LA STAGE INSIDER

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Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities and its leader James A. Blackman III have done an about-face. The group’s Thoroughly Modern Millie won’t open next week after all. It would have been the company’s first full-scale production of a musical since it was evicted from its longtime home in Redondo Beach. Although last week the group’s website was promoting a Nov 21 opening of the musical at Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro (as INSIDER reported), the news of the opening has been replaced on the website by a YouTube video in which Blackman — in extreme close-up with a black background — reports the show’s postponement. According to LA City Cultural Affairs rep Lee Sweet, who manages the Warner Grand, Blackman informed him on Wednesday Nov 7 that CLOSBC was unable to secure the funding to open the show. Six days later, Blackman posted the 6:57 minute YouTube video on CLOSBC’s Facebook page as well as the website, declaring the postponement of Millie and announcing the planned formation of a separate not-for-profit entity, the Phoenix Foundation, “whose mission is to resurrect and put the Civic Light Opera back together.” Blackman claims that the goal is for Phoenix to take charge of all financial operations; Blackman and his staff would be its employees. In the meantime, Blackman has reached out to Long Beach-based Musical Theatre West to possibly honor already-committed CLOSBC ticket holders, but no decision has been made. Citing the “sucky” economy and the depth of his current woes, Blackman concludes the video with a declaration that his dog has cancer and his mother is in the hospital”¦Speaking of Musical Theatre West, executive director/producer Paul Garman confirmed that 2012 Ovation winning musical theater star Davis Gaines — currently gnawing on fellow cast members as Hannibal Lecter in the Hayworth Theatre staging of Silence! The Musical — has been tabbed to helm MTW’s revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway tuner, Oklahoma, beginning previews on Feb 15, 2013″¦

HOLLYWOOD FRINGE 2013″¦ Next year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival — it calls itself “now one of the largest uncensored performing arts festivals in the country” will last a week longer than last year’s. The 2013 dates are June 13-30, following a week of previews, June 6-11.  The first of a series of town halls and workshops to assist venues, participants and community members will be held on January 17 at 7 pm at Theatre Asylum. Registration for the Hollywood Fringe opens February 1 and closes on April 1. The event is open and non-curated; any artistic group able to book a venue within the festival’s boundaries may register.

Marsha Norman

THE SEASON OF CHANCE”¦ Anaheim-based Chance Theater is unveiling its 15th anniversary seven-show 2013 season, beginning with the West Coast premiere of Triassic Parq ““ The Musical, 2010 FringeNYC Best Musical winner, wrought by Marshall Pailet (music and book), Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo (book), opening Jan 25. Helmed by Pailet, the tuner tells the story of Jurassic Park “told from the perspective of the dinosaurs.” Moises Kaufman and Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project ““ Ten Years Later follows, performed in rep, opening Apr 19. The season continues with two Orange County debuts:  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson — book by Alex Timbers, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman — a “grunge” musical about the founding of the Democratic Party, which premiered at CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Jan 2008, opening July 5 at Chance; and Donald Margulies’ play about a wounded photojournalist’s return to the home front, Time Stands Still, which premiered at the Geffen in 2009, opening at the Chance Sep 27. The season closes with a two-show holiday series:  The Secret Garden ““ The Musical by Lucy Simon (music) and Marsha Norman (book and lyrics), opening Nov 15; and the 10th annual rendering of The Eight Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode, opening Nov 26″¦

David Melville

BAH! HUMBUG!… A Noise Within in Pasadena is offering Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, newly adapted by ANW co-artistic director Geoff Elliott, with original music by Ego Plum, co-helmed by Elliott and Mrs. co-artistic director, Julia Rodriguez-Eliott, featuring a 20-member ensemble, with Dámaso J. Rodriguez, the 7-year-old son of Dámaso Rodriguez (occasional ANW director of Furious Theatre fame), playing Tiny Tim, opening Dec 8″¦Long Beach Playhouse is offering its representation of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, helmed by Gregory Cohen, also opening on Dec 8″¦Of course, Costa Mesa-based South Coast Repertory is staging its 33d annual production, adapted by Jerry Patch, helmd by John-David Keller, opening Dec 10″¦Going solo with Dickens’ classic tale of Christmas redemption is Atwater-based Independent Shakespeare Company managing director David Melville — with musical interjections from company member Mary Guilliams, opening Dec 3″¦ And at CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, Ron West has replaced Joe Flaherty as Ebenezer Scrooge in the previously announced A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!, scripted by Second City alums Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, helmed by Marc Warzecha, opening Nov 29….Also taking an irreverent swipe at the holidays, In Heat In Hollywood Ho Ho Ho, scripted and performed by David Trudell, will make its debut at Skylight Theatre Complex in Hollywood, helmed by Michael Kearns, opening Dec 8″¦On the tuneful side, singer/guitarist/thesp Jane Fuller is featured in Cinderella’s Christmas, scripted and helmed by June Chandler with music by Fuller, opening Nov 24 at Sierra Madre Playhouse. Fuller takes the stage alone on Dec 9 with Jane Fuller Arctic Express, “a wild, wacky, warm-hearted journey directly to Santa’s house.””¦

Janis Paige

AROUND TOWN”¦ Broadway diva/film star Janis Paige, who turned 90 on Sep 16, is bringing her one-woman cabaret show to Vitello’s in Studio City, tomorrow night, Nov 16″¦On a more dramatic note, Open Fist Theatre in Hollywood has revived Eugene O’Neill’s somber two-hander, Hughie, chronicling the late night ramblings of an alcoholic penny-ante gambler and the reclusive hotel night clerk who has to abide him, helmed by artistic director Martha Demson, starring Andrew Schlessinger and Joe Hulser, running through Dec 13″¦Up in Ventura, Rubicon Theatre is presenting a Dec 2 one-night-only benefit performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore, scripted by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, focusing on issues of women’s lives, viewed through the prism of clothing. Raising seed money for the Micheline Sakharoff Fund for Women Artists, the production features Tyne Daly, Amy Pietz and Amanda McBroom, helmed by Jenny Sullivan“¦Venerable Theatre West is presenting Millennium Magic XIII, its annual showcase of “magic and illusion,” hosted by thesp Jeanine Anderson, former official hostess of Magic Castle in Hollywood, one weekend only, Nov 30-Dec 2″¦

The ensemble of '8 Ways to Say I Love My Life"

THE THING IS”¦ “We originally performed this work in 2009 and won an Imagen award.  We decided to perform it again to celebrate the publication of the book. We opened on Nov 3 and this is our final weekend.  This is a collection of monologues written by eight Latina women, based on their lives.  They include Josefina Lopez, Susan Orosco, Nancy De Los Santos Reza, Margo De Leon Guerra, Laura De Anda, Joanna Ilizaliturri, Rita Mosqueda Marmolejo and myself.  We are not performing these pieces.  Our acting ensemble includes Ivonne Coll, Kikey Castillo, Yvonne DeLaRosa and Karina Noelle. The stories cover so much about what is to not only be a Latin woman but to be a female. It is about experiences — personal growth, loss, love, despair, self-esteem, mother issues, daughter issues — all the aspects of being a female human being. Susan Orosco came up with the idea of the monologues.  It was Josefina Lopez who suggested we turn it into a stage production ““ Bel Hernandez, editor/publisher of Latin Heat Entertainment, is one of eight contributors to 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life, performing at Josefina Lopez’s Casa 0101 in East LA, through Nov 18″¦

Paula Holt

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY”¦ In November 1966, film producer/exhibitor Harold Goldman converts Mary Webb Davis Modeling School into the 400-seat Tiffany, located at 8532 Sunset Blvd on the Sunset Strip, sandwiched between the Playboy Club and Dino’s Lodge restaurant and nightclub.  Goldman intends for the facility to be a high-end movie house, but in March 1968, he leases the Tiffany to San Francisco-based improv/satire ensemble, The Committee, under the leadership of Allan Myerson.  The ensemble features thesps Peter Bonerz, Mel Stewart, Jessica Myerson, Richard Stahl, Kathryn Ish, Garry Goodrow, Howard Hesseman, Carl Gottlieb, Chris Ross and LA add-on, Rob Reiner.  Though periodically rotating cast members between the San Francisco and LA companies, the Committee begins to lose members to film and television and closes its Tiffany operation in 1970.  Stage productions of Sensual Musical Fantasy (based on As You Like It) and a controversial stage show titled Man and Wife follow; but in 1971, Tiffany reverts back to showing movies.  Beginning in June 1977, Tiffany’s midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show develop a cult following.  But by 1983, the Tiffany shuts down. The property is purchased by Dennis and Paula Holt, who battle Actors’ Equity for the right to create two 99-seat theater spaces in a building that had formerly housed the larger space, where Equity contracts had been used. The Holts win in court, and the Tiffany spaces open in 1985, originally as rental facilities. After the Holts divorce in 1987,  Paula Holt continues to operate this much sought-after stage complex. During 15 years of operation, Tiffany hosts over 100 stageworks, 20 of which are produced by Holt. Noteworthy productions include Laughing Wild (1990), starring its playwright, Christopher Durang, and Jean Smart; Woman in Mind (1992), starring Helen Mirren; Marvin’s Room (1994), starring Mary Steenburgen and Smart; David Mamet‘s Oleanna (1994), directed by William H. Macy and starring Kyra Sedgwick; and The Bermuda Avenue Triangle (1995), starring Bea Arthur. In 2002, Tiffany closes after Dennis Holt sells the property to real estate developers who plan to convert the whole block west of La Cienega into the mixed use Sunset Millennium Project. Plans for Paula Holt to continue to operate a theater within the project do not materialize. Beginning July 4, 2004, Actors Studio West is allowed to temporarily utilize the facility, beginning with a staged reading of The Sunshine Boys, featuring Mark Rydell and Martin Landau, but then the space ceases all public performances”¦

— Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review, celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in the Southern California area, airs Fridays, 2 to 2:30 pm on KPFK 90.7FM.

Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.