Category Archives: Theatre/Stage

L.A. Improv Festival Coming Soon!

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The Fifth Annual LA Improv Fest is coming up 6/4-6/9 and registration for workshops and show tickets have just opened up.

I’ve been to a couple of the past festivals and boy howdy they have created some of my favorite comedy memories — I will always treasure Martin Mull roasting Fred Willard a few years ago.

The great thing about the fest is that you get the cream of the LA improv folks, along with some of the best talent from around the country. It’s a chance to see some established Hollywood types, mix with the next generation of talent. All with a sense of fun and no ego.

Registration has just opened for the workshops (disclosure I’m teaching one on how to podcast and the Ninja has a show in the fest), and show tickets go on sale 5/18.

More info here.

Dads In Drag for Fathers’ Follies! [Insert Wolf Whistle Here]

follies%2001.jpgA big thanks to Kim of 1947project.com for sending this on to me. Celebrating their 60th anniversary (whoa! that goes back to 1947!), the fathers of the Verdugo Woodlands PTA are putting on their annual show, “Fathers’ Follies”–a cavalcade of goofy weirdness to raise funds for said same PTA.

This is so awesome. You know when you had school projects–the castle you had to build out of sugarcubes? The year you had to make a scale model of one of California’s missions? And, like, your dad helped you, and he did SUCH a good job, cos he’s, like, A DAD?! And he applied all those daddical skills like carpentry and painting and building and knowing which contact cement works on plastic? And you ended up getting a B and not an A because your teacher knew you couldn’t possibly have applied that stucco yourself to the exterior of your milk-carton model of Mission San Juan Capistrano, and the actual glass panes in the church windows were just a dead giveaway?

Uh, I digress. Basically, think of all those awesome Dad Skills applied to a…vaudeville variety show. And then they put on insane costumes and act like little kids again and make their own kids’ jaws drop. “Dad looks great in those Daisy Dukes!”
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It’s an LA tradition and a homespun, hilarious evening. I think everyone should go, and I can’t believe I only just learned about it. Mad props to Kim! This year’s info and pertinent deets are here.

Photos courtesy Verdugo Woodlands PTA & Fathers’ Follies–go check out the rest on their web site!

Rogue Artists Brings the Punch

MrpunchA long stint as manager of my college’s theater box office and subsequent exposure to lots of terrible student productions did much to put me off live theater, but seeing that Rogue Artists are producing a stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s stunning graphic novel, Mr. Punch, thrills me to the tips of my toes:

Based the graphic novel by internationally acclaimed artists Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (creators of the Sandman comics, and Henson Pictures’ MIRRORMASK) and adapted for the stage by Hyper-theater mavericks Rogue Artists Ensemble, Mr. Punch features a dizzying array of puppets, masks and sounds that will make you feel as though you have stepped into the pages of a graphic novel.

If that’s not enough to sell you, just check out this gallery of production photos. I mean, c’mon! How awesome this going to be?! Obviously, I waited until I bought my tickets before telling you people about it, but now that I’m covered you’d better get on it because I’m sure the run will sell out.

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch
Friday April 27 – May 27
THEATRE/THEATER
5041 Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Arting Around Downtown

velvet.jpgSo, tonight’s the Gallery Row Artwalk Downtown. This eminently walkable (and bikable–don’t forget the art ride!) tour af artsy fartsyness is joined tonight by something even cooler. At 5th and Spring, in Charlie O’s (myspace) (501 S. Spring), the bar of the Alexandria Hotel, will be a one-off performance by some of downtown’s artists and creative mainstays you’ll never see again.

Inspired by the blue velvet curtains lining the place, Terry Ellsworth’s Homage to Blue Velvet will take over one of the cheesiest dives downtown and transform it into a cool blue heaven. All the lights will be blue; performances will be built upon and expand from inspiration from David Lynch’s most elegant, moody film. konrad.jpgEllsworth, who acts as helpmmeet, Cyrano, and bartender to much of Downtown’s art world, has recruited friend and sixspace artist Emmeric Konrad to do a live painting midway through the mysterious program of performances, and word on the street is that there’ll be several lovely muses in the buff or singing their hearts out, all against a background of shifting, shimmering blue.

Hopefully this event will go off fabulously, in which case maybe, just maybe, the Alexandria will let the artists of downtown into their carefully guarded, unseen-for-decades underground ballroom, with its glass ceiling. oooo!AlexandriaInside.gif

The performance art / live painting / music / dance / singing / screening of the film begins at 7:30pm.

Images courtesy Emmeric Konrad & the Alexandria.

Dinner And A Show

It was a trek between the two disparate locations, but wife Susan and I took in the matinee performance today of “Man of La Mancha” at A Noise Within in Glendale before struggling past five — count ’em: five — fender benders along the southbound 110 freeway between the 5 and the 10 to get to Messob Ethiopian Restaurant over on Fairfax Avenue.

Having been a theater reviewer for several years of a past life this wasn’t my first time before one of the best acting troupes in Southern California, but it was my first time seeing a production of the famed musical derived from Miguel de Cervantes “Don Quixote,” which is odd since the bright yellow soundtrack album featuring the cast of the 1965 Broadway hit is one I’ve been spinning and enjoying since first heard way back when I was in single digits and Richard Nixon was president. Not that I haven’t had opportunities with various touring productions that have passed through, but it took learning about it happening at A Noise Within to get me to finally put an official end to the drought. I could roust my dormant critic and have him go on at length about this marvelous production lovingly guided and beautifully realized by director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott as Cervantes/Don Quixote , but instead I’ll just say this is captivating theater and I can’t think of a better home for a show so near and dear to my heart than the esteemed A Noise Within’s stage.

This was also my first time doing more than driving or biking through the Little Ethiopia district and our inaugural Ethiopian dining experience was realized thanks to Messob being one of the few restaurants in that stretch of Fairfax to be open for business on Easter Sunday. In a nutshell what the place lacks in ambience and the impersonal, disinterested service we received is almost totally made up for by the phenomenal food. I’d suggest starting with a glass of their addictive honey wine and sambussa (a tasty triangular lentil-filled pastry) and if you can’t quite make up your mind about a main course, just go all in for the Super Messob Exclusive platter like we did ($22.99 for 1 person, $34.95 for two; photo of the monster dish after the jump). It arrives loaded up with a whole bunch of stuff with names like “Doro Wot,” “Siga Wot,” “Yebeg Siga Alitcha,” “Yater Alitcha, Kitffo,” “Tibs,” “Yatakilt Alitcha,” “Alitcha,” “Yemisir Wot” and more served up with a basket of unleavened bread called injera. But don’t fret about the lack of tableware because it’s all finger food and don’t fret about what anything specifically is because it’s aaaaaaaaall good. But here’s a tip; the plate for two can feed four people, easy!

A Noise Within: 234 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale; “Man of La Mancha” plays in repertory to June 10.
Messob Ethiopian Restaurant: 1041 S. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles; open daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Continue reading Dinner And A Show

Part fundraiser, part party

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[click to embiggenate]

The “Fundraiser Fete” by the “Happy Hour Theatre Group” is set for April 6, 2007 @8PM. It will be held at the

NoHo Actors Studio
5215 Lankershim Blvd (at Magnolia)
North Hollywood, 91601.

Reservations and more info can be had by calling 818-206-4050.

Where else can you do a good deed (they will decide which play they can stage based on the amount of funds raised) and have this much fun for only $10/person? Your donation gets you drinks and hors d’oeuvre. There will be local artists present, art all over the place, live music and a special performance from a Magic Castle magician. And don’t forget the raffles and door prizes.

Lastly, since “Happy Hour Theatre Group” is a non-profit group as defined in 501 (c)(3) your $10/person is tax deductible.

Totally Legal Art Thing Tonight

So here’s something I can really post on without my conscience hammering away at me (despite the fact that I have friends in the show; here on b.LA, opposite from my actual “real” work, I’m an artist first, a writer second).
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Dover’s Infusion Gallery downtown on Spring Street will play host to the latest Cannibal Flower show tonight. These things go down every month, and along with the openings at the Hive often seem to host some of the more promising groundswells of local artists. The Gallery Row artwalk and a schlep through Culver City are great ways to see the cream of the crop of both locals and international artists, and to get the flavor of what’s leading now in the art world–however, I dunno about you, but by the time their work hits these galleries, I can’t afford it (sorry, Caryn–I’m just dirt broke). Cannibal Flower shows, anything at the Hive, and also any of those hepcat Project: gallery events (recently relocated to Culver City) are good places to hone your tastes, decide what you like and don’t like, and handpick work by artists while they’re still affordable. There’s a lot of crap (as my professional mentor & spiritual guru says, “Most art sucks“), but there’s a lot of really fantastic work too. I might buy something tonight if I weren’t savin’ up my dough for a final trip snowboarding* this next week. Cannibal Flower shows are a cavalcade of DJ acts, bizarre bands (I liked the ninja band from a few shows ago), outrageous art, live painting, and peoplewatching unrivalled in Los Angeles, except possibly by Venice Beach. They’re so much more than an “art party”–it’s like an art carnival, with all the ribald insanity and off-the-hookness that implies.

Also tonight at CF is a performance by Lolita La Vey’s burlesque troupe [let me take a moment here to sigh with regret at the road not taken…sigh], who are effing awesome, and who, if you haven’t already seen ’em at El Cid, you should totally check out.

Dress totally weird and they’ll let you in as “walking art” for a discount. Address and info on the flyer at right: click to embiggen.

Blogged to the sounds of Athalia’s early ep from a few years ago; the dude has worked with Dntel (The Postal Service) and Strictly Ballroom, and is now known as The Minor Canon (myspace). They have a residency at Spaceland next month. I still have a soft spot for Athalia.

*also know as, “falling on my ass in the snow repeatedly while sliding down a mountain”

Inside The Los Angeles Theater

So my wife Susan and I ventured downtown last Sunday, drawn there both for the good works of L.A. Cowboy Brady Westwater who spearheaded and organized the first Saving L.A. Conference as well as as for the opportunity to explore the conference’s location, the historic Los Angeles Theater at 615 S. Broadway where I roamed to my heart’s content and took plenty o’ pix of the stately and aging and ornate movie palace — and was apparently in the vicinity of the ever-anonymous L.A. City Nerd who live-blogged the event.

Just for posterity and if you’ve never been inside, here’s an embiggenable pano from the mezzanine across the theater’s wings and stage and after the jump is another, a vertical one from the stage to the faded but still breathtaking ceiling detail and art.

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Continue reading Inside The Los Angeles Theater

Improv goes high tech!

Picture%206.pngOne new improv show opens Sunday night, another has a one night appearance in Hollywood. I have no idea if either will be funny – but both incorporate some fancy technology, so at the very least they won’t be boring.

Cartoon Overlord debuts Sunday night at Acme. The twist here is that its an “improvised cartoon stage show.” The audience is encouraged to bring in their own characters that they’ve drawn, or sketch some on site, and then have them scanned into a computer. Via computer gizmo magic, the “actors” then control the cartoons on a screen, turning them into 2D puppets, adding their voices. The software was supposedly made it with a spare computer and $100 in spare parts. Tickets are $12, or $10 if you bring some art to add to the show.

The AV Club has been around a bit longer, and appears to have spent more on their equipment. This live “faux news” improv show features a blue screen to transport the newscasters around the world, live man on the street interviews being shot live, out on the street in front of the theatre, and fancy TV graphics. These guys are getting some national exposure, but will be gracing their home stage at the IOWest in Hollywood on Saturday, March 24th. Tickets are only $5.