I saw two productions during the weekend… one, an excitingly sexy dance show… the other… still a work in progress.

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Ballroom with a Twist

Television’s Niecy Nash co-hosts on opening night with “Ballroom’s” director and choreographer Louis Van Amstel. They brought the audience to a standing ovation.

Wow! What a wonderful show! A fabulous night out on the town! This eye-popping and awe-inspiring marathon of music, songs and dazzling dancers, covering Broadway, ballroom and hip-hop styles… was a highly entertaining, sassy and sensual extravaganza! The incredibly ripped, toned and gorgeous “bodies” of this large cast… made us want to wrap ourselves in a gunny-sack and go into hiding forever (haha). Brilliantly conceived and choreographed by Dancing with the Stars’ Louis Van Amstel, and starring four of DWTS’ other dance pros… Alec Mazo, Edyta Sliwinska, Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya… the entire production was dazzling! Also featuring gifted dancers from So You Think You Can Dance? and other familiar dance shows and films, all of the performances were breathtaking! Rotating celebrities, Gilles Marini and Jane Seymour, will host the show (depending on the night). Opening night, our lively and quirky hosts were the loveable Louis Van Amstel and the hilarious Niecy Nash… who were partners on DWTS. So much fun! American Idol finalists Gina Glocksen (Season Six) and David Hernandez (Season Seven), musically link the mesmerizing dance routines with exciting and soulful live vocals. Both excellent and playful… they added greatly to the overall experience! The sinfully sexy costumes by Randall Designs were positively “Va Va Voom!” This is a “steaming hot” production folks, that spurred thunderous applause repeatedly. Though the talented cast is undeniably huge, I feel I must credit every dedicated artist. The rest of the cast includes: Sacha Andreev, Lilit Avagyan, C.J. Blair, Paul Barris, Irena Boubnovskaia, Veronika Chernyavska Anya Fuchs, Patricia Kaniowski, Alla Kocherga, Tessa Marie, Snejana Petrova, Jonathan Platero, Leonidus Proskurov, Tony Pututau, Leo Rotenberg and Randi Lynn Evans (a stand out!) Winners all! Gather a group of your most fun and passionate friends… and book seats today! You’ll love every steamy moment! Running Wednesdays through Sundays at the El Portal Theater – 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo (a perfect venue for this show). For seats, costs and show times, call (818) 508-4200.

Hot Tip: The opening night party was held at The Federal Bar, across the side street from the theatre. Opening to the public later this month, this expansive and great-looking place is sure to be a NoHo hot spot! Great food, lots of space, and a super friendly, efficient and attractive staff, are sure to bring new nightlife to the area. They’ll serve food and grog late into the night, offering an appealing “after theatre” option in our thriving theatrical district. Check them out!

Emily’s Song – A World-Premiere Musical Event

Tom Schmid and Darcy Rose Byrnes in “Emily’s Song.”

As the play begins, we meet a happy couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. Sadly, the mother dies during childbirth, leaving Charlie, the father, a jingle writer, to raise Emily with the help of Rosa, their loyal housekeeper (a touching performance by Elena Campbell-Martinez). Flash forward nine years to the play’s most endearingly effective moments… as we deeply feel the love and special bond shared by Charlie (a solid Tom Schmid) and Emily (a loveably precocious and talented Darcy Rose Byrnes, currently featured on Desperate Housewives). After writing a lovingly touching song for his beloved daughter, Charlie mysteriously disappears on a business trip. Flash forward again to adult Emily (Lindsey Haun.… a strong and soulful singer, currently featured on HBO’s True Blood) as a troubled, but gifted, young woman with “fear of loss” issues. A singer/songwriter, on the brink of major stardom, she thinks her father abandoned her those many years ago, and chooses one “loser” boyfriend after another. Charlie, robbed of his memory by a brutal, random mugging, then falls in love with his doctor (a spirited Cassidy Brown), and begins a new life. The play was written and directed by Chet Holmes, with the songs co-written with his daughter Amanda Holmes and Tom Shepard. This well-intended, potentially heart tugging… though not yet “ready” production, evoked mixed feelings from this reviewer, I’m sorry to say. Firstly, its two-and-a-half-hour length became tedious, and lessened the strength of its message. Secondly, most of the remaining characters, as written and performed, were too “stereotypical,” with the exception of John Bigham… whose stint as Jake was truly heartfelt. A lovely and moving concept, with deep meaning and a lot of heart… became bogged down and soap opera-ish. Trimming down the length and re-directing the smaller character roles would do much, I feel, in giving this story the focus and impact it deserves… Running through February 27th at the Hudson Backstage Theatre – 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood.?For seats call (323) 960-7788

Mark Your Calendar

REWIND, opening at The Victory Theatre on February 4th and 5th at 11pm. Presented by SkyPilot Theatre, this “late night romp” will offer ten mini one-acts, written and performed by their company members. Five on Friday, and a different five on Saturday. Wacky topics range from “gay marriage” to “how to survive a zombie attack.” At only $10 a seat, this is a great “after dinner out” option!

That’s it for this time… Two more plays to tell you all about next week.

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