ARTS IN LOS ANGELES
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November 2017

Celebrating the Arts since May 2012

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THEATRE!

Chasing Mem’ries!

Chasing Mem’ries: A Different Kind of Musical plays November 7th-December 10th at Geffen Playhouse

Chasing Mem’ries!

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

Chasing Mem’ries premiering at the Geffen Playhouse this month has all the elements of a surefire hit: The ‘play with music’ was written (and directed) by Josh Ravetch co-creator of one of my favorite nights in the theater, Carrie Fishers’ Wishful Drinking; the songs – both classic and new – come from the beloved songbook of three time Academy Award winning lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman; and the cast stars Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey, Gypsy) and Robert Forster (the versatile stage veteran who made his Broadway debut in 1965; featured in 100+ films, yet this is his first musical).

The story centers on Victoria, a woman not quite ready to let go of the life she’s loved… and the love of her life.  It is a beautiful ode to love, loss, pain, joy, nostalgia and our resistance to the passage of time.  But the real stars of the show are the songs that fits seamlessly into the dialogue and circumstances.

Because the songs are central to the show’s theme and tempo, I am glad they chose to cast actors who could sing rather than singers who act.

“This is a touching, luscious, triumphant piece of theater.” – Norman Lear

For more details, click here.

Something Rotten!

Something Rotten plays November 21st-December 31st at Ahmanson Theatre

Something Rotten!

  • By Ken Werther
  • Photo Courtesy of Center Theatre Group

Original, fresh, irreverent, and hysterical… just a few of the words that have been used to describe the 2015 world premiere musical Something Rotten! Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, the show ran on Broadway for 708 rollicking performances. This musical comedy about the musical comedy that started it all takes place in the 1590s, long before reminders to silence your cell phone! The setup is simple — brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom want to write a hit play but they’re stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing, and acting all at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical!

This wild and crazy affair is directed and choreographed by the wonderful Casey Nicholaw. I first met Casey in 2005 when I was working in the Center Theatre Group press office and CTG produced the world premiere of The Drowsy Chaperone (prior to Broadway). That show was, to quote accolades you’ve already seen above — original, fresh, irreverent, and hysterical! Casey’s work is amazing. Also, attention Rent fans … this production of Something Rotten! will arrive in Los Angeles featuring original Rent star Adam Pascal as William Shakespeare! This irresistible, dazzling ode to musicals must not be missed!

For more details, click here.

Robin Hood!

The Heart of Robin Hood plays The Wallis November 28th-December 17th

Robin Hood!

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo Courtesy of The Wallis

Ask me how many times I’ve seen Errol Flynn’s classic movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood.  Answer: too many times but it’s one of my all-time favorite films so of course I was more than intrigued to see The Heart of Robin Hood, a new production by the celebrated Vesturport Icelandic Theatre Group, debuting at The Wallace Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ Bram Goldsmith Theater later this month.  Clearly writer David Fair (“The Night Manager”) has taken a very different, very reimagined view on this legendary character and I for one couldn’t be happier.  In this new adaptation, Robin and his decidedly unmerry band of men steal from the rich, but keep everything – none of this give to the poor for these cutthroats!  However, when wicked Prince John threatens all, it’s the fair Maid Marion who comes to the rescue and must transform the infamous outlaw Robin ‘from hood to good’ with some unexpected twists and turns.

The Boston Globe summed the evening up best, “It’s a romance, a comedy and a drama. It has swashbuckling, cross-dressing and acrobatics. By the time of its final glorious romantic tableau, it will be a rare theatergoer who’s not won over.”  The show’s explosive and inventive staging and production (that literally comes at you from all sides), conceived and brought to life by acclaimed directors Gisli Örn Gardarsson and Selma Bjőrnsdóttir,  left the audience cheering and makes for a fun night in the theater.  Bring the family as I recommend the production for children ages 10 and up.

For more details, click here.

Spamilton!

Spamilton An American Parody plays the Kirk Douglas Theatre November 5th-December 31st

Spamilton!

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo Courtesy of Center Theatre Group

It was inevitable that someone would do a satire based on the hit show Hamilton and I am thrilled that Spamilton: An American Parody by Gerard Alessandrini, the creator the award-winning Forbidden Broadway shows, has hit the bullseye with this hilarious night in the theater! His characters, songs, costumes, and staging are spot on with their parody of the Broadway juggernaut. Per Alessandrini, the original show just offered so much rich source materials that a parody was inevitable.

There’s lots of insider jokes; twists on Sondheim and other Broadway classics; strange mash ups of characters, commentary on modern day Hollywood and DC, and jabs at the rap-style of the play. Think Ben Franklin/Sondheim debating, “Rap? Hat? These are the rhymes that try men’s souls.”  There’s also shoutouts and jokes about other Broadway shows (from Gypsy and Chicago to The King and I and Camelot) but the cameo of The Book of Mormon stars maligning the success of Hamilton was brilliant. But my favorite has to be the parody on the song “The Room Where it Happens,” as the Spamilton cast sings “I Wanna Be in the Film When It Happens” poking fun at Hollywood with a bunch of worst case scenario casting choices.

“Spamilton” debuts November 5th and runs through December 31st at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. For more details, click here.

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