Digital Lottery opens March 10 for Hamilton at the Pantages Theater

Producer Jeffrey Seller announced a digital lottery for HAMILTON in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre will begin in conjunction with the show’s first performance, Thursday, March 12,

HAMILTON is the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, told through a score of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway show tunes.. It’s become a revolutionary moment in theatre, having a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.

IMG_5670

Now for a second run at the Pantages Hollywood, a select number of $10 tickets will be sold for every performance. Seat locations vary per performance, with some seats located in the front row. The digital lottery will begin two days prior to each performance.

Heres how to enter:

 1.  Use the official app for HAMILTON, now available for all iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store (HamiltonBroadway.com/app).

2. Visit www.HamiltonMusical.com/Lottery to enter.

IMG_5671

The digital lottery opens at 11 am, on March 10, for tickets to the Thursday, March 12 opening night performance.  Subsequent digital lotteries will begin two days prior to each performance. The lottery will close for entry at 9 am PT the day prior to the performance.

Winner and non-winner will receive notification at approximately 11 am PT the day prior to the performance via email and SMS (if mobile number is provided).

 Only one entry per person. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.

Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4 pm PT the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and code in a customized notification email. Tickets not claimed by 4 pm PT the day prior to the performance are forfeited.

Lottery tickets must be picked up at the will call window beginning 3 hours prior to the performance with a valid photo ID. Lottery tickets are void if resold.

Limit 1 entry per person, per performance. Multiple entries will not be accepted. Patrons must be 18 years or older and have a valid, non-expired photo ID that matches the name used to enter. Tickets are non-transferable. Ticket limits and prices displayed are at the sole discretion of the show and are subject to change without notice.

Lottery prices are not valid on prior purchases. Lottery ticket offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. All sales final – no refunds or exchanges. Lottery may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

IMG_5672

HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, with book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire,  Hamilton has won Tony®, Grammy®, and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors.

HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA, and General Management by Baseline Theatrical. The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

 For information on HAMILTON, visit www.HamiltonOnBroadway.comwww.Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical,www.Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and www.Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

Hollywood’s HELLO, DOLLY! is a Show Stopper

Walking up to the front of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, I noticed a sparkly tiara and bouquet of red roses with petals scattered around Carol Channing’s star. Channing who passed away on January 15, 2019 was the quintessential Dolly Gallagher Levi in the musical “Hello, Dolly!” She brought Dolly to life over 5,000 times.IMG_9525

I remember seeing the Tony Award winning actress perform the role at the Hollywood Pantages when I was a young girl. About seven years ago, I saw her again dining with friends at Culina inside the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. She received the same adoration from the servers at the restaurant, as she did onstage.

Other stars have performed the role including Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters, and now Broadway legend Betty Buckley is the lovable matchmaker who has a business card for every specialty.

Around the same time that I saw Channing perform the role of Dolly, I was watching Buckley on television as the beloved stepmom Abby Bradford on the television show Eight Is Enough.

IMG_9610

Standing next to the red carpet on Opening Night, I was warmed to see Abby Bradford’s “stepkids,” now all grown up, walk down the carpet showing their support. Connie Needham, Laurie Walters, Adam Rich, Dianne Kay, and Jimmy Van Patten brought a bouquet of flowers to present to Buckley after her performance.

The show starts with a kaleidoscope of colorful lighting by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), and costumes by four-time Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design). The Jewel and rainbow sherbet hues dazzle the stage, especially during “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “Before the Parade Passes By.” This cast is one of the best dressed ever.

Buckley is a natural in this role. She may not be as overly wide-eyed expressive, and her singing voice isn’t as over-the-top distinctive as Channing, instead it’s easier on the ears. When Buckley appears in her gorgeous red floor-length dress and gracefully saunters down the grand stairway, she delivers her lines and sings so passionately that the audience applauds and even rises to give her a standing ovation, before the show is over.

Other stand out performances include Dolly’s tight-fisted, soon to be paramour Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Stadlen). Stadlen’s comic timing is flawless and fun to watch. I was mesmerized with the Vandergelder’s Hay and Feed Store set, especially when Stadlen sings the catchy tune “It Takes a Woman” with the all-male Instant Glee Club. This barbershop genre song has the ensemble of men popping out of boxes and magically appearing on the multi-level detailed set.

I laughed out loud often watching Cornelius Hack (Nic Rouleau) and his partner in crime Barnaby Tucker (Jess LeProtto). Both these actors have perfect timing in their antics and facial expressions throughout the show.

Other show-stoppers include the adorably shy Minnie Ray (Kristen Hahn) who blossoms while falling more in love with Barnaby, and hat shop owner Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming) singing in a beautiful Broadway-style soprano voice “Ribbons Down My Back.”

Two impressive props include the life-size horse and trolley in the beginning number “I Put My Hand In” and the steam locomotive at The Yonkers Depot.

Jerry Herman’s other memorable lyrics include “So Long, Dearie”, “Before The Parade Passes By” (Buckley had tears in her eyes), and of course “Hello Dolly!”  These songs were so popular in the 1960s, that the original cast album was No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart for seven weeks.

Choreographer Warren Carlyle’s “The Waiters’ Gallop” reminded me of Disney’s “Be Our Guest” with a twirling array of formally dressed waiters swaying, jumping and rolling while holding silver trays of food.

The final scenes offer a healthy dose of slapstick comedy, especially when the Keystone style cops chase others around the set.

There is never a dull moment in this entertaining Golden Musical filled with humor, love and comedic excellence that will have you rise from your seat in exuberant applause.

HELLO, DOLLY! is at the HOLLYWOOD PANTAGES THEATRE for 3 weeks only, now through February 17, 2019. Tickets for “HELLO, DOLLY! are now on sale, and available at http://www.HollywoodPantages.com/HelloDolly and http://www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at (800) 982-2787 or in person at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office (Opens daily at 10am).

The performance schedule for HELLO, DOLLY! is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. Opening Night is Wednesday, January 30th at 8pm.

HELLO, DOLLY! is recommended for all ages. Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. Individual tickets for HELLO, DOLLY! start at $35. Prices are subject to change without notice. A complete list of cities and dates for the national tour of HELLO, DOLLY! can be found at http://www.HelloDollyOnBroadway.com.

This review was featured in OnStage Blog .

Stick It To The Man – School of Rock

It’s been a while since I’ve walked out of a theatre humming a song from a musical. After seeing School of Rock on opening night, I found myself not only humming, but singing “Stick it to the Man” while driving home. The next day, I sang it again while doing chores around the house. Not only is this song catchy, it had the audience up and out of their seats at the end of the show.

The original score by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and clever lyrics by Glenn Slater were inspired by Julian Fellowes book.Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s high-octane Broadway and West End show is a hit at the Pantages Theatre. It was a thrill to see Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, walking the red carpet and posing with some of the young and talented cast before taking a seat to see his show.

My review of School of Rock is featured on OnStage Blog –http://www.onstageblog.com/reviews/2018/5/7/review-school-of-rock-is-now-in-session?rq=School%20of%20Rock

Golden Moments Watching Aladdin

Want to see a great Bromance where the lead actors have each others backs? Go see Aladdin now at The Pantages. The first time I experienced Aladdin was in 1992 with my young daughter as we watched Disney’s animated feature until we could sing every word to each lyrical songs by Howard Ashman (two time Oscar winner) and Time Rice (three-time Tony and Oscar winner) and music by Alan Mencken (Tony Award and eight-time Oscar winner).


Disney brought the show to life at the Hyperion Theatre inside Disney’s California Adventure from 2003 to 2016. The musical was also performed onboard Disney Cruise Line ships. Since it was a Broadway style show at these venues, I knew one day it would premier in New York and hopefully come to Los Angeles.

Sitting through the opening night performance, I noticed this newer Broadway-musical has many of the same characters and songs, with a few new additions. Director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, and Something Rotten!) and book writer Chad Beguelin opened Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014 to critical acclaim.

IMG_6795
Adam Jacobs – Aladdin

It’s hard to be the Genie, after the late comedic Robin Williams brought the lovable character to life in a schizophrenic whirlwind of humor and charm, yet actor Michael James Scott is bigger than life character onstage receiving adoration from the Los Angeles audience, especially in the golden “Friend Like Me” musical number.

Adam Jacobs is the perfect Aladdin. He opened the show as the title character on Broadway and we are lucky in Los Angeles to see this talented and charismatic Broadway star onstage.


Not only do Aladdin and the Genie have chemistry together, but the show humanizes the animal characters, introducing three new and very entertaining friends of Aladdin – Babkak, Omar and Kassim (photo above of actors Philippe Arroyo, Zach Bencal and Mike Longo), instead of Aladdin’s kleptomaniac monkey partner Abu.

The rich voice behind Jafar is actor Jonathan Weir. Instead of a wisecracking parrot sidekick, the evil villain has a hilarious human partner played by Reggie De Leon as Iago. Jafar’s references to the beloved bird from the animation is in a line to De Leon “Really Iago, must you parrot everything.“ Iago reminds me a lot of Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

IMG_6808
Jasmine played by Isabelle McCalla

Jasmine played by Isabelle McCalla’s performance warms up when she takes a magic carpet ride with Jacobs. Who wouldn’t, he’s dreamy.

New songs in the show include Aladdin singing a moving number, “Proud of Your Boy” and the hilarious “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin and Kassim.” They come back after intermission with the show stopper “Somebody’s Got Your Back”.

Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, and six-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz. Their sets are spectacular, especially when the emerald green interior of the cave where Aladdin and the Genie meet, turns into a brilliant golden oasis with a tap dancing, fist pumping number with references to other successful Menken, Ashman and Rice Disney musicals. The applause was almost deafening as Michael James Scott was visibly moved by the audience adoration, thanking Los Angeles for their kindness.

IMG_6803
Actress Michelle West

There was some Disney magic during the breathtaking magic carpet scene with a black sky and shooting stars, as Aladdin and Jasmine soared above the stage without a base or cable lines for the audience to see.

Two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes colorful array of Las Vegas style “bling” outfits include belly dancing ladies in harem pants, shirtless sword swallowing men and a sparkling Genie’s Zoot Suit.

Another impressive scene was “Prince Ali” with choreography by Nicholaw, vocals and music by music director Michael Kosarin, orchestration by Danny Troob and dance music arranged by Glen Kelly. Disney style streamers are shot into the audience and pyrotechnics create a grand scale introduction.

As a line in the show states, “It’s not what’s on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts.” Inside the Pantages, they have another winning show that appeals to families (children under 8 might be scared during a couple scenes) and Aladdin fans of all ages.
Disney is currently working on Aladdin, an upcoming American musical movie directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s scheduled to premier in 2019.

To purchase tickets, Click on this link.

Rise Up! Hamilton is at the Pantages Theatre

IMG_0355“History Has Its Eyes” on Hamilton, “So Take A Break” and buy a ticket to one of the hottest American Musicals in history. “You’ll Be Back” and sometimes will feel “Helpless” after seeing this Los Angeles cast perform in a show that will leave you “Satisfied”, because they “Blow Us All Away.”

IMG_0368

Two years ago, my friend Erica gave me the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and the original Broadway production CD of Hamilton: An American Musical, as a birthday present. I opened the book (published in 2004), and started reading it, while listening to the rap and hip hop musical numbers that surprisingly enhanced my desire to learn more about America’s Founding Fathers. The upbeat, cleverly written show tunes transformed me after just one listening session. While driving up to San Francisco, I listened to the two disc CD and often listened to certain songs multiple times. Others in my car weren’t as enthusiastic to listen to the CD repeatedly, so I became a closet Hamilton junkie. I turned up the volume while alone in my car, as I sang along with the electrifying voices of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom, Jr and other cast members multiple times.

“Alexander Hamilton, I’ve been waiting in the wings for you,” anxious for you to come to Los Angeles. The book and music inspired me to look into flying from Los Angeles to New York City to see the show. Yet with ticket prices quickly rising to beyond my budget after winning the 2016 Best Musical and 10 other Tony awards, I thought it was best to wait until the touring company arrived in Los Angeles. 

Deep down I think I was afraid to hear the voices of this new cast that might sound so different than the beloved ones I was so familiar with on my CD. Would they be as good?

Sitting in row H seat 303, one week after the opening night at the Pantages Theatre, I excitedly took my seat and admired the two story wooden stage by David Korins. A couple from Malibu took their seats next to me and leaned over to ask if I was familiar with the musical? Excitedly, I told them yes and that I knew every line to every song. The wife asked me what the show was about? I was dumbfounded. “It’s about Alexander Hamilton,” I answered. Then she asked me what era did it take place in? “The 1770s,” I said looking at her as if she was joking. When she asked me about the story line, I replied, “It’s about the American Revolution.” Obviously she was strolling along the beach on the night the CBS 60 Minutes episode of Lin-Manuel Miranda aired. He recited the opening song Alexander Hamilton in front of President Obama and the First Lady during the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken World Jam. With the success from that enchanted evening, Miranda was encouraged and inspired to write “My Shot,” and other show stoppers.

As the lights dimmed, tears formed in my eyes as the live orchestra played the first few notes of the opening song and the cast appeared onstage with actor Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr. I was pleased with his voice, and noticed the ensemble sounded very similar to the original cast. What electrified me were their facial expressions. Seeing Henry’s expressions while listening to his strong and powerful voice, especially in “Wait For It” had everyone in the audience applauding. Even though some people in the audience know Burr was “cursed as the villain in history,” the audience adored Henry.  Another winning Henry scene was “Dear Theodosia” with Burr in one chair and Hamilton in another singing about his son Phillip.

I glanced at my Hamilton newbie neighbors to see if they were enjoying the show as much as I was. The husband was starting to fall asleep. WHAT? I wanted to nudge him awake to see Michael Luwoye as Hamilton sing “My Shot,” yet left that to his wife. How could you fall asleep with the lights, sounds and brilliant voices bringing a historical American journey of Independence to life? 

I was surprised to see one of the wealthy Schuyler sisters, Angelica, sporting a dyed Mohawk hair style. Emmy Raver-Lampman’s voice was so similar to the original cast member Renée Elise Goldsberry, that I thought it was the same actress, just with a different look. However during intermission, I realized she was a new, glorious Angelica, as she sang “Satisfied” in the wedding scene. Realizing her beloved sister Eliza was falling head over heels with the same man in the number “Helpless,” Angelica knew she and Hamilton would never be fully satisfied. 

Listening to the CD hundreds of times, I was mesmerized by Soo’s voice as Eliza. In the Los Angeles cast, Solea Pfeiffer had the audience begging for more while singing “That Would Be Enough”. She has us in tears as she heartbreakingly sings about her husband’s infidelity in “Burn”. I sat at the edge of my seats as she burned many of the letters he had written to her over the years, while trying to “erase herself from the narrative,” in history books. 

The character Peggy played by the talented Amber Iman provided some comic relief during “The Schuyler Sisters” number and won pity from the audience as Maria Reynolds. 

With the spirit of revolution in the air, the whimsical Samuel Seabury (Andrew Wojtal) provided a few chuckles before Rory O’Malley playfully reminds the colonists that as King George, he will fight for their submission in “You’ll Be Back.” He exaggerated his facial expressions and mannerism in signing, “What Comes Next?” while wondering how his rebels would successfully govern on their own. His giddiness was amplified when hearing about the United States’ political turmoil in “I Know Him”.

Lighting Designer Howell Binkley enhanced the musical numbers especially with “Right Hand Man” and one of my favorite songs, “Rise Up” as General George Washington (played by the talented Isaiah Johnson) receiving enthusiastic applause.

In fact, I haven’t been to a show in quite some time where the audience applauds, whistles, hoots and appreciatively hollers after every musical number. In fact sometimes they couldn’t contain their exuberance while waiting until the last note was sung, before conveying to the cast their admiration.

Another winning scene is Hamilton, Laurens, Lafayette and Mulligan drunkenly celebrating Hamilton’s marriage to Eliza with “buddy-style” camaraderie. The talented Jordan Donica playing the character Lafayette, also plays the giant Afro jiggling head Thomas Jefferson. Donica wowed the audience with his comedic timing and French accent. His bigger than life personality draws all eyes on him whenever he enters the stage. 

Mathenee Treco as the thug-like spy Hercules Mulligan and also as James Madison was also a lot of fun to watch.

Director Thomas Kail and Scenic Designer David Korins idea of a round movable Lazy-Susan-style stage worked so well in many scenes, especially in the musical number “Ten Duel Commandments.”

Another scenic stunner was the ensemble’s choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. The ensemble and Hamilton’s tilted desk musical number “Non-Stop” right before intermission was very clever as we watched Hamilton “write like he’s running out of time.” 

I wasn’t sure how they would portray Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds in “Say No To This,” yet it was tasteful and family friendly. 

Burr brought down the house again with his envy of Hamilton’s power during another stunning musical number “The Room Where It Happens.” I tell you, this Joshua Henry can sing!

Luwoye and Johnson in “One Last Time” as George Washington resigns, sets the stage for the twist in the plot with “The Reynolds Pamphlet” and “Never Gonna Be President Now.”

One could hear a pin drop as the audience watches Hamilton crumble physically and emotionally while begging for Eliza’s forgiveness, as the ensemble sings “It’s Quiet Uptown,” and during the aftermath of Hamilton’s son, Philip’s death. The young Ruben J. Carvajal is believable as Philip and the character John Laurens.

After the historical dual between Burr and Hamilton, and Hamilton’s soliloquy on death, we still have sympathy for the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in “The World Was Wide Enough”. 

At the end of the story, Eliza upholds her husband’s legacy and outlives him 50 more years. Her drive to interview everyone who knew Hamilton helps her tell his story. We learn she establishes a private orphanage in his honor during the sensational song, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” 

Walking out of the Pantages Theatre almost three hours later, I rushed over to The Stage Door to meet the newer cast. “History Has Its Eyes” on Hamilton, “So Take A Break” and buy a tickets to one of the hottest American Musicals in history. “You’ll Be Back” and sometimes will feel “Helpless” after seeing this Los Angeles cast perform in a show that will leave you “Satisfied”, because they “Blow Us All Away.”

Flying High After Seeing Finding Neverland

My friend Toni had an extra ticket to Finding Neverland at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Since I love musicals, I enthusiastically said yes. Little did I know, this entertaining show would capture both of our hearts with its talented cast, sets, and multi-media “magical” experiences.

FullSizeRender-499

Based on the book by James Graham and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, we learn about the inspiration behind Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie writing of his best told story, Peter Pan.

finding-neverland-01

The scenic design by Scott Pask is filled with emerald green as Tinkerbell opens the show with her illuminating light. The end is so magical, that Toni had to ask an usher how they created the finale.

This is a show from the beginning to the end, where the actors onstage are having the time of their life. The choreography by Mia Michaels is creative and fun, especially in the numbers “Welcome to London”, “The Dinner Party”, “Circus of Your Mind”, “We’re All Made of Stars”, “When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground” and “Neverland.”

a_scene_from_the_national_tour_of_finding_neverland_-_photo_by_jeremy_daniel

Stuck in a rut writing formula plays for a theatre company, Barrie played by the talented Billy Harrigan Tighe happens to meet a widow Sylvia Llewellyn Davies played exquisitely by Broadway star Christine Dwyer and her four imaginative boys at Kensington Park. Three of the boys Michael, George and Jack pretend they are pirates and let their imaginations run wild with make believe adventures, while son Peter is more in a pensive mood, often with his nose in a book. We soon learn that Peter took the death of his father the hardest. He has had to grow up too fast, after this devastating loss.

Billy_Harrigan_Tighe-copy-1
Billy Harrigan Tighe

While talking to their mother and watching the boys play, Barrie’s life soon turns around 180 degrees as he observes and writes about his new friends. Life is too absurd to be taken seriously, so Barrie scraps his “formula” plays and writes a new type of play to help his theatre company rise up again with a successful hit.

Projection designer Jon Driscoll illuminates a back screen to take the audience to the streets of London. We notice images of rolling clouds and moving water in a river that seem so real.
cct-neverland-0126-01

A few scene stealers include Tom Hewitt as Theatre Producer Charles Frohman and Captain James Hook, Barrie’s darker alter ego. Hook offers advice in a comedic fashion to inspire Barrie to write and follow his instincts, purely from the heart with a childlike imagination.

David_Dwelvan
Dwelvan David

Others who stand out are Karen Murphy as Mrs. du Maurier, the boys grandmother hoping she will not be cast as the crocodile, and Dwelvan David as the reluctant furry dog character in Peter Pan who receives a few hearty laughs.

Two “awe” moments are whenever the beloved labradoodle prances onstage and when the four brothers pick up instruments and perform, “We’re All Made of Stars.” Both pull on the heart strings of the audience.

After a 15 minute intermission, the second act takes the audience to the backstage of the theatre company and we are throughly entertained with the number, “The World is Upside Down.” The story blossoms as Barrie teaches Peter and the serious method actors in his theatre company, how to be more child-like and remember when simple things were fun.

We learn how Tinkerbell might have been named “Shiny Bottom” if Peter didn’t collaborate with Barrie. Peter is so grateful to Barrie for giving him the best present ever, and the entire audience claps loudly (before the curtain call), to save Tinkerbell and Sylvia from fading away.

Dwyer_Christine
Christine Dwyer

Too sick to attend the opening night performance of Peter Pan in front of a London audience, Sylvia and the boys encourage Peter and Barrie to go to the show, even after they insist on staying with her. Afterwards, they return with the theatre troop to reenact the show for her one last time. All is not lost when we have light, everlasting light.

The final scene with Sylvia’s swirling robe and a big handful of magic dust sparkling above the stage, demonstrates how the greatest journey in life is often the most difficult.

a6ac17f4-d82b-11e6-9526-f50071d0faba-1334x911Theatre should be for everyone and this play is for every person who has a child screaming to find pure childlike joy.

This show leaves the The Pantages Theatre on March 12, however after a few days in Tempe, AZ, the show will return to Southern California  –

Costa Mesa, CA 03/21/17 – 04/02/17 at The Segerstrom Center for the Arts

San Diego, CA 04/04/17 – 04/09/17 San Diego Civic Center

Tour Schedule for Finding Neverland

12 of the Best LA Theatrical Performances in 2016

I’ve been blessed to see some of the best theatrical productions in Los Angeles in 2016, as a guest columnist for an informative East to West Coast Theatrical Review and News site –  The Stage Review.

Here are my top 12 shows that inspired me to write the following reviews –beautiful-tour

  1. Beautiful at The Pantages Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/07/11/review-exquisitely-beautiful-pantages/org_img_1463005512_l-img_0073
  2. In & Of Itself at The Geffen Playhouse – https://stageandscreenreviews.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/the-magic-of-in-of-itself/org_img_1479159993_l-img_0117-2
  3. Icebergs at The Geffen Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/11/20/review-icebergs-geffen-playhouse/org_img_1473968480_l-img_0367-2
  4. Barbecue at The Geffen Playhouse – http://thestagereview.net/2016/10/02/barbecue-smokin-hot-geffen-playhouse/ darren-criss-hedwig
  5. Hedwig and the Angry Inch at The Pantages Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/11/08/hedwig-angry-inch-pantages-theatre-review/battlefield
  6. Romeo & Juliet: Love is a Battlefield at The Prospect Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/07/17/review-romeo-heartbreaker/L-R: Marie Mullen and Aisling O’Sullivan in the Druid production of
  7. The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Mark Taper Forum – http://thestagereview.net/2016/11/17/review-intense-beauty-queen-leenane-mark-taper-forum/org_img_1466469982_l-big-sky-60c
  8. Big Sky at The Geffen Theatre – https://stageandscreenreviews.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/first-blog-post/ 04-avftbla_l-a-_31-08-2016_-8810
  9. A View From the Bridge at the Ahmanson Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/09/19/review-intense-view-bridge/fantasticks-pasadena
  10. Fantasticks at the Pasadena Playhouse – http://thestagereview.net/2016/09/19/review-fun-fantastic/merrily-wallis
  11. Merrily We Roll Along at the Wallis Annenberg Theatre – http://thestagereview.net/2016/12/07/review-merrily-we-roll-along-the-wallis/ham-pasadena

       12. Sam Harris in Ham at The Pasadena Playhouse – http://thestagereview.net/2016/07/09/review-sam-harris-shines-brightly-pasadena/

It was an excellent year for theatre in Los Angeles. I Iook forward to the dramas, comedies and musical shows scheduled to debut in 2017.

Beautiful Ends July 17 at Pantages

IMG_1319In two words I describe the current musical at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood – Exquisitely Beautiful!

Sitting in row M in the 2700 seat Pantages Theater, actress Abby Mueller portrays songwriter and singer Carole King exquisitely to a sold out crowd. She walks out onto the stage and sits at a beautiful black grand piano, “Sometimes life doesn’t go in the direction you like, sometimes it’s beautiful.”

Actress Suzanne Grodner is superb in the musical playing King’s mother Genie Klein.

IMG_1354
Fabulous actress Suzanne Grodner and Conductor/Piano Susan Draus                           Photo by Jill Weinlein

While playing the piano, she reminds King often that her father left her for another woman. Later in the show she gives King encouragement and strength to continue pursuing her dream, especially when Kings’ marriage fails.

King was very smart young woman, skipping two grades and attending Queens College before the age of 17. At college she meets his first husband Gerry Goffin, played by the handsome singer Liam Tobin. Together, the write “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and other hits from a little record studio for music producer Don Kirshner, played at our performance by the likable Matt Faucher.

IMG_1341
The talented singer and actor Liam Tobin plays King’s husband Gerry Goffin

This is an era of singing groups that soared to the top of the charts. There were the Drifters, The Shirelles, The Righteous Brothers and Janelle. These groups had one lead singer and three backup singers. King and Goffins were successful in selling their songs to them. The actors and singers who perform in the show as theses groups were outstanding.

IMG_1329
King, Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin – Photo from the Pantages Theatre.

Lyricist Cynthia Weil is played by a young Kristin Chenoweth look and sound alike, Becky Gulsvig. She is adorable and funny onstage. Her boyfriend Barry Mann, played by Ben Fankhauser is a talented hypochondriac songwriter who adores Becky.
These two couples King and Goffin, Weil and Gulsvig compete to sell number one songs to Kirshner. Working in offices next to each other, they become friends, even though King and Goffin sell more songs.

We learn how each of King’s songs were written by the emotions felt by King and Goffin during their bi-polar marriage. When their marriage goes south, Carole’s mother Genie gives King a pep talk to help her daughter gain strength to continue to follow her dreams. When she moves on to Los Angeles, her record producer Don Kirshner introduces her to music producer Lou Adler. Eventually they make, sell and win a multitude of awards for her “Tapestry” album.

IMG_1333
Photo provided by Pantages Theatre.

One of my favorite scenes is when Adler, played by John Michael Dias, encourages King to sing “A Natural Woman.”

Other characters worth noting are perky Ashley Blanchett playing babysitter Little Eva and nailing the song “The Locomotion” flawlessly.

Throughout the show, the audience hears the first few notes of a King song and it instantly is recognized. For many it brings back a “of-yeah” memory or moment.

Don’t rush out of your seat before the curtain call, because the end of the show is one of King’s top songs sung by the entire cast. Everyone in the audience rises to sing with the cast in a very “feel good” moment.

You will walk out of the show with a new appreciation of a Beautiful songwriter who writes from her heart.

This musical is only playing through July 17. There are still a few tickets available. Go to Hollywoodpantages.com (800)982-2787 or purchase your tickets at Ticketmaster.

After Los Angeles this show is traveling to Denver, San Diego and San Francisco.