Freaky Friday (La Jolla Playhouse)

unnamed (4)Freaky Friday is a real delight at the La Jolla Playhouse. The production is trying to go to Broadway and I definitely think it is worth seeing at this stage. It is not a perfect piece of theater, but it has a lot going for it. The biggest thing is the music. The team that won the Pulitzer for Next to Normal (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey) have created some really wonderful songs that will stay with you. One favorite is “Oh, Biology” which takes place in a biology class and has a great beat that really gets the cast and audience going.

I haven’t seen the movies in a while, but I’m positive the musical has taken liberties that I feel are welcome. I don’t want to list them all, but one great example is that the daughter is over-weight, which helps add another dramatic layer to the mother-daughter dynamic. There is a theme of body issues which I believe is great for all the young females who will inevitably be watching this show with their mothers.

The cast is very strong and often doubles up on parts. My favorite though is Heidi Blickenstaff,  who plays a wonderful mother and portrays an angst filled teen with comedic ease. She is a magnet to the eyes and every scene she inhabits is stolen by her talent.

If you have a chance to see Freaky Friday it is a fun night out for the family. When we went the cast received an immediate standing ovation, which is rare these days.

– Trevor

Advertisements

Abduction from the Seraglio (LA Opera)

AAbduction while ago we saw Magic Flute at the LA Opera and it was out of this world. When we saw that LA Opera was doing another Mozart that was set in the roaring twenties, we thought it would be just as fun as Magic Flute. We were wrong about Abduction from the Seraglio.

The show was definitely entertaining and hilarious, but was just not at the level Magic Flute was. This might be because the plot felt ridiculous (escaping from a train with a ladder made from sheets), the score was not as complex (Abduction is an earlier Mozart piece), or because the show was a little too long.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought there were some truly hilarious moments, and Soo Young Kim is becoming a star for Angelenos, like Ana Maria Martinez before her.

At the Ford Amphitheater, they did Seraglio but adapted it to have characters from Star Trek. That to me might have been more interesting, but would most likely not have read well with the LA Opera subscribers.

Abduction was a fun night out, but not up to par with most LA Opera shows we have seen.

– Trevor

 

The Lion (Geffen Playhouse)

IIMG_7540 LOVED The Lion! In its final stop on a lengthy world tour which included 2 off-Broadway runs (and a Drama Desk award for Outstanding Solo Performance), Benjamin Scheuer’s one-man autobiographical musical will have its final performance next month on The Geffen stage.  For any singer-songwriter fangirls (or boys), this is a must-see. It is a perfect storm of beautiful folksy-pop melodies, a love story, and a dashingly handsome performer with an incredible life story. It also doesn’t hurt that he is his own accompanist. Throughout the 80-minute piece, Benjamin picks up a variety of guitars and string instruments scattered around the minimalist stage, and he doesn’t just strum chords…he PLAYS THE SHIT out of those guitars.

Benjamin’s story is beautiful, heartbreaking, melodious, hopeful, and inspiring. All the good adjectives. I laughed, I smiled, I cried and I gave a standing ovation. Scheuer pours his heart out onstage, and anyone who is willing to share his life via such a public platform deserves all the admiration in the world.

The only thing I didn’t like…when he took off his shoes. Because, eww feet.

– Jerusha

P.S. We’re doing this really funny (read: annoying) thing where we’re taking pictures of the BACK of Performances magazine on each set (see photo)…because Jade Mills buys a full page ad in EVERY edition. LOL

It’s funny if you see a lot of theatre. Maybe.

Peter and the Starcatcher (YA4Ever)

Starcatcher - CopyToday we traveled up to Trevor’s old stomping grounds, Thousand Oaks, to see his best friend Michael, in Young Artists Ensemble’s alumni production of Peter and the Starcatcher.

This show holds a special place in my heart because it was the, get ready for it, FIRST SHOW #LATHTRCOUPLE EVER SAW TOGETHER. That’s right folks, way back in December 2013, CTG’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher was our first ever theatre date.

This was a great community theatre production of a piece that is usually played on a big stage. Seeing it in a black box thrust scenario was really cool. They managed to implement a lot of the same cool theatre magic tricks, and the performances were very professional. I like seeing shows at the Hillcrest Center for Arts, because you get a mixed audience – elderly folks, kids, and everything in-between. It makes for a much more interesting viewing experience. It’s also fun to see all the little kids storm “Mr. Mike” in the lobby after the show – he’s an elementary school drama teacher and his students LOVE him 🙂

– Jerusha

Frenchie Davis (Geffen Playhouse)

Frenchie - CopyAn Evening with Frenchie Davis was a lovely event that had the Geffen audience standing on its feet.

Frenchie is an accomplished singer and performer and showed everyone what it is to “Frenchify” a song. She took multiple upbeat songs and transformed them into to sultry R&B experiences like “Trap Queen” from Fetty Wop or “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga.

Only two things could have made this night more entertaining. 1. If Ms. Davis sang some more Broadway tunes or show-stoppers like “I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls. 2. If she threw in one or two upbeat songs to mix things up.

They say a great actor can make reading the phone book interesting; well Frenchie can sing about anything and make it brilliant. To illustrate, she sang the “ABC’s” in a delightful and entertaining way that I didn’t know was possible.

Keep your eyes and ears out for Frenchie Davis. She is a shining star that is impossible to miss.

– Trevor

 

2016 Roundup

Below I’ve compiled a list of every play, concert, live event we saw this year. Because it was a record year for entertainment (for us), and I’d rather remember 2016 for that than, well…anything else (election *cough* the demise of the USA *cough*).

This year we saw 34 stage productions together: 
Spelling Bee (YAE Forever)
1984 (Broad Stage)
An Act of God (Ahmanson)
Empire (La Mirada)
Barcelona (The Geffen)
Magic Flute (LA Opera)
Madame Butterfly (LA Opera)
Tick Tick Boom (After Hours Theatre)
Stage Kiss (Geffen)
Office Hour (SCR)
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Ahmanson)
Amadeus (SCR)
Hairy Ape (Odyssey)
La Boheme (LA Opera)
Fringe: Voices, Adam Bomb(s), Porn Rock, All the Best Killers are Librarians
Gruesome Playground Injuries (Hudson)
Bad Jews (Theatre of Note)
Grey Gardens (Ahmanson)
All The Way (SCR)
Barbecue (Geffen)
District Merchants (SCR)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Mark Taper)
A View from the Bridge (Ahmanson)
Macbeth (LA Opera)
Destiny of Desire (SCR)
Icebergs (Geffen)
Akhnaten (LA Opera)
Wonderful Town (LA Opera)
Beauty Queen of Leenane (Mark Taper)
Amelie (Ahmanson)
Home Alone (Rockwell)

Trevor saw a few shows on his own or with friends:
Disgraced (Mark Taper)
Little Mermaid (La Mirada)

I saw a few shows on my own or with friends:
Newsies (Segerstrom)
Figaro (Panic Productions)
Parade (Panic Productions)
Beautiful (Pantages)
A Chorus Line (Hollywood Bowl)
Westside Story (Hollywood Bowl)
Wizard of Oz (GTC)
Lend Me A Tenor (La Mirada)
Mutthouse the Musical staged reading (NoHo Arts Center)
I Love You Because (After Hours Theatre)
Funny Girl (Conundrum Theatre Company)
A co-worker’s daughter’s variety show
Fringe: Vintage Box, All Aboard the Marriage Hearse, Edges, Mmhmm: A Killer One Woman Show, Cold Tangerines, Power! Stokley Carmichael, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Sh!t, Bloody Beautiful, Qaddafi’s Cook – Living in Hell, Cooking for the Devil*, Take Another Look, #WhaleFail, Gilda: A Tribute to Beloved Comedienne Gilda Radner*, Aurora & Larry, Fairytales Against Humanity, Please Stand Clear The Doors Are Closing, Feast of Snacks, Strap-On, Seven Decembers, Suckin Injun
The Seven Guys You Date Before You Get Married (twice)
MI Comedy Theatre Lip Sync Battle
MI Teen Slasher Flick
No Limits Comedy Hour
Not to mention the countless MI and Max improv shows I attended

We also attended:
2 food festivals (LA Weekly’s Tacolandia and 626 Night Market)
2 Dodgers Games
1 Padres Game
1 Kings game (our first hockey game!)
1 Tony-viewing party
Grease live viewing party
Hairspray live viewing party
Hamilton documentary viewing party
1 Nerdology game show
Jeff Goldblum’s jazz show at the Rockwell (twice)
Leon Bridges concert
Max Amory concert
Steve Martin & Martin Short in concert
A pole dancing competition
Rhapsody en Dance concert
2 escape rooms
2 county fairs (LA & SD)
Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary special screening
Jazz shows: Baked Potato, Blue Whale, Lighthouse Cafe

Bye 2016! We won’t miss ya but thanks for the fun!

 

 

Home Alone (Rockwell Table & Stage)

Home Alone - CopyThe Rockwell is always a good time. Well, it is if you happen to score a seat in the overly crowded space that isn’t blocked by a column or the back of someone’s head, and you manage to dupe your server into not enforcing the 2 item minimum.

BUT, I do always enjoy watching my friend and ex-roommate Zach Zagoria KILL IT onstage. Zach has starred in a few Rockwell/UMPO shows, but in this one especially he gets to show off his guns 😉 He earned his keep, dashing around the stage and portraying multiple supporting characters.

Any lovers of the original movies will enjoy the not-so-hidden homages to those classic 90’s staples. I always appreciate the 90’s/early 2000’s soundtracks that are often the basis for UMPO’s shows, and I particularly liked that Kevin was played by an actress.

– Jerusha

Amelie (Ahmanson)

Amelie - CopyAmelie is going to Broadway, but if I was in New York I would probably skip it. I might be biased though because I am such a fan of the movie. The movie is French, and I feel like one of the main characters is France, with its beautiful scenery and unique individuals. The musical does not feel French at all. No one speaks with an accent and the show feels like it could be taking place anywhere.  The score in the movie is so iconic and you only hear bits of it in the musical. In fact, the music in the show sounded all the same to me except for one or two numbers – which is not a good sign for a new musical. Phillipa Soo is a Broadway star in the making, but even she could not save this production. I suggest seeing the movie instead. You will not regret it.

-Trevor

Beauty Queen of Leenane (Mark Taper)

Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen of Leenane is another hit for the Taper. McDonagh is such a master at dark comedy and it is played to perfection in the Druid’s production. Broad comedy is on display with Aaron Monaghan’s antsy brother and subtle comedy with Marie Mullen, Marty Rea and Aisling O’Sullivan’s nuanced line deliveries and guttural noises. Another quality of McDonagh’s work that is sometimes overlooked is his knack for dripping horror and suspense into his pieces. You know you’re seeing a great show when the audience gasps multiple times.

I thought the play was executed brilliantly minus one part where a certain character didn’t scream after getting tortured, but other than that – go see this tortured relationship between a mother and daughter. It will make you feel much better about your relationship with your parents, to say the least.

-Trevor

Wonderful Town (LA Opera)

374b4640-8a56-4e56-81a9-192f7fc49018 Jeans at the Opera! That’s what I saw Saturday night at a special-engagement semi-staged production of Wonderful Town at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The crowd was much more mixed and relaxed than what you typically see at the Opera – lots of “laymen”, you might say.

I LOVE Leonard Bernstein, and although not as popular as Westside Story and a much lighter piece, it definitely has that nostalgic Broadway feel, with catchy tunes and cheesy lines galore! What a treat it was to see Tony Award-winners Faith Prince and Nikki M. James star as two sisters trying to make it big in the Big Apple. Special shoutout to Roger Bart, a man of many hats (literally), in the role(s) of Narrator, Tour Guide, Speedy Valenti, Chick Clark, etc. Marc Kudisch’s Robert Baker had that dreamy George Clooney feel about him, and both Faith and Nikki were rockstars (although Faith was a bit old for the role, no?).

The special 3-night engagement is over by the time I’m writing this, so I’m not spoiling it for anyone by saying that my favorite parts were the appearance of the cast rising up out of the orchestra pit at the end of the overture, and the surprise dance bits with a troupe of male dancers (and Faith and Nikki too!). Wonderful Town was a real holiday treat!

-Jerusha