subject to lecture on and what a lecturer to hear. Having been a fan of Bill Irwin since his Old Hats and Fool Moon days, what I found so extraordinary in his discourse/performance/dissertation/sermon on the works of the great Irish playwright on the stage at Kirk Douglas Theatre, was Irwin’s ability to delve into those “linguistic non-spaces” Beckett supplies, and weave relevance into those silences found there.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson is the current “flavor of the month” from the New York theatre scene. I find most of her works “vanilla” at best. But there are a couple of her plays which, while not on the level of “Chocolate Therapy,” come close to “Chunky Monkey” status.
Ada and the Engineis one. It tells the story of the rakish Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada, and her contribution to the development of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, precursor to the modern computer. In their staging, Theatre Unleashed emphasized the play’s strengths while cloaking its weaknesses, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging production.
As the two dominant men in Ada’s life —William King-Noel, later Lord Lovelace and the driven Charles Babbage— Gregory Crafts and Alex Knox gave faultless performances. But it was Jessie Sherman in the titular role that captured the audience and herded them on the pathway from the joys of dreams to the price paid for them.
Director Heidi Powers enriched the production by her employment of Denise Barrett’s costumes and use of Kevin Hilton’s animation which shattered the black box’s confines by expanding the vista of ideas.
Less successful, but certainly more frenzied was the Theatre Unleashed production of Never Ever Land by playwright Rider Strong, centering on the allegations against Michael Jackson’s involvement with underaged boys. Director Michael A. Shepperd applied cunning and skill but was only moderately successful in masking the play’s faults. On the other hand, Josh Randall as the “abused” lad’s manipulating father and Leif Gantvoort as the unctuous news commentator after a story turned in exceptional performances.
Nathan Makaryk and Geneviève Flati co-directed their “re-envisioning” of Les Misérables, the much beloved musical based on Victor Hugo’s much renowned classic. The crushing poverty, sexual exploitation, brutal police and civil bloodshed are still there, they just added a ton of puppets and screwed with the songs.
Performer-puppeteers Kelly Rogers, Kevin Garcia, Gabrielle Jackson, Jaycob Hunter, Hailey Tweter and Carter Michael kept the laughter coming, as did Christopher Robert Smith as Javert.
The production was packed with silly puns and dopey jokes, but what came as a total surprise, at least to me, was the quality of the cast’s musical chops. Some credit for this must go to “musical accompaniment, Orchestrator and Arranger” David Norris. Here’s hoping Makaryk and Flati set their satirical sights on another classic of the musical theatre.
I did manage to see Rogue Machine’sDisposable Necessities in their new space in Santa Monica. Playwright Neil McGowan has conceived a clever work akin to an old “slam-door” comedy where an actor would rush out as one character to re-enter as another seconds later. But, McGowan does away with the “doors” by setting his work in a protean near future when bodies are changed with wardrobe like ease. The device supplies the show with laughs, but also with difficulties. Claire Blackwelder isn’t up to the demands of conveying the persona of an elderly chauvinistic lecher dwelling in young lady with a body worthy of Vargas’ watercolors. Nor does Jefferson Reid have the acting apparatus to conjure the reality of a spoiled white boy deposited into the body a black urban teen; the rest of the cast, Billy Flynn, Darrett Sanders and the always superb Ann Noble, having the benefit of experience turn in stellar performances.
We look forward to what Rogue Machine and Artistic Director John Perrin Flynn have in store for us in 2020.
The Judas Kiss by British playwright David Hare travels the oft-treaded ground of Oscar Wilde’s disgrace following the infamous trial for libel he foolishly instigated against the father of his young lover Boise.
Director Michael Michetti’s production at The Boston Court was lushly mounted with sets by designer Se Hyun Oh, Dianne K. Graebner’s costumes, and lighting design by David Hernandez, but all the lushness could not conceal the piece’s anemia of dramatic tension.
Some atonement was found in the performances of Darius De La Cruz as Robbie Rose, Wilde’s most stouthearted friend and that of Colin Bates as the self-centered Boise.
But it was the sincerity and depth of humanity which Rob Nagle brought to the role of Wilde that served as the most memorable feature of a rather forgettable show.
The Hollywood Fringe Festival held every June along the strip of Santa Monica Blvd running from Highland Avenue to Vine Street should be a seasonal Mecca for the creative souls of this city and those with any reverence towards the arts. HFF 2019 boasted a total of 405 individual productions and sold over 67,000 tickets.
Here were the standouts for me: Mil Grus, featured the absurdly inspired clowning of Helene Udy, Grayson Morris, Jeremy Sapp, Jenson Lavellee and Isaac Kessler under Dean Evans’ direction and took TVO’s “Best of the Fringe.” The show, along with its five misshapen blobs of bizarre silliness, just opened in New York.
Theatre Unleashed made their presence felt at the Fringe with Tattered Capes by Gregory Crafts, an intelligent and clever account of the marital woes that befall two caped crusaders. With outstanding performances from Chris Clabaugh, Travis Joe Dixon and Joanna Mercedes, Crafts’ play celebrated the superheroes of our childhood while reverberating with deeper questions regarding the secret identities we use in concealing our true selves from those we love.
Designer Denise Barrett provided the super costumes and Corey Lynn Howe’s direction was more powerful than a locomotive.
With Son of A Bitch, Director Billy Ray Brewton fashioned an American Morality play about, to quote my fellow critic David Narine, “Lee Atwater’s – Republican-Strategist-Liar-Driven-Liar-Brilliant-Liar- Son of a Bitch – rise to power.”
Featuring solid performances by Dennis Gersten as George H.W. Bush, Luke Forbes as “W” and David McElwee as Atwater, playwright, Lucy Gillespie’s work was a much-needed history lesson.
A local news broadcaster, Emily Dorsett, hosts a mayoral debate in the American heartland. The candidates include the gay uber-liberal lesbian (Kate Hellen) a Tea-Partier (Lucie Beeby) and the slimy incumbent (Jim Hanna who also penned the script).
The debate goes from glad-handing to backstabbing with gleeful alacrity and the laughs roar out. But beneath the chortles, Hanna and his cast slip a grim warning; that in this nation today, the “amber waves of grain” are closer to Rod Sterling’s “cornfield.”
Butcher Holler Here We Comewritten by Casey Wimpee was perhaps the Festival’s most successful immersive piece. The audience is confined in a room dark as pitch, sharing in the fate of five miners trapped beneath the earth. Under the astute direction of Leah Bonvissuto, the voices of the unseen miners, Michael Mason, Isaac Byrne, Adam Belvo, Morrison Keddie and Adam Willson, spin about the audience, webbing them in desperation.
Spencer Green’s twisted take on the anthropomorphic beast fables of Aesop,The Scorpion and the Frog, was riotously engaging. Showcasing the talents of Matthew Leavitt, Christine Sage and Alex Parker it was hands down one of the Fringe’s most thoroughly enjoyable offerings.
Public Domain the Musical, while not perfect, had highpoints that would make your nose bleed. Sam Pasternack (who wrote the book, composed the music, supplied the lyrics and directed) gathered some first-rate performers for this musical ragging of the Disney Corporation’s propensity to squeeze profits from any character in the public domain. Pasternack uses those public domain icons that Disney overlooked: Oedipus (Max Mahle), The Monkey Paw (Max Ash), Rosie the Riveter (Codi Coates) and…er, Potato Mussolini (Ben Cassil). Let it be known, costume designer Ember Everett, rose to the occasion. One of my favorite numbers was Oedipus’ song, “The Way to Become a Hero (is to be at the right place at the right time.) Were there flaws in the production? Of course, but it also had a Potato Mussolini!
Solo shows are the stock in trade for any Fringe and HFF 2019 had some extraordinary ones, with the TVO’s “Best Solo Show (Female) going toRaised By Wolves, a cautionary tale about life among alpha-males and evil step-mothers, written and performed by Marla Black.
TVO’s “Best Solo Show (Male) went to Monica Bauer’s Made For Each Other, an astonishingly tender tale staring John Fico as a man who learns that even those in their flabby fifties are deserving of love.
Cathy Schenkelberg arrived at the Fringe with a double whammy for Scientology; first there was Squeeze My Cans, her harrowing one-woman show about the 20 plus years she spent in the cult of L. Ron Hubbard.
Then there was that show’s musical clone Squeeze My Cabaret, in which Schenkelberg related the same tale but showed that she has a pair of pipes on her that could knock the smug superciliousness off Tom Cruise’s puss at twenty yards.
In HFF 2018Yokko brought her New York based company Ren Gyo Soh with a Japanese Butoh re-fitting of Euripides, Butoh Medea. This year Yokko turned her efforts on Shakespeare with Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth adapted by Sean Michael Welch and directed by Brian Rhinehart. Both shows were equally entrancing.
Two excellent productions which deserved greater exposure were Clark Wade-A Jazzy Tragedy, written and performed by Esquizito, AKA EP Perez which drew on memories of New Orleans’ Golden Age;
Stephen Lang’sBeyond Glory based on the recollections of Medal of Honor winners for which Steve Scott took TVO’s “Best Actor” award.
From Ireland came Drought, poetess-songsmith-performer Kate Radford’s haunting indictment of the toxicity of sexual abuse, which TVO acknowledged as the “Best International Show.”
Her true-life tale of a model being afflicted with alopecia was shared by Jannica Olin in (IM)Perfekt. Olin managed to inspire her audiences and at the same time convulse them with laughter.
With Black Boxing, playwright Matt Ritchey held a funhouse mirror to the very concept of solo shows. Directed by Matthew Martin this raucously funny gem chronicled every pitfall solo shows face. Fittingly, this send-up of a one-man show featured performances by Ritchey and Jim Niedzialkowski.
Finally, I’ll close with one of the most satisfying shows in HFF 2019,Temple Tantrum, written and performed by Nicole Steinwedell. Raised in a right-wing Christian cult, Steinwedell broke free and plunged into a world diametrically different – Hollywood. Steinwedell told her tale with the slashes of vibrancy one expects on a Jackson Pollack canvas.
Steinwedell’s dynamism, like the dissonance of a “perfect storm,” may have dissipated into an ineffable silence, but for director Kimleigh Smith who ably applied orchestration to the tempest, assuring awareness of the work’s import and clarity, for which she took TVO’s “Best Director” honors.
Of course the Fringe had disappointments: Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive the Apocalypse, Princess Magic’s Trash Time Revue, and Lincoln 2020. But these were in a minority.
And the larger L.A. theatre scene had its pratfalls too:
Between Riverside and Crazy, (It won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, just like Enter Madame and Men in White!), Scraps(whose playwright the program told us “never learned to properly write a play.” I buy that.) and The Play That Goes Wrong(which I’m sure would have been much funnier if I hadn’t seen it.)
But these were in a minority as well.
The demands of theatre are arduous, and despite good intentions, dedicated labor and inspired concept, we often fail or falter through our own faults or fate’s callous insensitivity. This is when we should recall the words of Robert Ingersoll:
“…when men and women belong to a profession
that can count Shakespeare in its number,
they should feel nothing but pride.” ¹
And so I say to all my good friends, to all the stagehands, house managers, dancers, marketing directors, composers, ushers, wardrobe supervisors, directors, set designers, choreographers, carpenters, light board operators, set dressers, producers, sound designers, singers, dramaturges, dialogue coaches, box office agents, fight choreographers, company managers, janitors, make-up artists, musicians, spotlight operators, set builders, technical directors, videographers, dressers, prop masters, parking attendants, playwrights, actors, stage managers, wig makers, publicists, scene painters, critics and most importantly to all who make up our theater, let us join together in 2020 and do what we do best – make magic!
From all of us at theTVolution.com we hope 2020 brings you good fortune, good health and of course, great theatre.
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.