Dec 112016
 
"Little Drummer Bowie" Non-Traditional Christmas Story by Troubies

The Troubadour Theater Company’s Production Of “Little Drummer Bowie” At The Falcon Theatre: Katie Kitani, Katie DeShan, Rick Batalla, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Niles Rivers, Cloie Wyatt Taylor. Photo by Sasha A. Venola

The setting is Jerusalem / Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. The energy is Rock-N-Roll. The pungent spice is our current political situation. The bonus? An unexpectedly intimate experience. The Troubadour Theater Company’s “Little Drummer Bowie” at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank will chase your winter blues away!

The Troubadour Theater Company is known – and recognized – for reinventing classics to the tune of contemporary music and timely satire.

In “Little Drummer Bowie” the story of the Holy Family intertwines with a story of an abandoned drummer boy, who rises to fame as Ziggy Stardust and becomes corrupted by fame. (He subsequently falls from grace which gives him the opportunity to ponder existential questions and learn the true meaning of life.) The show incorporates references to current events (including one to the memorable statement delivered by a “Hamilton” cast member, Brandon Victor Dixon, to Vice President Elect Mike Pence) and past events (like the famous 1977 Bing Crosby and David Bowie Christmas duet).

The storyline of “Little Drummer Bowie” is secondary (Someone is born and someone else is reborn); it is merely the string that holds together many individual jewels of musical performances. There is singing, dancing, humor and surprises throughout the show. An example of a surprise? The Three Wise Men, in Troubies’ interpretation of events, are: Don King, Larry King and Billie Jean King….

Matt Walker, the artistic director of The Troubadour Theater Company co-directed the play with Joseph Leo Bwarie.

The star of “Little Drummer Bowie” is Joseph Leo Bwarie who takes on the challenge of becoming red-haired, glam rocker Ziggy Stardust and performing David Bowie’s greatest hits (including “Under Pressure”, “Let’s Dance”, “Drummer Boy”, “Changes”, “Fame”, and more) and succeeds. (His rendition of “Ground Control To Captain Tom” is particularly stirring.) No wonder, considering that Bwarie is a seasoned veteran of musical theatre. He’s been Frankie Valli in the Tony Award® winning musical Jersey Boys in the National Tour, Las Vegas productions and on Broadway over 2,000 times. Incidentally, he isn’t any worse for wear!

The cast is excellent, each actor is multi-faceted and all performances are fittingly enthusiastic. Lisa Valenzuela (Ovation Award Winner) and Cloie Wyatt Taylor (an inspired dancer) stand out for their performances. Beth Kennedy (Ovation Award Winner) has a star quality. For me personally, Rick Batalla (Ovation Award Winner) – in his many incarnations during the play – is the life of the show!

The band is conducted by the accomplished Eric Heinly (drums) and features Kevin McCourt (keyboards), BJ Johnson (bass), Mike Abraham (guitar), Kirsten Edkins and Ashley Jarmack (reeds). The music – of utmost importance in this case – is in no way inferior to a rock concert thanks to a great team performance. Eric Heinly’s drum mastery is outstanding. Special applause is due to an extra-ordinary saxophonist whose name – shame on me! – escapes me. (Please accept my apology: I’ll welcome your help in correcting this unpleasant omission.)

Reviews usually don’t mention stage lighting. In this case I have to make an exception. An occasional spotlight on the audience was a stroke of genius reminding us that the magic of any live show happens only when the show resonates with the audience. “Little Drummer Bowie” does. The credit for creative lighting goes to JM Montecalvo and Skylar Johnson. (And yes, Claudio Radosshia)

I’d be amiss, if I didn’t highlight two factors which undoubtedly influenced this review. The size and style of The Falcon Theatre lend themselves to a more intimate experience of a play. The feeling is sustained by the cast of Troubies that interacts with the audience. The result is a warm mood which brings the artists and the audience together in a celebration. There is no “glass wall” separating the two. There is no “us” and “them”. The experience is a shared one which makes it so much more. The artists and the audience immerse themselves in the joy of Christmas Season, share the musical legacy of Bowie, share a laugh and our spoken – and unspoken – collective thoughts.

You’ll smile, you’ll laugh out loud, you’ll rock to David Bowie’s hits, you’ll get taken aback by the self-deprecating humor of the cast. In spite of the fact that the show revolves around Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth, it doesn’t have the sentimentality of a Christmas story but the crispness of a parody and rock concert.

Granted, “Little Drummer Bowie” is a non-traditional Christmas story. Its great energy, singing, dancing and humor however will bring any Grinch into a festive mood.

The show is dedicated by the Troubadour Theater Company’s to the Falcon Theatre’s Founder, Garry Marshall who passed away, recently. Considering his commitment to nurturing theatrical innovation and his long history with Troubies, he’d surely welcome this tribute…

See “Little Drummer Bowie” at the Falcon Theatre – if you can still get tickets! – first class, lighthearted entertainment succeeds only when it is created and delivered by high caliber artists. The Troubies are.

…. And to All: Merry Christmas!

Review by the Editor of CulturalEventsInLosAngeles.com

Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside, Burbank, CA 91505.

Performances run through Jan. 15th
Wed.–Fri. at 8pm
Sat. at 4pm & 8pm
Sun. at 4pm & 7pm
plus select Tuesdays

Tickets, priced from $30-$45, are on sale Online at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 818-955-8101. Box Office hours are Tue.–Fri. 12-6pm, Sat.–Sun. 10am-4pm, and 1 hour prior to show time on performance days. For more information, visit www.falcontheatre.com

 

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Nov 282016
 

2016 Hollywood Christmas Parade

The 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade took place on Sunday November 27th on Hollywood Blvd. This year’s Grand Marshall was Olivia Newton-John, the movie star and singer whose successful career spans five decades.

The 2016 Hollywood Christmas Parade kicked off with a pre-parade concert at 5:00 pm. The concert featured 2016 Hollywood Christmas Parade’s Grand Marshall Olivia Newton-John as well as Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G, Eric Benet and others.

At 6:00 pm the parade begun with the usual Hollywood glamour. There were marching bands, huge character balloons, floats and decorated classic cars carrying Hollywood’s celebrities. Several former grand marshals including Larry King, Lou Gossett Jr., Robert Wagner and yes, Mickey Mouse were at hand and took part in the festive event.

Needless to say, L.A. is all about celebrities, there were stars and cast members of trendy TV shows including of “Black-ish,” and “Fresh Off the Boat” among many other stars greeted enthusiastically by the crowd. Of course, the greatest star of any Christmas Parade – the Hollywood Parade included – Santa Claus arrived as scheduled to announce the beginning of the 2016 Christmas Season.

Thousands of Angelenos and tourists braved cold weather to witness the largest Christmas Parade in the United States. Good time was had by all!

 

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Dec 112014
 

Jokes for the Jews At Flappers Comedy ClubFlappers Comedy Club and Restaurant is proud to present Jokes for the Jews, a comedy show for anyone who feels passed over on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $12.00.

The show features a Seder Plate full of comedians, some Jewish, some not Jewish, who will all be there for the same reason: heating. Flappers’ full-service restaurant and bar will be serving the finest assortment of “nosh” this side of Mt. Sinai. What better way to close off the festival of lights with a night of laughs feasting on delicious Chicken Marsala or a gourmet wood fired pizza?

Call 818-845-9721 or visit www.FlappersComedy.com to reserve tickets now! All guests are asked to please respect the two item minimum. Disclaimer: Flappers Comedy Club is not a kosher kitchen.

Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant is operated by a group of people who are passionate about comedy. Proprietors, Barbara Holliday and Dave Reinitz, manage Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, which features four stages and a full restaurant and bar with a 1920’s theme. Still Celebrating the Repeal of Prohibition, the club also has a smaller showroom, the YooHoo Room, with seating for 60, and a bar and patio where patrons can hang out and eat and drink before, during and after shows.

Where: DOWNTOWN BURBANK: 102 East Magnolia Street; Burbank CA 91502
Time: Wednesday, December 24th at 8:00 PM.
Ages: All ages welcome, 18+ preferred for the night shows.
Food & Drinks: Full-service bar and restaurant. 2 item min per person.
Show Schedule: Complete schedule online www.FlappersComedy.com
Show Tickets: $12
Online Pre-Purchase: www.FlappersComedy.com
Tickets and Info: 818-845-9721 | Promotions@FlappersComedy.com


Nov 222014
 

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES TO HOST FIRST ANNUAL CHRISTMASLAND FESTIVAL AND CONCERT SERIES

Galpin Ford Presents KOST 103.5’s ChristmasLand Featuring Classic Holiday Activities, Outdoor Entertainment, Ice Skating, and Three Live Concert Events December 7th-11th, 2014

With A Special Concert Performance by International Music Group and American Music Award Nominee Hillsong

Christmas Festival And Concerts In Downtown Los Angeles

KOST 103.5, L.A.’s home for holiday music, announced the launch of ChristmasLand, a Christmas Street Festival and concert series presented by Galpin Ford, the largest Ford dealer in the world, in partnership with AEG and WME. The pop-up theme park will take over world renowned entertainment center L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles, and feature a Santa experience, skating rink, snow park, human snow globe with photo opportunities, dining village, Ferris wheel, and live entertainment on the ChristmasLand Main Stage, as well as Dickens’ Carolers who will roam the festival with a brass quintet.

KOST 103.5 is traditionally one of the most listened to stations in the U.S. when they go to all-Christmas music. “Over the years, KOST 103.5 has become synonymous with the Christmas season by creating an incomparable excitement through the power of music,” said Dave Drever, ChristmasLand’s Managing Director and founder of Freely, a media company represented by WME set to launch in 2015. “Freely is thrilled to serve the city of Los Angeles with the Christmas spirit where people can celebrate with their families and friends, and are grateful for the support of Galpin Ford. As community leaders working in Southern California for 30+ years, their values align perfectly with this event.”

“Each and every year, KOST 103.5 helps you feel good for the holidays. There’s nothing quite like hearing your favorite Christmas songs and the memories they evoke. We are excited to help create new memories for our listeners and their families by helping to bring the holidays to life at this unique live event,” said Michael La Crosse, KOST 103.5 Program Director.

ChristmasLand will officially open on Sunday, December 7th at 3PM with an opening ceremony in the ChristmasLand Street Festival located on Chick Hearn Court between STAPLES Center and Nokia Plaza at L.A. Live. The ceremony will be followed by a live performance by Grammy nominated recording artist Frankie J, a multiplatinum selling recording artist and Southern California Native. The evening will close with a special tribute to Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American Latin Grammy nominated singer, who sold 15 gold, 15 platinum, and 5 double-platinum records internationally before her tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 43 in 2012. The week of ChristmasLand will mark the two year anniversary of the singer’s death. The Rivera family will honor Jenni with a special performance by a surprise guest.

ChristmasLand will also include a two night live concert series taking place at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE December 10th and 11th. Tickets for the ChristmasLand concert series at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE can be purchased at: http://www.axs.com/.

Hillsong will be the headline performer at ChristmasLand on Wednesday, December 10th. Hillsong Music consisting of Hillsong Worship, United and Young & Free have been influencing Christian music throughout the globe for the last few decades with songs that have shaped contemporary Christian Worship music such as ‘Shout To Lord, ‘Mighty To Save’, ‘The Stand’, ‘Hosanna’ and most recently with United’s ‘Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)’. ‘Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)’ has spent 43 weeks at number one on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart, and currently in the Billboard Hot 100. Next April, Warner Bros and Alcon Entertainment will release a full-length feature, ‘HILLSONG – LET HOPE RISE’, (www.hillsongmovie.com) in theaters worldwide. For this special L.A. concert, they will be led by Taya Smith, lead vocalist on ‘Oceans’ and Dove award winning singer-songwriter Reuben Morgan, the head of music at Hillsong London, the largest church in Europe.

Hillsong will also be joined by Kari Jobe, who won Artist of the Year at this year’s Dove Awards, and MSC, the Los Angeles based worship band of Mosaic, bringing a uniquely west coast sound to the world. Grammy Award winning Gospel singer, Tasha Cobbs will open the concert performing with the Faithful Central Choir, along with a special performance by singers Brian and Jenn Johnson.

Emmy nominated Irish music sensation, Celtic Woman will close out the five night event, with a special Home for Christmas concert on the stage of Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, performing their timeless Christmas songs accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. The all-female Irish ensemble, who has sold over 8 million records worldwide, will perform vibrant live renditions of such favorites as “Silent Night,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Joy to the World.”

Complete ChristmasLand Schedule (including Street Festival and Concert Series):

Sunday, December 7 – Festival open 3:00pm to 11:00pm, featuring special Opening Ceremony
8:30pm: Frankie J live performance on the festival main stage
9:15pm: Tribute to Jenni Rivera on the festival main stage. Jenni’s Love Foundation will give a scholarship in honor of her legacy, followed by a special performance. Artists will be announced in the coming week

  • Monday, December 8 – Street Festival open 3:00pm to 11:00pm
  • Tuesday, December 9 – Street Festival is closed for a private party
  • Wednesday, December 10 – Street Festival open 3:00pm to 11:00pm, with an evening concert headlined by Hillsong
    8:00pm: Hillsong with special guests Kari Jobe, Mosaic MSC, Brian and Jenn Johnson, and Tasha Cobbs at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE.
  • Thursday, December 11 – Street Festival open 3:00pm to 11:00pm, with an evening concert headlined by Celtic Woman
    8:00pm: Celtic Woman at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE

The ChristmasLand Street Festival main stage will be located at the corner of Figueroa and Chick Hearn Court, adjacent to the Staples Center box office. The AEG-sponsored ice-skating rink will be off Chick Hearn Court, in addition to the giant slide and Ferris wheel.

Additional special guests will be announced leading up to the event. The open-air ChristmasLand Street Festival is free and open to the public daily from 3:00pm to 7PM through Thursday, December 11th (excluding December 9th).

For more artist announcements and ChristmasLand Festival updates please visit: http://christmasland.com/