Showing posts with label Thousand Oaks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thousand Oaks. Show all posts

16 August 2018

Conejo Players 2019: SO Exciting!!!

I am so excited to share with y'all the 2019 season for Conejo Players Theatre in Thousand Oaks, California. It looks splendid!!
The season includes the following plays: To Kill a Mockingbird, Don't Dress for Dinner, Proof (that I had the pleasure of reviewing at the La Mirada Performing Arts during my college days), Much Ado About Murder and Miracle on 34th Street.
The musicals seem to be more adult friendly vs family friendly this year featuring: Sweeney Todd (rated R), Avenue Q (rated R), Sweet Charity (PG-13) and Pippin. Their family friend show of the year will be High School Musical.
And their 2019 JR production will be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. (the musical that Michael Ball starred in on the London stage).

And don't forget the rest of their 2018 season:

IS HE DEAD? (14 September - 6 October)
Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, is in love with Marie Leroux but in debt to a villainous picture-dealer, Bastien Andre. Andre forecloses on Millet, threatening debtor's prison unless Marie marries him. Millet realizes that the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune. Millet fakes his death and prospers, all while passing himself off as his own sister, the Widow Tillou. Now a rich "widow," he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life, and marry Marie. ~ RATED PG
The cast features favorite Ezra Eells as Hans Von Bismarck (Dutchy).


The exceptional tale of Milo, Tock and a certain magic tollbooth is brought splendidly to life on stage in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH JR. Adapted from Norton Juster's beloved, award-winning children's book, this inventive musical features a melodious score by Arnold Black and witty lyrics full of wordplay by Pulitzer Prize and three-time-Tony-winner, Sheldon Harnick. RATED G
GUYS AND DOLLS (16 November - 16 December)
Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City, GUYS AND DOLLS is an oddball romantic comedy. Gambler, Nathan Detroit, tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck; meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they've been engaged for fourteen years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result. GUYS AND DOLLS takes us from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong. ~ RATED PG
Auditions are THIS weekend 20-22 August.
See you in the audience! x

12 August 2018

Conejo Players: West Side Story IS Breaking Hearts!

Thousand Oaks' local favorite Conejo Players has been wowing audiences weekly since 20 July with their summer production of West Side Story. And if you haven't had a chance to get to Conejo Players to see this production, you'll be wanting to reserve a spot in your calendar for closing weekend (16-19 August)! Considering that this past Sunday's 2pm matinee was sold out you'll want to get a hold of those tickets ASAP.
Company. (c) Conejo Players.
Dale Alpert (Doc) and Cameron Liljekvist (Tony)
As always, Conejo Players pulls some of the best and brightest talent from the Conejo Valley and beyond. Director Devery Holmes (President of the Board of Directors) was so impressed with the talent she saw that the show's leads and several featured roles have been double casted and at Sunday's matinee, Tony and Maria were played by the capable and winsome Cameron Liljekvist and Jennifer Scott. Their charm was in their youthful exuberance experiencing first love. Major props to the couple for bringing passion and charm to "One Hand, One Heart" without making it nauseating. And the pain they both felt during the second act was palpable and gut wrenching. Similarly double casted, Cheyenne Green is feisty and sexy as Anita. Her almost rape scene (not quite as intense as the latest US National Tour) is tragic and heart wrenching as is her fabulous second act duetChino (Joel Tinjaca) was not only the best dressed cast member at the gym dance but happened to exhibit some fabulous acting chops during the second act in his scenes with Scott. Dale Alpert, who was last seen in Camarillo Skyway Playhouse's Little Women: The Musical, does a fabulous job as Doc providing the voice of reason of the show. I certainly was itching to applaud him on a couple occasions. Supporting standout was Allison Martinez (lastly in Camarillo Skyway Playhouse's Little Women: The Musical) as a hilarious and adorable Rosalia/Shark Girl and Michael Kronenberg as Baby John who tugged at the heart strings with his second act comments about the late rumble. The two surprise favorite leads of the day were Jeff Lawless and Tyler Lopez as Riff and Bernardo respectively. 

All in all though the casting was superb and not a weak link amongst them all. I was specifically interested in Holmes' decision to cast many of the Puerto Ricans Color blindly without the usual stereotype looks aside from her leading ladies for both casts and Lopez as Bernardo. Many of the Shark girls I would wager to be Caucasian whereas typically most jet girls are Caucasian and I notice one to be of color. This actually worked out well in connection one with the directors notes saying,
"during these times when street violence and race wars are still very real, West side story reminds us of the importance of embracing our differences; of forgiveness; and of the power of love." 
Lieut. Shrank (Ray Mastrovito), the show's largest and most obvious racist, puts it none of the boys are immune from being picked on for their background because as he points out most of the Jets are immigrants themselves be it from European countries. The line between the current scapegoat and last year's scapegoat is very thin as I believe our director was trying to point out with her casting decisions. Of course this could all just be my reading of the situation but it seemed to work well for the Conejo Players' production of Leonard Bernstein's famed musical.

Strong props go to costume designer Manuel Silva for the choice and decision to use color to differentiate between gangs and races with the exception of Maria. Also, the ballet costumes during act two were gorgeous and perfectly complemented and reflected the tone of the show. Similarly I found that wig designer Leo Zeller did a great job with the ladies' wigs making them appear very realistic and using them to help differentiate between the jet girls and the shark girls. In fact many times I was not even sure which lady was wearing a wig and who was not. And despite the very simple set design by John Eslick I found it came off well made and by not distracting from the story the sets helped move the plot along. And what a delight it was to have a live orchestra, featuring the likes of Margaret Joyce on Reeds, albeit thin and sometimes capable of drowning out the singers so lines were missed.
Ensemble. (C) Conejo Players.
But really Miriam Durrie-Kirsch's choreography (that was so well loved in Panic! Production's She Loves Me), with assistance by her daughter Dani Kirsch, was the star of the show. The program says that the choreography was inspired by the original version of Jérôme Robbins and there is no questioning that in the brilliant prologue and dance at the gym sequences. But after a short while you almost forget that anyone came before this brilliance choreographer because she makes every sequence her own. My favorite has definitely got to be her gorgeous ballet sequence during "Somewhere" that had me all choked up. But choosing a favorite has to be as difficult as the oft-time quoted "I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens" (Ever After). And did I even mention how quickly the time flew with impeccable scene changes and fast moving scenes that never left me craving more nor itching to check my watch.

West Side Story plays through Aug. 19 at the Conejo Players Theatre. Please do yourself the favor of seeing this breath taking, heart wrenching and sensational production. Even if you do not see the three leads I did, you're guaranteed a fabulous time thanks to their strong ensemble and the very talented Dale Alpert, Jeff Lawless, Tyler Lopez and Allison Martinez. This is one of the best community performances I've seen in a long time nearly rivaling five star theatricals recent production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. A++.

Location: 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks.
Parking: Free, spacious well lit parking lot (be sure to arrive early with plenty of time to park on sold out dates)
Tickets: $20 ($18 for students/seniors and military)
Rating (by Conejo Players): PG-13

PS-I used apples dictation app for my review due to my disability so please accept my apologies for any terrible spelling errors and grammatical errors.

05 August 2018

CPK: Pizza with a Purpose

Hi guys! Captain Hastings and I would like to invite you to join Life Animal Rescue in Thousand Oaks this week for a Pizza with a Purpose fundraiser at California Pizza Kitchen. 20% of your bill will go towards helping rescue dogs and cats find a warm and loving home. #AdoptDontShop

21 July 2018

Disney's Beauty and the Beast ROARS into Thousand Oaks!

Yvette Lawrence (Director) and Susan Egan (Belle). Photo by Ed Krieger.
Five-Star Theatricals, formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre, is presenting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for a limited two-week run with 10 performances from July 20 through 29. The show stars Susan Egan, who earned both Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for best actress as the original Belle in the 1994 Broadway production, and is directed by Yvette Lawrence, who was also in the original Broadway production and played Belle in Los Angeles opposite James Barbour. With music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and Book by Linda Woolverton, the Broadway musical has returned to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza 16 years after the 3rd National Tour's visit in 2002. And as newly titled Artistic Director Patrick Cassidy said on opening night, this is Broadway. And why he said? Because not only the Broadway quality talent from the AEA and those whom might be eligible for their AEA cards but thanks to Dan Redfeld's lush sounding 19 piece live orchestra.
Jason Chacon, Susan Egan. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Leading lady Susan Egan (Belle) is just as enchanting as she must have been in 1994. Her voice as lush and dynamic as was forever captured on the Original Broadway Cast recording. Her acting just as spritely and playful as exhibited at the Tony Awards. The last 24 years have done nothing to dampen the original Belle's allure. For those of you who have seen Egan on Broadway or at the Shubert Theater, you'll be delighted to know that this time around she gets to sing "A Change in Me" (the second act number that was written specifically for Toni Braxton's turn as Belle on Broadway) and it's as if you were listening to Egan's rendition on So Far but with the joy of seeing her live and opposite the delightfully paternal David Gilchrist (Maurice).

Her leading man, Jason Chacon (Beast), has tall shoes to fit but unfortunately never seems to hit the mark. His vocals are top notch when he hits those power notes during everyone's favorite ballad, "If I Can't Love Her". Perhaps part of the problem is visual because he does not appear to be that much taller next to Susan Egan or any of the other cast for that matter. Looking back that was one of the beauties of such performers as James Barbour - the height difference that lent itself to a menacing and fearful "Beast". It made it believable when Belle cowers and jumps in fear at the Beast when they argue in her bedroom at the castle. In this version however it became less of a scary beast but a temperamental beast. Belle was less the cowering girl locked away from her father but a stronger and more independent woman who is ready to fight and stand up for herself. Chacon did seem to come into his own more so during the second act when he had a chance to show his comedic chops opposite Marc Ginsburg (Lumiere) and Gregory North (Cogsworth) as the nervous lovestruck suitor.
Susan Egan, David Gilchrist. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Sadly Susan Egan (Belle) and Jason Chacon (Beast) were never able to create any real chemistry despite both being excellent actors and singers. Their best moments were during "Something's There" when Belle reads to the Beast. Egan did however charm the audience with her heart-tugging daughterly chemistry with community favorite David Gilchrist (Maurice). Lawrence perfectly nailed it when she said,
You'll totally believe the connection between Belle and her father...The connection the two of them have is just beautiful.
Marc Ginsburg, Jason Chacon. Photo by Ed Krieger.
The opening night castle residents all gave great performances and earned some of the most rousing rounds of applause. Marc Ginsburg (Lumiere) previously starred in 5-Star Theatricals' Joseph... as Reuben and Evita as Che where he was noted for being a vocal powerhouse. His turn as Lumiere was spot-on hilarious and his chemistry with Gregory North (Cogsworth) and Devon Davidson (Babette) sparkled as if they had been working together for months and not just weeks. Sarah Marie (Mrs. Potts U/S) is quite sweet and handles the title song well with professionalism. Nandami Sinha's Madame de la Grande Bouche is hilarious and exhibits strong operatic vocals but unfortunately her accent is tough to understand. A nice surprise were the talented Courtni Gidish and Aaron Camitses as Salt and Pepper who were a featured dance duo in "Be Our Guest".
William Carmichael, Adam Hollick, Justin Charles Cowden. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Adam Hollick as Gaston is properly full of bravado aided by Justin Charles Cowden as LeFou in one of the liveliest performances of the evening. Those who remember Hollick from last year's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be impressed by his comedic chops and well chiseled biceps. No, seriously, I heard two older ladies giggling in admiration over those very biceps on the walk to the parking garage. As his sidekick, Cowden is wonderfully buffoonish and handles all his physical comedy well.

And as is the norm with 5-Star Theatricals, the ensemble and kids ensemble were high caliber! Great dancers and singers.

Yvette Lawrence's direction and Cheryl Baxter's choreography deserve their own bow. Not being able to borrow from Robert Roth's original and iconic direction must be very tough but Yvette Lawrence makes the show her own as was best highlighted during "If I Can't Love Her" and Cheryl Baxter does a compelling job with a rousing "Gaston".

And as Patrick Cassidy said in his opening speech, many of the costumes, props and sets came direct from Broadway and tours and they look fabulous. Aside from some uncomfortable looking padding for the Beast, both of the title stars look radiant, especially when Egan gets to dazzle in her yellow ballgowns. The let down for those of us who have seen previous incarnations of Beauty and the Beast was the diminishing scale of what was once a large and lavish scenic design with an impressive castle, including the Beast's library and tower. Lawrence does make the most with what she has been given to work with. And in this reviewer's mind, this production still runs circles around the recent live action film.
Susan Egan, Adam Hollick, Ensemble. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Many might think this piece will only appeal to children. However, this is a musical with a universal appeal.  Beauty and the Beast is for both the young AND the young at heart. As Yvette Lawrence said,
Be prepared to fall in love with Beauty and the Beast all over again.
Note: This production is being dedicated to the memory of Gary Beach, the Original Lumiere, who sadly passed away on 17 July 2018.

Dates: 20 July - 29 July 2018
Tickets: $35-$89 at Ticketmaster or the Box Office
Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks, Thousand OaksCA 91362
Parking: $8 (cash only)
Appropriate Ages: All ages! All children must have a ticket.
Accessible Questions: See my previous post here.

20 July 2018

5 Star Theatricals Invites YOU to Be Our Guest!

Community favorite, 5 Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre) invites YOU to "Be Our Guest" for what looks like the musical experience of the year starring Susan Egan as Belle, the role she originated on Broadway in 1994.
Yvette Lawrence and Susan Egan. Photo by Ed Krieger.
For more details and ticket information, check out my interview with Yvette Lawrence, the show's director who also happens to have been Susan Egan's replacement as Belle in LA at the Shubert Theater!

Those of you who have accessibility issues, please see my post here.

Until next time!

06 July 2018

Beauty and the Beast: Interview with Yvette Lawrence!

Five-Star Theatricals, formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre, will present Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for a limited two-week run with 10 performances from July 20 through 29. The show stars Susan Egan, who earned both Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for best actress as the original Belle in the 1994 Broadway production, and is directed by Yvette Lawrence, who was also in the original Broadway production and played Belle in Los Angeles opposite James Barbour. I'm delighted to say that I had the opportunity to chat with Ms. Lawrence on the phone this week to talk about our mutual excitement for the upcoming production. So pull up a cuppa and let's chat...
The Joyous Living: What was your approach to staging Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?
Yvette Lawrence: I wanted to take it back to what Linda Woolverton and Howard Ashman wanted. Rediscovering, reimagine and retelling. Keeping it all based in the message and the strong story telling and focusing on the humanity of what has happened to everyone effected by the spell. Just look how one mistake can effect so many and how transformative is the power of love. 

The Joyous Living: How did your prior experience with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and being Susan Egan's LA replacement as Belle influence your decisions here?
Yvette Lawrence: Obviously we cannot do any of the original blocking and staging. That's not ours to do. An example of changed staging -- The opening is unlike the way it's been done before with the young prince at the door. Our story begins with a party. So that's a big change. It's more like the live action film being introduced to all the main characters in their human form. I wanted everyone to understand that everyone has been effected by this. We have children in our village and in past productions there were no children except for Chip in the castle and we have other children as enchanted objects so he's not the only child so that also makes a difference.

The Joyous Living: The 2017 live action film is probably on the young audiences’ minds when they are buying tickets to see the 5-Star Theatricals production. What would you say to them about expectations?
Yvette Lawrence: They are going to just rediscover the story. Anyone who only knows the movie with Emma Watson will actually get to experience the original Broadway Belle who worked directly with Linda Wolverton (the character's creator). Linda even came in and gave me notes when I was at the Shubert Theatre. Linda's empowerment of the Disney character and female was unique. She didn't want to write a heroine who needed to be saved but wanted to create a Disney heroine who saves the prince.

They'll get a great message and they'll also be super entertained. The choreography, staging, music and costumes! Getting to know these people as people. Even the enchanted objects - the humanity in them is so important for each one. Everyone has a story and in rehearsals we focus on being interconnected and having a story. They'll also not see a typical village of dancers but our village is made up of all shapes and sizes! We actually look like a village.

The Joyous Living: I personally was disappointed with Emma Watson’s yellow gown after Lily James’ opulent blue ballgown and the Broadway and National Tour signature yellow and gold ballgown. I remember going to see the national tour at its stop at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and hearing a little girl, in her Disney dress up gown, gasping and exclaiming to her father in excitement.

Do you have any special memories wearing that iconic gown?
Yvette Lawrence: Both dresses honestly. The blue dress is "oh my gosh! you are Belle." My first performance coming out I remember hearing a child in the audience gasping and saying "Belle!" And with the yellow ballgown you could feel the shift in the audience and feel the awww.  You also have that moment of aww, where you feel so beautiful like a princess. We've been doing Susan's fittings with the yellow ballgown and we will definitely elicit that response again. We'll have the little girls who go awww.

The Joyous Living: How uncomfortable was it to wear and dance around in? I heard stories it would move one way when Susan was trying to go the other way.
Yvette Lawrence [laughing]: Whenever you wear hoop skirts, you have to remember it's going to have a little extra life to it. If you try to do a little too much the gown tends to take over. The gown we have was a little heavy and we had to add a little alterations because Susan is tiny and that dress can become overwhelming

Adam Hollick, Susan Egan and Justin Cowden. Photo: Ed Krieger.
The Joyous Living: Tell me about your amazing cast.
Yvette Lawrence: This cast is just wonderful. Susan and I are always saying how they will not disappoint. People will think they're watching original cast members. They are fantastic. 

Fun fact: Tracy Ray Reynolds [Mrs. Potts] was in our original Shubert Theatre cast and without even knowing it all those years ago she was there absorbing and learning from Beth Fowler [The Original Mrs. Potts].

You'll totally believe the connection between Belle and her father. The first time Susan [Egan] and David Gilchrist [Maurice] sang "No Matter What" we all had tears in our eyes. The connection the two of them have is just beautiful. Tom Bosley [The Original Maurice] was such a patriarch of the show. He was such a papa and David is just the same.

Our Beast, Jason Chacon, is new to us but he IS fantastic. He's going to break your heart and he's also going to scare you.  When Belle leaves it is heartbreaking. We've been starting to work with his tail to work with it to get him used to it. He has an absolutely beautiful voice and a lovely actor.
Yvette Lawrence and Susan Egan. Photo: Ed Krieger.
Susan [Egan] has been wonderful to work with and open to saying it doesn't have to be the way it was before. We can tell it our own way. Susan sounds just like she did 24 years ago! There's a sense of maturity and experience that helps with the story telling. 

I had never really known Susan before. All I did was trail her for a week at the Shubert and she said "good luck". Fun Fact: She moved out of the Shubert with her black lab, Willa, and I moved in with my black lab, Audrey. And now we each have two girls. In fact my two girls are in the cast. One is a Silly Girl and another is a dancer in the show.

The Joyous Living: What has been your biggest directorial challenge thus far?
Yvette Lawrence: Working with a set with unknown variables. You don't always get what you are imaging so you adjust. While it's been challenging it's also really fun and you get to use your brain and redirect.

The Joyous Living: Many would say Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was the first family friendly Broadway musical. What would you say to parents who are debating taking their children to see the show?
Yvette Lawrence: Be prepared to fall in love with Beauty and the Beast all over again.

What a perfect way to wrap our interview. I can NOT wait to see this amazing cast and what magic Yvette Lawrence has whipped up for us with this limited production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. So be prepared to fall in love with the music and characters all over again and get your tickets fast because I can't imagine they will be around for much longer.

The cast of "Beauty and the Beast". Photo by Ed Krieger.
Tickets: $35-$89 at Ticketmaster
Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks, Thousand OaksCA 91362
Parking: $8 (cash only)
Appropriate Ages: All ages! All children must have a ticket.
Accessible Questions: See my previous post here.

30 May 2018

Bonjour Summer Fun

Hello Summer... Well, almost 😉.
Now that Memorial Day is over it's time to look forward to the upcoming summer festivals and activities in the Ventura County and there are a lot of exciting ones coming up!


2 - Next to Normal (through 6/17)
2pm & 8pm Performances
@ Hillcrest Arts Center, Thousand Oaks
Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, this Tony nominated musical is presented at the intimate Hillcrest Arts Center in Thousand Oaks.
$22-40 (VIP Experience Available)

15 - Little Women (until 7/15)
@ Camarillo Skyway Playhouse, Camarillo
The Broadway musical based on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.
$20 General Admission ($15 military/students, $10 children)


20 (through 7/29) - Disney's Beauty and the Beast
@ Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
5-Star Theatricals is putting Broadway's original Belle Susan Egan back in the enchanted yellow ballgown for a magical limited production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
$35-89, Group Sales available.


25 - "Abba Fab" Tribute to "Abba" Concert

7pm (Food available starting at 6pm)
@ Berniece Bennett Park, Westlake Village
Food available for purchase from "Epic Tacos Food Truck," "Grilled Cheese Truck," and "Middle Feast Food Truck."

12 January 2018

Motown: A Jukebox Musical with Sass and Rhythm!

Motown, the U.S. non-equity national tour, is currently in town for the weekend (Jan 11-14 2018) bringing musical joy to its Southern California audience with its jam-packed jukebox musical (over 50 hit numbers such as "ABC" and "Stop in the Name of Love").
Unfortunately the opening night (11 Jan) was marred by a fire alarm unexplainably going off just before the grand finale but hopefully all other performances will run smoothly. The joys and pitfalls of live theater. ⌣ But that is not going to ruin my memories of the great night out. Aside from hearing the amazing hit numbers live, the audience on 11 January were treated to fantastic foot work choreographed by Brian Harlan Brooks and many from the 'older' generations were able to laugh and clap aloud to moments that skipped over my 33 year old head (whoops, hehe) such as Rob McCaffrey's top notch Ed Sullivan interpretation that was the cause for many chortles and laughs from the audience. And dare I not mention all the incredible vocalists in the cast with hardly a weak note among them. 
Chase Phillips as Michael Jackson. Photo by Joan Marcus.
If one had to pick out the weakest performance it would also have be one of the audience's favorites -- Chase Phillips (who rotates with Kai Calhoun) playing the roles of Young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. His turn as a young Michael Jackson sees him on stage with the other Jackson 5 singing and dancing to memorable numbers such as "ABC". Unfortunately midway through his second number he did get winded and lost some steam but man did the audience love the kid. He is so full of energy and excitement and charisma. How can you not adore him?
Trenyce and Kenneth Mosley. Photo by Michael Pool.
But it is the show's 2 stars who will have you coming back for more and more. Being that this is a jukebox musical, the storyline tends to be limited and weak to make room for the infectious dancing and singing. However leading man Kenneth Mosley who stars as Berry Gordy is able to keep the rhythm flowing and prevents the show from dragging during the mini vignettes highlighting his personal life and highs and lows with Motown Records. He also knows how to tug at the heartstrings with his warming rendition of "To Be Loved" in the First Act.
Trenyce as Diana Ross. Photo by Michael Pool.
Trenyce in American Idol. Photo Credit: American Idol.
And even though the ensemble is filled to the brim with incredible vocalists such as Justin Reynolds (Smokey Robinson) and Matt Manuel (Marvin Gaye) the show ultimately belongs to leading lady and American Idol alumni, Trenyce, as Diana Ross.

Trenyce seamlessly takes Diana Ross from a young high school senior full of sass and spunk to a big time singer dealing with a business-personal relationship with Gordy to an unhappy superstar who sees no future with her lover. [Interestingly the show does not touch on the fact Diana Ross was 2 months pregnant with Gordy's daughter when she married her first husband Silberstein.] And the way she is able to connect with the audience at the top of the Second Act was brilliant. Trenyce is a talent that saw a too brief career on American Idol Season 2 and hopefully will no longer be hidden in the background after she takes the country by storm with her sensational performance as Diana Ross. This is one lady who deserves a big break and could easily carry this role in an equity production.

While the mediocre scenic design by David Korins (high praise to Projection Designer Daniel Brodie for making the most of the space) and minuscule "orchestra" under the baton of Conductor/Keyboard 1 Matthew Croft scream non-equity tour, the sensational casting by Wojcik and Seay Casting and the gorgeous costume design by Emilio Sosa all but makes up for it. And a big thank you to Director Charles Randolph-Wright for his delicate and appropriate approach to the social context surrounding Motown (JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Gaye, etc.) using Kenneth Mosley's calm presence as Gordy as a voice of reason in a time of hostile.

So do yourself a favor... turn off the television, stop reading the depressing news and get a ticket to see the enchanting and thoroughly entertaining Motown the Musical! You'll be clapping along, shaking your head with laughter and humming a tune or two on the way out...

Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + fees
Parking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+ (adult language)
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

10 January 2018

Mudslides Close 101 Freeway!

Hi Loves. Sorry it has been ages since the last post but I caught the nasty flu/virus that has been going around. Finally back on the up and up and making up all those doctor appointments I had to cancel the last couple weeks, woot woot.

101 Fwy. Photo by Greg Villeneuve.
In local news... 

I am sure you've heard of the horrific mud flooding in Montecito (Santa Barbara) yesterday morning. The 101 Freeway has been closed between Santa Barbara and Ventura and 13+ are dead. Horrific.

Prayers and best wishes with all families and friends and survivors.

Thanks to Island Packers commuters do have an option to get to and from Ventura and Santa Barbara for the duration of the 101 freeway closure.
Dad and I onboard Island Explorer.
For specific details including fare prices and contact information, visit their website here.

We have yet to hear if Motown the Musical (non-equity national tour) will be able to move from their last theater in Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks (scheduled dates 1/11-1/14) due to the 101 Freeway closure so 

Update (4:20pm PST): The Motown tour will be going the long way around to Thousand Oaks and should be ready to perform on 1/11 as planned!

01 December 2017

Brilliant!: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Last night the non equity tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder opened in Thousand Oaks for a brief weekend stay thanks to Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Theater League. And what a riot it was! If you recall, I absolutely loved the great equity tour that came through LA last year but wow this show was tremendous too with an A+ cast, all the same terrific sets and costumes and projections and fabulous direction from tour director Peggy Hickey.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder won the 2014 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design. They also won the 2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Projection Design (Aaron Rhyne). And after seeing last week's opening night performance I am convinced each of those awards was well deserved.

What makes the tour so incredible has to be the fresh and talented cast led by Blake Price as Monty and James Taylor Odom as the D'ysquith Family. And there was not a weak member of the cast! Ensemble member Kristen Antoinette Kane's turn as Miss Shingle helped introduce the plot to the audience with her A+ comedic timing, hilarious voices and flat out sensational singing sure set the bar high for the rest of the cast and boy did they deliver. Price and Odom were both on point 100% of the time with great chemistry, fabulous comedic timing and sublime solos such as Act II "Sibella". Their leading ladies (Colleen McLaughlin and Erin McIntyre) sang like angels, in particular Ms. McIntyre whom is just now making her U.S. Debut after performing in Europe. I would have paid good money to see Ms. McIntye's Christine Daae. 

The cast truly seemed deserving of the standing ovation they received last night at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza where they are performing through Sunday. I just regret that not all the jokes seemed to be comprehended and appreciated by the audience and yes the crude humor remains and seemed even more awkward the second time. Oh well.

If you are concerned about the quality because of the fact it is a non equity tour, the only weakness I found to be was that there was a very sparse orchestra. But thankfully there were at least some professional musicians unlike that ghastly Ragtime tour that used prerecorded music.

Only 5 more performances in Thousand Oaks before heading to El Paso!
  • Friday, December 1, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Decmeber 2, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 7:30 p.m.

Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderj (Non Equity Tour)
Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + fees
Parking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+, thematic elements and some crude humor
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

30 November 2017

This Weekend: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

HI guys!
Cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
Don't forget... this weekend the non-equity tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is stopping in Thousand Oaks, CA, for 6 performances:

  • Thursday, November 30, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 1, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Decmeber 2, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
Starring a young and energized cast, many of whom are on their first national tour, the 2017 is the follow-up to the 2016 equity tour that was at the Ahmanson Theatre last spring that had audiences cracking up with laughter non-stop at all the great jokes and pranks and the fabulous projections and sets.

Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderj (Non Equity Tour)
Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + feesParking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+, thematic elements and some crude humor
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.