The horror genre gets delightfully skewered in director-choreographer James J. Mellon's Scary Musical The Musical, an electrifying production that gleefully flips every slasher film trope on its head (now running through November 9 at the NoHo Arts Center).
The scene: Vera Miles High School. The story: someone's slicing and dicing the members of the school's drama club before their opening night extravaganza. Meanwhile, a patient has escaped from a nearby mental institution (naturally). Horror enthusiasts may recognize a similarity in this past summer's indie satire Stage Fright, but unlike that letdown of a slasher, this briskly paced musical (at a lean, intermission-free 90 minutes) delivers all the goods on top of a kickass pop-rock soundtrack, thanks to music and lyrics by Richard Hochberg and Michael Paternostro.
With characters named Leeza Courtney Fox, Norman Hates, Freddy Louissier, Jason Cravin, Jamie Lee Leigh, and Carrie Beige, horror fanatics will get a kick out of all of the nods to the genre classics and jump at some of the impressive special effects that jolt the audience throughout the show.
Playing Norman Hates is a sufficiently creepy August Emerson, who could very well be an Edward Gorey-drawn character come to life. With a mop of jet-black hair and a ghostly pale complexion, Emerson delivers lines with a psychotic energy (the dude also has a killer voice - check out his showstopping solo, "Mother"). And then there's Colorado native Keir Kirkegaard, whose rippling abs nearly steal a couple of scenes. But what really stands out is Kirkegaard's uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to superstar Justin Timberlake (I wouldn't be surprised if the actor moonlights as an impersonator).
Several of the cleverly written songs deserve a bigger stage, but under some tight and smart direction, they soar inside the 99-seat venue. The opening number, "Killer in the House," perfectly sets up the deliciously devious tone while "High School Can Be Murder" is an anthem that not only wittily introduces our heroes and heroines, it shines as a theme song of Joss Whedon-esque proportions -- it's like a lost track from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling" songbook. And finally, "Baby Let Me Come Inside" is the on-the-nail, pun-tastic performance it sounds like, admirably carried out by Kirkegaard and actress-dancer Jane Papageorge.
The only tune that comes close to steering the musical terror train off the track is "Out of Africa," a number that's a bit heavy on exposition and light on focusing on the themes at hand. But no matter: by the time the blood hits the fan in the third act's zany climax, you'll be glad you hopped aboard this superfun crazy train.
And just who is the killer? Thanks to an interactive component -- the audience gets to live-tweet and vote for their suspect -- there isn't one definitive answer. (Shades of 1985's Clue, anyone?)
Say what you will about the work of visionary writer/director Baz Luhrmann – and many have throughout the course of his 20+ years as a filmmaker – but one thing is certain: the guy believes in the all-conquering power of love. So much so, in fact, that all of his films - from 1992’s deliciously zany Strictly Ballroom to last year’s lush and underrated The Great Gatsby - exist solely to extoll this greatest of virtues. Well, that, and to inject a little razzle dazzle into our often humdrum existence.
Thus it’s no surprise that the For The Record troupe – whose carnival burlesque celebrations inspired by the catalogues of modern-era auteurs like Luhrmann, Tarantino, and PT Anderson have been lighting up West Hollywood all year – chose to tackle the Aussie's breathtaking oeuvre...or that the show is a fizzy, frothy burst of true cinematic romance.
And talk about powerhouse performances. Though Rumor Willis is easily the cast’s most well-known star, each actor - Demi’s and Bruce’s daughter included - shines individually and collectively as they cover the broad plot strokes and unforgettable pop songs, including hits off of the soundtracks from all of Luhrmann’s films: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and The Great Gatsby. 2008’s Australia isn’t represented but still has a cocktail at the bar named after it.
Taking over West Hollywood’s DBA (7969 Santa Monica Blvd), cast members fly through the audience, jumping on tables, dancing on the large bar, and basically using every part of their theater-in-the-round to create a party that Mr. Luhrmann would no doubt approve of. Highlights include a jazzy rendition of The Cardigan’s "Lovefool" sung by cast member Lindsey Gort, a powerhouse redo of Lana Del Rey’s swooning "Young and Beautiful" courtesy of Ruby Lewis, and pretty much everything involving Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann’s hands-down funniest, most innocently DIY effort.
Buzzed on artisan cocktails with names like “Talk Show Host” and “Buchanan’s Old Fashioned”, and dining on gourmet pizzas from Churchill executive chef Michael Bryant (get there early if you’re hungry, because these go fast), you’ll find yourself lost amidst the unfettered imagination of Baz Luhrmann.
As well as stoned on magic, seduced by love, and above all else, wanting to run home and watch Moulin Rouge! for the millionth time.
For The Record, the cabaret-like troupe that's been entertaining L.A. audiences for quite some time now, has changed venues (to the spacier DBA in West Hollywood), but the wow factor of the performances remains the same.
From the high-octane diner stick-up in Pulp Fiction to the pulse-raising lap dance in Death Proof and the blood-splattered crime council speech in Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino has taken audiences on an unforgettable ride...and now the creative minds behind @FTRLive are doing the same.
Tarantino, Moore, and Willis enjoy the show back in March.
Mashing up the director's hits in one musical smorgasbord of babes, bullets, and badasses, For The Record: Tarantino opened earlier this spring (we sat near Demi Moore, who was cheering on daughter Rumer Willis on stage), and it continues to enjoy an extended run due its powerhouse performances from a cast of hot, young professional singers who don't need a televised talent competition to thrive in the spotlight (yep, that's Lindsay Pearce in that first pic...from Oxygen's The Glee Project).
Ever wonder how Django Unchained's showdown would look like staged with a showstopping 70s jam? Ever thought that Inglorious Basterds could've used a little more rock? Even if you never saw those films (someone call Netflix, STAT), you'll still get a kick out this rollicking and immersive production that fills the entire venue with an electric charge.
You can catch a show during any one of four nights a week now through the rest of the summer. Do yourself a favor and grab some tickets here.
Thursday night saw the unveiling of the Top 12 on NBC's The Voice, and after the live broadcast, we were lucky enough to join the contestants and celeb judges (Xtina! Adam! CeeLo! Blake!) at a private party at Boulevard3 on Sunset.
Before the talented bunch of competitive singers took to the stage, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, and a tipsy Blake Shelton (he admitted it before strumming his guitar) performed some rockin' renditions of "I Love Rock and Roll" and "Crazy."
Christina, wearing a gray T-shirt that read "Cray" looked cute in a petite jacket (the girl looks goooood -- like 2001 good). Which begs the questions: What regimen is she on?
Unfortunately, Voice host Carson Daly was nowhere to be seen, but Valentine, everyone's favorite DJ from 104.3 myFM, emceed the festivities. Our favorite of the night though? Tessanne Chin (below, right), who blew us away (or maybe it was the three mojitos we were nursing at the open bar right below the stage).
Two beachside cocktails, one champagne brunch, and several more cocktails later, it was time to check out Rihanna along with 18,000 other fans for a Saturday night we'll never forget (it was her first trip to the DR...and our favorite moment? Her medley of dance hits and, of course, an encore that included "Stay" and "Diamonds").
The first week of October is such a wonderful time of year here in Los Angeles: There's the midnight screening of Clue at the Nuart, there are flea markets to raid for Halloween costumes, and then... there's Best in Drag!
Best in Drag Show, the spectacular annual fundraiser for Aid for AIDS at the Orpheum in downtown L.A. on October 6, has announced that Emmy Award winner Holland Taylor (Two and A Half Men), Golden Globe nominee Mireille Enos (The Killing), Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Bellamy Young (Scandal), and Kathy Kinney (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) will be part of the celebrity judging panel for the show’s 11th anniversary. Also joining: Melanie Griffith and Glee's Dot Marie Jones!
Event co-founder Patrick Rush will be hosting the show once again, and Jeffrey Drew, long-time star throughout the history of the show, will direct, choreograph and helm this year's festivities.
“Behind the sparkles, spangles, and spandex is a great cause – providing housing and food for those who are devastated with HIV/AIDS and poverty,” says Terry Goddard II, Executive Director of Alliance for Housing and Healing. Aid for AIDS is a vital program of Alliance for Housing and Healing.
The 2013 contestants include Sash Carl (Miss California: Beverly Center), D'Nez Westmoreland (Miss Michigan: Electra Caprice Riviera), Stephen Molinaro (Miss New Jersey: Vava Fanculo), Mike Cativo (Miss Puerto Rico: Mimi E), Dajuan Powns (Miss Washington DC: Ciera Lyon), and Aron Ross (Miss Wisconsin: Misty O'Portunity).
By now, if you haven't paid a visit to Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz, chances are you have missed out on one of the best forms of live entertainment here in Los Angeles.
For The Record, the troupe that has put on musical mash-up tributes to various directors and genres (John Hughes, Robert Zemekis, Quentin Tarantino, to name a few), has revived and updated their showcase celebrating the oeuvre of Baz Luhrmann, the man behind such tune-driven productions as Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, and of course, the recent incarnation of The Great Gatsby.
Photo: Ben Caron
What makes this go-round one of their best to date -- from masterminds Shane Scheel and Christopher Lloyd Bratten -- is the source material from which these talented musicians and artists perform. The movies recreated here have a built-in musicality that practically begs for a flashy stage adaptation. Standouts include vocal powerhouses Payson Lewis as Romeo (his Duke from Moulin Rouge is also something to behold), Steve Mazurek as lovelorn Christian, and Charissa Hogeland as Gatsby's Daisy (her renditon of Florence and the Machine's "Over The Love" is chillingly good).
The show itself, directed by singer-actor Anderson Davis and choreographed by Derek Ferguson, is a non-stop exercise in joyful theatrics. The venue was built for an immersive, 360-degree experience like this, and the actors brilliantly take advantage of every available inch in the place.
Also joining the cast is newcomer Rumer Willis (you may have heard of her), filling in the role of Juliet in between scenes -- and guess what? -- the girl's got a pretty darn good set of pipes, lending some smokey vocals to a jazz rendition of "Crazy in Love" and "Kissing You." And during last week's opening night festivities, we spotted her proud mama, Demi Moore, sitting in the crowd, cheering on her castmates.
Get your tickets. Now.
For The Record: Baz Luhrmann runs now through October 15.
Comic-book maestro Stan Lee is throwing a bash benefiting America's real-life superheroes, the men and women on the U.S. Military.
On Saturday June 22, the roof of the Santa Maria Elks Unocal Event Center will be blown off when Daughtry performs at the one-night-only event celebrating the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Legendary creator Lee was inspired in the midst
of the hustle and bustle of last year's San Diego Comic Con when he took the opportunity to speak with two young
servicemen who had lost their legs on the battlefield. Deeply moved, Stan created his POW!er
Concert series to honor and pay tribute to the real superheroes of the military and provide a setting to celebrate
and entertain them in the company of friends, family, and neighbors.
You too can take part in the community
spirit by joining Stan and musical superstar Chris Daughtry as
they show their gratitude to the members of the military in this special benefit
Not only can
you show your support by attending, but for the special price of $25, you can
sponsor an active duty soldier to attend the Daughtry concert next weekend. For more details, or to purchase your
tickets, go to www.stanleespowerconcerts.com.
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