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.

Homeless Angels, Kinky Boots, LA Opera and Dance News

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Xavi Moreno
Xavi Moreno

COMPANY OF ANGELS SEEKING NEW HOME...When prolific downtown LA developer Izek Shomof closed escrow last September on his purchase of the historic 107-year-old Alexandria Hotel, located on the southwest corner of 5th and Spring Streets, he said he planned to keep the integrity of this former luxury lodging. In a Sep 23 interview in DT News, he declared, “That’s why we bought it — because we want to preserve it. We’re not changing what makes it historic.” Yet his plans do not include continuing the seven-year residency of the 55-year-old Company of Angels. “Back in September, we were told we had 30 days to vacate,” recalls CofA producing director Xavi Moreno. “Our lawyers got that extended to January 1.”  CofA is still residing in its third-floor space at the Alexandria and has yet to receive an official eviction notice. “We don’t know where we stand,” Moreno admits. The company is in touch with city officials about finding a new space, and “we met with Jose Luis Valenzuela [artistic director of LA Theatre Center, which is across the street from the Alexandria] and the LATC staff on a proposal to be at LATC for eight months — to hold meetings for our playwrights group, meetings for company members, as well as holding readings and to work on plans to celebrate our 55th anniversary. We are hoping to reach out to former members such as Leonard Nimoy and Richard Chamberlain.” In the meantime, CofA continues its work with community organizations, such as the Women’s Center in downtown LA. Moreno adds, “Our upcoming productions will be held either at LATC or these community organizations. Right now we are aiming at doing our 10-minute play festival in the spring. We’ll see.”

Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper

PANTAGES 2014-15…Kinky Boots is coming to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The  LA premiere of the 2013 Tony winner for best musical, wrought by Harvey Fierstein (book) and Cyndi Lauper (score), helmed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, will open Nov 11. But the 2014-15 lineup at the Pantages will begin earlier, with the 2005 Tony-winning jukebox tuner Jersey Boys, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, helmed by Des McAnuff, opening Oct 1. Next up is the 2013 Tony-winning best musical revival, Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin, as helmed by Diane Paulus, opening Oct 21.  Wicked will return on Dec 10, followed by the LA premiere of Newsies, created by Alan Menken (music), Jack Feldman (lyrics) and Harvey Fierstein (book), helmed by Jeff Calhoun, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, opening Mar 24, 2015, The last two slots in the season will be occupied by the LA premiere of Motown The Musical,  with book by Berry Gordy, helmed by Charles Randolph-Wright, opening Apr 28, 2015; and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Laurence Connor, opening June 10, 2015.

Angela Gheorghiu/Placido Domingo – La Traviata – Brindisi – Prague 1994

LA OPERA 2014-15…LA Opera has organized its 2014-15 season, created by general director Plácido Domingo, in collaboration with music director James Conlon and president and CEO Christopher Koelsch. The upcoming season features six mainstage productions, mostly staged at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Additional performances will take place in other venues through an expansion of the Company’s Off Grand initiative. The season opens with a revival of LA Opera’s 2006 roaring-’20s production of Giuseppe Verdi‘s La Traviata (Sep 13–28), conducted by Conlon, directed by Marta Domingo, featuring Domingo as Giorgio Germont. Director Barrie Kosky helms a theatrical pairing of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (Oct 25 – Nov 15), conducted by Steven Sloane. Florencia en el Amazonas by the late Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán (Il Postino), follows, guided by resident conductor Grant Gershon  (Nov 22-Dec 20). The 2015 portion of the season will be devoted to the “the Figaro trilogy” of operas based on the comedic works of French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais: John Corigliano‘s “grand opera buffa,” The Ghosts of Versailles (Feb 7– Mar 1, 2015); Rossini’s popular The Barber of Seville (Feb 28-Mar 22, 2015); and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Mar 21-Apr 2, 2015). Off-site productions include: Benjamin Britten’s Noah’s Flood, performed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Mar 2015; a mashup of opera and the 1961 movie Hercules vs. Vampires, featuring a score by composer Patrick Morganelli and performers from Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in April 2015; and the West Coast debut of Dog Days by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, based on a Judy Budnitz short story about a dystopian future in middle America and presented in partnership with REDCAT, performed in June 2015…

Benjamin Millepied
Benjamin Millepied

LA DANCE PROJECT MOVES INTO THE ACE…When opulently ornate United Artists Theatre opened in downtown LA on Dec 26, 1927, premiering the silent film, My Best Girl, starring UA co-founder Mary Pickford and future husband Buddy Rogers, it was a dedicated movie palace that eventually followed the same time-ravaging fate as the other stately downtown theaters. Located at 929 S. Broadway, the edifice has been revitalized into the 13-story residential Ace Hotel, which opened Jan 6. The building’s 1600-seat auditorium has morphed into The Theatre at Ace, now serving as the home of LA Dance Project, created in 2012 by choreographer by Benjamin Millepied. The company makes its Ace debut on Feb 22 with the US premiere of Reflections, choreographed by Millepied. A fall program is being planned (TBA).  LA Dance will utilize LA Theatre Center, at 5th and Spring Streets, for office space. Former New York City Ballet member James Fayette has been tabbed to be company manager…

FIRST RESPONDER TALESAbout…Productions (AP), in association with Inner-City Arts, is presenting First Responder Tales #1 — the first event in a four-part symposia series for Los Angeles theater practitioners.  AP producing artistic director Theresa Chavez defines First Responders as “trend setters who often blur lines between art, education, and activism. Entrenched in their self-defined communities, they create work and programs that respond to the immediate issues, concerns and interests of these communities. Most importantly, they have chosen to work at the scale that allows them to have this direct engagement.” Featuring an opening presentation by John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department, followed by discussions in large and small groups, this first event is scheduled for next Wednesday, Jan 22 at Inner-City Arts in downtown LA…

Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok

PREMIERES…Pico Playhouse in West LA is hosting the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s LA premiere of The Whipping Man — about an end-of-the-Civil-War reuniting of a wounded Jewish Confederate officer with two of his former slaves — scripted by Matthew Lopez, helmed by Howard Teichman, opening Feb 8…Wendy Graf’s Closely Related Keys — focusing on an upwardly mobile African-American attorney who discovers she has an Iraqi half-sister, staged by Shirley Jo Finney — premieres Feb 22 at the Lounge in Hollywood…Fountain Theatre is presenting the LA premiere of My Name is Asher Lev — the story of a young Jewish painter’s struggle to become an artist, against the will of his parents and the traditions of his community, based on the novel by Chaim Potok, adapted for the stage by Aaron Posner, helmed by Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs, opening Feb 22…

Kate Steele
Kate Steele

AROUND TOWN.. Following its European tour and US debut at 54 Below in New York, Siddhartha, the Musicalinspired by the novel by Herman Hesse, scripted and helmed by Isabella “Isabeau” Biffi, with music by Isabeau and Fabio Codega — is having two concert performances at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz Restaurant in Bel Air, Jan 27 and 28. Performances are in Italian with English narration.  Producers are Gloria Grace Alanis, Fabrizio Carbon and Broadway vets Marc Routh and Simone Genatt Haft (Broadway International Entertainment)James MarstersKate Steele and John Vickery head the cast when LA Theatre Works (LATW) presents Oscar Wilde’s controversial 1891 biblical drama, Salomé, recorded before a live audience for future radio broadcast, helmed by Michael Hackett, opening Jan 20 at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater…Scripted in 2000, Adam Rapp’s one-person Nocturne — about a former piano prodigy who accidentally killed his sister — opens Feb 8 at the Other Space @ the Actors Company in West Hollywood, starring George Regout, helmed by Justin Ross…And the Visceral Company is encoring Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite, “six strange tales of monsters, mayhem, and cosmic horrors” conceived and helmed by Dan Spurgeon, adapted from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, opening Jan 31 at Lex Theatre in Hollywood…

Julio Martinez-produced and hosted Arts in Review (AIR) celebrates the best in LA-area theater and cabaret on KPFK Radio (90.7FM), airing Friday, January 17 (2 to 2:30 pm), spotlighting actor/director Gigi Bermingham.