One rave review to share with you this time… and a listing of promising productions to come…

The Mighty Mississippi – At Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

Von Smith, Frenchie Davis and Ty Taylor in “Upright Cabaret’s American Icon Series - Mighty Mississippi.”

A one-night-only concert thrill! What a magical, musical, mesmerizingly “heart-stopping” show… I could sit through it again and again! This show, part of “The American Icon Series,” debuted recently at The La Mirada Theatre, to a sold-out audience and will explode one more time in Palm Springs (date to be announced). To learn more about this exciting concert and upcoming productions, go to www.uprightcabaret.com. This one-part concert, part “showcase” and part tribute to three iconic and beloved stars of the music business covers the unforgettable songs of Elvis, Prince and Louis Armstrong. It is presented and charmingly hosted by Chris Isaacson, whose “Upright Cabaret” shows have “wowed” audiences since 2004, in venues both intimate and large (over 450 events so far). This is the second in a series of four “American Icon” offerings you can still catch, with the last two at this lovely theatre… and you must! On April 10th, don’t miss “Country Roads,” celebrating the songs of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash – on and July 9th– “City of Angels,” presenting the songs of Doris Day, Joni Mitchell and Brian Wilson. Mark down those dates! Now let’s talk about the crowd-pleasing show I caught last night. The series’ band of “kick-butt” musicians is positively electrifying! The best of the best! Kudos to Dave Bass (sax/flute), Aron Forbes (guitar), Matt Lucich (drums/percussion) and Carter Wallace (bass guitar). Todd Schroeder, fabulous on piano, and the production’s flawless musical director (one of the most sought after in the “biz”), is a joyous, tasteful, and highly-gifted “show” all by himself! His musical choices and deeply felt connection to the band is incomparable! The show opens with Ty Taylor rockin’ the songs of Presley. Soulful, slick and sassy, this Broadway stage performer and finalist on TVs “Rockstar: INXS” definitely got the party started! Frenchie Davis commanded the stage, covering Armstrong’s signature songs (and more). An “American Idol” favorite (Season Two), and later starring in Broadway’s “Rent,” her hypnotically powerful and sensual vocal style brought the house down! Von Smith blew us away with his impeccably styled versions of Prince tunes! An American Idol finalist (Season Eight), this kid is headed for major stardom! With “mad” singing skills, an unbelievable vocal range, a great “look,” and infectious charm… it’s only a matter of time. Can you tell by now that I loved this show? Go to their website to find out how, when and where you can be a part of Upright Cabaret’s magic!

Mark Your Calendars

Theatre for 2011 is finally “kickin’” off, and I’ll be there, “front and center,” to tell you all about these promising productions…

Ballroom with a Twist – Opening January 20 at The El Portal Mainstage in NoHo

A celebration of dance, music, “fab” costumes and star power… this should be amazing! With Gilles Marini and Jane Seymor alternating the hosting roles, the concept and eye poppin’ choreography of Louis van Amstel (“Dancing with The Stars”) will “rock” the expansive stage! A sensual and exciting experience awaits us! Featuring some of DWTS’ hottest dance pros, and vocals by two American Idol finalists from Season Seven, they will fuse the styles of classic ballroom, hip hop and Broadway with sizzling energy and passion! So many “celebs” in the cast… will credit names when I actually review the show.

Emily’s Song – Opening January 21 at The Hudson Backstage in Hollywood

Billed as an emotionally riveting musical, abundant with life’s epic up’s ‘n’ downs… this will be a world premiere. The story focuses on Emily, a 10 year old girl who loses her mother at birth, and then also her father at age 10.

As years pass, Emily’s songwriting skills and soulful voice brings her wide acclaim, though she is emotionally challenged by her lifelong “fear of loss.” Written and directed by Chet Holmes, and starring Lindsey Haun as Emily (currently featured in HBO’s “True Blood”), this promises to be a poignantly uplifting journey…

Not Fade Away – Opening January 21 at Crown City Theatre in NoHo

Performed with high energy and mega talent by L.A.’s hottest ‘50s/’60s tribute band, this “rockin’ revival” will have you “groovin’” in your seats! Covering beloved songs from Buddy Holly to The Beatles (and more), these seasoned young artists have collectively played over 2,000 performances countrywide to rave reviews! (I’m already booked elsewhere on their opening night, but one of our other reviewers will be there. I’ll catch it later.)

The Trip to Bountiful – Opening January 28 at Lonny Chapman Theatre in NoHo

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Horton Foote penned this poignant script, which garnered an Oscar nod to Geraldine Page, for the 1985 film version. An American classic story with a lot of heart and sentimentality to ponder, this is a lovely story. We meet an elderly Southern lady in the 1950s on a bus trip back “home” to ponder her life… from childhood through her “golden years,” against the wishes of her overly-protective son and daughter-in-law. Noted veteran actress Gwen Van Dam should be compelling in this meaningful role.

Women of Spoon River – Opening January 28 at Theatre West in L.A. (near Studio City)

A long-anticipated, one-woman performance by the highly respected and inspiringly gifted Lee Meriwether… this should be totally captivating! Based on the 1915 book “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Masters, Lee creates 26 characters here, focusing entirely on the female inhabitants of the small Illinois town of which Masters wrote. (Adaptation written by Meriwether and Jim Hesselman.) Sounds spellbinding…

Firehouse – Opening February 4 at The Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks

A world premiere staging, written by Pedro Antonio Garcia, this is a thought-provoking drama. Based on a true incident that took place in a South Bronx firehouse… when a rookie fireman faced with a daunting rescue choice…”honor of loyalty”…saves the life of a fellow fireman… a heated court case ensues. Boasting a fine cast of highly credited actors… this one sounds pretty intriguing.

As you can see… I’m going to be pretty busy for the next few weeks. Read my “humble opinions” and book seats for the ones that interest you. It is a new year… catch some of our local theatre offerings! Help keep theatre thriving in Los Angeles… while broadening your own horizons!


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