Friday, June 28, 2019

Interview with Gina D'Acciaro

Funny lady Gina D'Acciaro is about to bring back Famous Adjacent to Rockwell Table and Stage July 17. She is such a revered performer, her shows return for encore performances. In our conversation she talks about this show and ehat suits her theatrical tastebuds.

How did you come up with a title like Famous Adjacent? Explain to our readers. Then...tell us about your show. 

Famous Adjacent is a hilarious and often poignant look at how my life is perpetually spent 6 inches from stardom but I just can’t seem to grab that brass ring for myself. It’s quite literally the story of my life, starting from when I moved to LA in 2001. Since that moment I’ve had a ton of “celebrity” experiences. Whether it be as a Talent Escort (where I am in charge of talent backstage riders and guiding performers to the stage), as a Theatre Producer, a Talent Coordinator for events, as a “Nanny to the Stars”, or as a Backup Singer.

What kind of music do you sing? Broadway fare and pop? I assume you are using songs to fit in with the stories of your life. Please forgive, but tell us specifically what musical shows you performed in and where. 

The songs in my one woman comedy cabaret Famous Adjacent are mostly musical theatre tunes that have had a major impact on my life thus far. There’s a tiny bit of pop as well but you know I have to give my regards to Broadway!

I am sure there is a lot of humor in your show. Can you give us an example without giving too much away? The last thing I want is a spoiler alert!!!    

I’d say the show is 95% a musical comedy standup act, with lots of improv. But 100% of the show is real, raw, honest, lively, spunky, quirky and there’s almost no way to not lay out a spoiler. But I can share that since my stage show is actually a soft concept pitch for a tv sitcom about my life (sort of HBO’s Crashing meets Glee), that a mysterious gospel choir appears throughout in very funny and usually highly inappropriate ways. They are my “greek chorus”, they represent the voices of doubt in my head and always show up at the WORST possible times. I mean, are they helping me or haunting me?!?

What is your happiest moment on stage? And...the worst moment...embarrassing that you would really like to forget.? 

At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s just being there. I have to be on stage. Making people laugh, making people feel relief from this crazy world… being on stage is when I am at my absolute happiest.  
I did have one moment where I wanted to run and hide. My worst moment on stage, one that I will never ever forget, is when the house lights accidentally came up during my 11 o’clock number and I had to sing directly into the face of someone that I knew was an internet troll that was not pleased with my performance. (The show he hated so much he just HAD to see it twice! Haha!) I’ve been really blessed with great reviews throughout my career. So this one negative comment, even though just some random guy in a chat room, really stung. Especially when I had to screlt into his eyes during a lighting mishap. Though I’ve been told that once you experience your first internet hater, you’ve officially “made it”. We’ll go with that theory ;-)

What is your favorite Broadway musical whether you have done it or not? Why this choice? Composer? Why this choice? 

It’s way too hard to nail down a favorite Broadway musical but I’ve got a huge list of composers I’d love to work with some day including Jason Robert Brown, Georgia Stitt, Jeff Thompson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and you should keep a look out for Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her musicals for youth are next-level lovely.

I love your director Robert Marra. He has directed a lot of musicals and cabaret. You are in good hands. What do you like about detail? 

Robert Marra is one of my dearest friends in the whole world. I’ve worked with him as a fellow actor, as the producer to his director, and also have been directed by him numerous times. What I love about Robert is his attention to detail, his raw emotional connections to each piece he spearheads, and his enthusiasm for creating art. Also, making Robert laugh a deep guttural, soul shaking, ouch-my-belly-hurts-laugh is one of my main goals in life. ALWAYS. He’s a brilliant director, his roots are so deeply planted in musical theatre and he’s the only person I would trust with my show. He knows me so well. He just gets me.

Is there a role that you are longing to play? Which one? Why? 

I absolutely MUST play Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. This 100% MUST happen someday. I love Sondheim, and I was nominated for an LA Ovation Award for Princess Puffer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Actors Co-op, the natural next step is Mrs Lovett. Who’s casting it soon?! You ready for me?!?

How do you like Hollywood Fringe? Anything exciting happen this year, for you? 

I love Hollywood Fringe. It’s easy to get stuck in a cynical haze about LA theatre but the Fringe is more like an underground theatre resurgence. It’s revitalizing and refreshing and I’m so lucky to be in a show that was just granted an “Encore Performance” because it is CRAZY funny.

Tell us about your on camera work on film and TV. 

One of my favorite tv/film set moments was while working on the movie "Angels and Demons". They built Vatican square to scale right here in Hollywood and it was epic. You can hear me singing in the film! I also just shot a movie in Kalamazoo, MI with fellow Italian actor, Nyle DiMarco. Coming soon!

Anything else you care to add that we did not mention? 

I’m in 3 shows at once right now! My own show Gina D’Acciaro is… Famous Adjacent at Rockwell Table & Stage, Supportive White Parents by Joy Regullano at the Broadwater 2nd Stage, and just started rehearsals for UMPO: A League of Their Own also at Rockwell! As if that all weren’t enough, my superstar hubby Jaq Galliano and I are recording duets that we release on iTunes (Jaq-n-Gina) and we’re also in the Singers of Soul Gospel Choir led by Dedrick Bonner and prepping to record our Christmas EP! So this girl needs lots of steam and vocal rest!


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2019 Barbara Minkus

Remarkable actress/singer Barbara Minkus has been delighting audiences for over 50 years on Broadway and on television. Her autobiographical play 18 Minutes of Fame has been a hit with both LA and New York audiences for a few years now and pro that she is, Minkus makes changes to it regularly. In our chat, she tells our audience how it got started, what she's done to improve it for the next remounting in July and how very much the show means to her.

I have seen this wonderful show 18 Minutes of Fame 3 times, and marvel at how you change things each time you mount it. It's about your life from the time you were a little girl. Have you made specific changes for this new production in July? If so, what is different?

I have made many changes since the shows you saw... For example, I deal more deeply and truthfully about my mother involving me in her affair from the time I was 11 to 18.. And ... I share the real story about Danny Kaye and how he treated me when he found out I was signed as a regular cast member on The Danny Kaye Show...He was not the nice person that he wanted people to think he was.

I relate more truthfully now with the story about my 1st Broadway lead in The Education Of Hyman Kaplan which opened the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. Of course the impact of such a beloved role model for all Americans was more important than a Broadway show but it was also an extremely pivotal point in my life.. it's as if it was yesterday...and I start to tear up...That little girl's dream was lost that night...and opening on Broadway in a musical was my dream since I've been little...The last preview felt like my dream was coming true; it was a peak moment for me when I heard the applause after my big song in the show "When Will I Learn"... In contrast opening night felt like the exact opposite when the audience returned from intermission. Everyone in the cast could tell something was wrong and 1/2 the audience had left.. "When Will I Learn" didn't get much of an is a moment in my life I wish I could forget...I chose to run away from NYC after Hyman Kaplan closed because my heart was broken .. I chose to run away from NYC and come to Los Angeles to escape the sadness and reality that sometimes what we want in life doesn't happen ...but it was more important for me to "pick yourself up...brush yourself off...and start all over again"...which is what I did...and eventually met and married the man of my dreams here...

You have a more recent troublesome experience, correct?

A current example of "picking myself up and starting all over again" is ...when I found out while I was doing the recent Pico Theatre 18 Minute's Of Fame shows that 3 days before my last show on June 9th, the Pico Theatre had to close down suddenly due to extensive termite damage...Hence, there was no last performance of my show on June 9th ...I was devastated...but I knew I could find another temporary theatre quickly and I did... within 4 days

I reached out to several local theatres, and was invited to come and do my show at The Braid in Santa Monica... I made sure everyone who was suppose to come to The Pico June 9th show was refunded quickly and fully for their tickets ....I contacted each person and invited them to come back and see the show at the Braid Theatre on July 13th and 21st...

The famous Therapist Carl Jung said "There are sinkers and swimmers ...The sinkers go down with disappointments and don't come back up ...the swimmers come right up"...That's what 18 Minutes Of Fame is all about ...coming up from sad and unexpected experiences and going on...
I live by the saying "when one door closes... another one opens."

Are the songs the same or have you added any new ones?

The songs are for the most part the same...I no longer sing.."That's Life" which comes out from the  Martin Luther King story...I talk sing it with the impact of the reality that at that moment in my life ...every thing changed for me...

You have a divine talent for being able to naturally segue from story to song and vice versa. What do you personally like best about doing this show?

I love telling my stories and feeling how the audience relates to them in their own lives...I love keeping the show open to new insights and ideas...

Do you have one favorite moment from the past that stands out above any others? 

I auditioned for The Playboy Club in Chicago when I was 18 and weighted over 200 lbs...I wanted to be as "glamorous as the bunnies" so I wore 3 inch heels thinking I'd look taller and thinner... I sang "Get Happy" for the audition ...(which is a song I started singing at 3 years old and which I open my show with now)...but then... when I stepped out onto the wooden dance floor in those 3 inch heels, I tripped and slid across the entire dance floor and couldn't get up ... so I sang "Get Happy" sitting on the floor ...The Playboy Club agents couldn't stop laughing thinking I did this as part of a "comedy opening bit" and I was immediately hired as a comedienne ...with no comedy act.

I went to NYC to have an act written by Phillip Dela Pena ( a cousin of one of my mother's friends) but I never did the Playboy Club Contract because Julius Monk heard me sing "Get Happy" in NYC around this time and I stayed to be one of the stars in his review "Bits and Pieces" at The Plaza Hotel.

Many years later when the Playboy Clubs weren't as popular, I did appear here at The Sunset Boulevard Playboy Club...I told my audition story at the show...and the audience roared...

The story about this show actually comes from the Fund Raiser you reviewed me at at St Mark's Church in Glendale over 4 or 5 years ago...I invited Arnold Margolin the producer of Love American Style...

We met for coffee a week later in NYC thinking he was going to compliment me about the show; but instead he said "Barbara there are many older female singers who sing as good as or better then you...but no one tells a story like you...and then sing's a song about that story...and that Barbara is what your show should be about" I am 4 years later doing "18 Minutes Of Fame" which I co wrote with Susan Morgenstern who also directed the show... and Arnold's advice keeps coming up for me with every performance of the show..

Have you done any cabaret appearances in NYC or here recently, apart from this show or is this your top priority?  

I am only concentrating on doing 18 Minutes Of Fame. Many years later when the Playboy Clubs weren't as popular, I did appear here at The Sunset f Fame" in hopes that the word of mouth will spread...and maybe someday, I can do it in NYC again Off Broadway...I have unfinished business in NYC since Hyman Kaplan which I have never been able to resolve... and maybe I'll never get that opportunity ...but at least I'm enjoying every moment of my life now balancing my love for performing, my love for my husband, children, and now grandchildren...and my love helping others by listening to them and telling them a story from my life which might relate to what they are dealing with...I realized long ago that most people want to feel that they aren't alone...and I'd like to believe that I can help them through a song or a story feel like they matter...

Remember, most have 15 minutes of fame, Barbara Minkus has had 18. See her at The Braid 2912 Colorado Avenue, #102 in Santa Monica CA Saturday July 13 at 8 pm and Sunday July 21 at 5 pm.

Visit or call 800-838- 3006.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Clent Bowers Talks about Food For All at the Hollywood Fringe

Clent Bowers Presents is pleased to announce FOOD FOR ALL, a dramatic fantasy musical, written, performed and produced by Broadway sensational singer, actor Clent Bowers at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, a solo piece, directed by Sherrie Lofton. There have been four performances so far of Food For All at the Stephanie Feury Theatre in Hollywood at 5636 Melrose Avenue, a half block east of Larchmont. FOOD FOR ALL was performed on Sunday, June 8 at 2:30 pm, Friday, June 14 at 7 pm, Wednesday, June 19 at 8:30 pm, and Saturday, June 22 at 12: 30 pm. The one performance remaining will be held Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 2 pm. Running time is 60 minutes. 

Clent Bowers’s credits include Broadway: Big (original cast), Cats, The Wiz Revival, The First (original cast), Harrigan Hart (Original Cast), Off-Broadway: Jacques Brel Blues (original cast), BlackBerries (Original Cast), Maybe I'm doing it wrong.  Regional and worldwide: Harlem Spiritual singers (Korea/China) Porgy and Bess (Berlin), Body and Soul, (original cast, Germany, Amsterdam, and Austria), Bubbling Brown Sugar, Aint Misbehavin, The Wizard of Oz, Randy Newman's Faust, Three Musketeers, Jesus Christ Super Star, Five Guys Named Mo, to name a few.

Bowers took time out of his busy schedule recently to talk about the show. Here's what he had to say:

How did your show come about?

Food For All was conceived & written from original stories I recorded.. It was developed for this staged incarnation from my audio recordings at first with director Michael Woodworth Fuller, largely from improvisations. However, the piece opened completely staged and edited by me and my current director Sherrie Lofton.

Where did the music come from?

I wrote some of it, and to my original songs I added additional music that was beautifully scored and intertwined with orchestrations by musical director, Ron Barnett.

What is the point of the piece? Tell us the basic storyline.

First let me thank my acting counsel, John Kirby, has been instrumental in helping to clarify and re-shape the intent of the piece. Food For All is a work in progress.

It's a solo piece in which a morbidly obese man who sits in a 4-wheel desk chair glutting his gut for more is suddenly awakened by real and imagined nightmares and decides the time has come for change. 

What does he do to make changes?

He takes an unexpected journey through past and current events that ultimately led to his obese state and rediscovers the meaning of self-esteem, enabling weight loss, and a new celebration of life.  

What do you think is the most exciting element of your show?

From Hollywood to Broadway and back, I have witnessed an increasingly narrow perception of body image in our industry and in our entire country. I find it imperative to try to do something to stay working, stay sane, and find a healthy life.

Will it affect audiences in a positive light?

Absolutely. Food For All has delighted its audiences so far with laughter, pathos, mystery and personal encouragement.

Remember you have one more chance to catch Food For All at the Hollywood Fringe, at the Stephanie Feury Theatre in Hollywood at 5636 Melrose Avenue, a half block east of Larchmont. this Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 2 pm

Tickets are $15 and may be purchased online at 

also at the door.  Use Discount Code CBP to purchase tickets for FOOD FOR ALL.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Spotlight on Avery Clyde

The Road Theatre Company proudly presents Michael Perlman's At the Table at the Lankershim Arts Center May 17 through July 7. This riveting play deals with six so called liberal friends who realize on a weekend retreat that they are not as enlightened or diverse as they thought. Every week we will spotlight a member of the cast. This week the light shines on Roadie veteran Avery Clyde.

Who do you play and what purpose does this character serve?

I play Chris. Chris is Elliott’s best friend from childhood and his guest for the weekend. She is meeting the group for the first time. In the opening conversation Chris serves up our title : “ The terms of a conversation are controlled by who’s invited to the table…” Like a gun at the beginning of the play that fires us through to the very last page. I would say my character definitely disturbs the peace that is the annual getaway. Chris is a woman who leans in and does not stay quiet.

What are your challenges as an actor?

The show sometimes feels like Cirque du Soliel, many conversations can happen at the same time. So the challenge was to be ahead of it and to be really connected as a group of 8 and to do this early on. My hope is that you feel like a voyeur, looking through the window on this group of friends, hoping they don’t see you, cause you can’t stop watching.

How are you preparing?

I’d say my process is “jump off the cliff and be more specific”, but I’m method. I love research and real life recall so I start there. I pull a lot of pictures and create a book of that world, I pull music and create a sound track for my character for the run and I create time with my fellow actors.

When you’re an ensemble, time spent makes a huge difference. Nick Marcone and I went on a run, Christian and I spent an afternoon together. As a group we got together multiple times…around an actual table.

What is the theme or message of the play?

A mid-30s search for identity and our words. Chris starts us pondering “Who’s invited to the table?” then as we get deeper into the play it gets more personal, Elliott says “Who is me?”

One of my favorite quotes is Niche- “Know thy self”. We are all in search of that answer.

Talk about your fellow castmates and your director.

To say the cast enjoys each other would be an understatement. “Yes and” it's all over the place!

The two most important characters to Chris are Nate and Elliot. Nate is a surprise to Chris. They end up dramatically changing each others lives. Chemistry is like an egg, ya gotta respect it or it could break. On stage Christian and I just trust each other completely. It’s different and alive every night.

Ray Paolantonio is perfect casting as Elliott and a kick ass producer. I’m a producer outside of ATT so I had a good feeling about the production before we even started rehearsal...because of Ray. Lucky me we get to play best friends.

A little bit of luck and a lot of Judith Moreland created this amazing At The Table cast. You wanna work with Judith Moreland. She’s a dream. An accomplished actress herself, she leads with preparation, wicked smart intelligence and a ton of love for the work and everyone involved. Coming from that place, trust just shows up. The impossible becomes possible and the play abounds. For me, Fridays can’t come fast enough.

At the Table plays at the Lankershim Arts Center 5108 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA through July 20. There is street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818 766-8838.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sporlight on Jacqueline Misaye

The Road Theatre Company proudly presents Michael Perlman's At the Table at the Lankershim Arts Center May 17 through July 7. This riveting play deals with six so called liberal friends who realize on a weekend retreat that they are not as enlightened or diverse as they thought. Every week we will spotlight a member of the cast. This week the light shines on Jacqueline Misaye.

Who do you play and what purpose does this character serve?

I’m playing the character of Sophie, who comes along in the second part of the play to push some characters in core group of friends to embrace their better or more authentic selves. She is incredibly in tune with who she is, and the place she takes up in the world.  Her confidence and strong sense of self serve as support beams for the more off balance and struggling characters in the play. Which isn’t to say that she has it all figured out.  She doesn’t.  But, she is the first person to acknowledge that there may be answers outside of ourselves, and that actually listening and taking in what the people around us are saying can bring us closer to what rings true within us. 

What are your challenges as an actor?

As a person, I feel extremely close to my character.  I think some of the challenges have been to find the differences between myself and Sophie. Which is such a lovely problem to have.  That, although we as people may be triggered by similar things or hear things the same way, she reacts to things in a softer, more companionate way than I am able to.  It’s wonderful to work on a character I could, in many aspects, aspire to be.  

How are you preparing?

As a cast, we spent a lot of time getting to know one another and, under the incredible direction of Judith (Moreland), building up to the level of trust that is needed.  Of course I do work on the character on my own, but given the ensemble nature of the show, that work would be meaningless without the other people on stage with me.  

What is the theme or message of the play?

People talk a lot over each other in the show. Sharing their points of view, their perspective, their defined personality.  Sophie starts off the second act with a plea, not to be heard, but to have the opportunity to listen.  The play begs us to listen to our loved ones, listen to the world outside our selves, and listen to the person we want to be- or suffer the ramifications of what happens when you don’t.

Talk about your fellow castmates and your director.

When I first read the play, I initially expected the biggest challenge would be to create the sense of comaraderie with my fellow actors on stage that the play demands. But they have all made that so incredibly easy.  I can look around the room as Sophie or Jackie and I can trust that I can have an authentic, playful, or meaningful moment with everyone on stage with me.  That is such a rare and wonderful gift, and it keeps the play alive for me every night. That trust and freedom was created and nurtured by our brilliant Judith Moreland.  I am still pinching myself that I have gotten to work with such an emotionally intelligent, compassionate, egoless, generous, empathetic, artistically freeing and brilliant director.  I couldn’t have had a more rewarding experience with Judy and this insanely talented cast.

At the Table will play at the Lankershim Arts Center 5108 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA through July 7 with possible extension. There is street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818 766-8838.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Popular LA Theatre Actress Tanna Frederick Opens in New Film

It is a pleasure to announce the World Premiere of the feature film Two Ways Home at the Dances With Films 22 film festival as an Official Selection Supporting Mental Health Awareness on June 15th, 2019 at the Historic TCL Theatre in Hollywood, California

Tanna Frederick (Defrost, Hollywood Dreams) stars alongside Tom Bower (Die Hard, Waltons) appears in her first produced narrative feature film Two Ways Home. A film from the heart, raising awareness about mental health in cooperation with aligned charities including Two Ways Home was directed by Ron Vignone, from an original screenplay by Richard Schinnow, independently produced and filmed in Iowa. 

Tanna sat down and talked with us with great honesty about the project and what it means to her.

Talk about your charitable organization in Iowa where the film was made.

I started an organization in Iowa to focus on and bring into light midwest filmmaking and filmmakers and highlight the abundance of talented individuals in the heartland. There are not only so many talented actors and crew that I grew up with but incredible stories and playwrights/ screenplays that come from storytellers in the midwest. Case and point the screenplay of TWO WAYS HOME writer Richard Schinnow as well as all of the incredible material and artists I worked with at the University of Iowa writers program. I saw a lot of films which were larger budgets from Hollywood, when I moved out here, that touched upon utilizing the beauty of the midwest landscape in their films, but only in such a way that it perhaps served as the background for a horror story at times or the cast itself was not local hire. This film held casting calls across Iowa and stars Tom Bower who has Iowa ties and Joel West who is also an Iowa native. I just wanted to make sure to represent the midwest as an abundance of talent and resource for filmmakers.

Tell us in detail about Two Ways Home and the character you play.

I play a strong woman who has faced adversity in her life though mental health issues, namely undiagnosed bi-polar disorder. After getting out of jail, treated, and with no where else to go, she is faced with the challenge of trying to reconcile with her thirteen year old daughter and trying to get her grandfather back onto his farm from a nursing home. This story rings particularly close to the heart for me because it is something I would have liked to have done for my grandfather in an ideal world-taken him out of the nursing home to live out his days on his farmland. Tom Bower reminded me so much with his incredible acting of my grandfather...Very tough and stern, but yearning so deeply for his land and animals and dealing with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) from WWII. It was very haunting and bittersweet to make this film.I really felt I made peace with my grandfather for what I couldn't do in life for him.

What do you hope to do with the profits from the film?

I hope to give a percentage of the proceeds to the National Alliance On Mental Illness - NAMI - an organization that in this political landscape is under funded and thus still under appreciated and utilized nationally. With the rise in suicides indicative of depression and the stigma and shame often associated with mental health disorders, there can never be enough support and awareness brought to the table regarding mental health.
What do you hope audiences will take away about mental illness?

That a mental health disorder, specifically bi-polar in this case, is not a weakness but builds strength and story in a person's life. I hope the more quiet portrayal of my character's bi-polar disorder, in conjunction with the notes of Tom Bower's character and his post war trauma, will not override the beautiful story of a family that seeks to stay together and move forward but plays a key part in the families defining strength to fight to come together, that is what makes them unique, and it is by confronting a perceived 'weakness' that an even bigger strength and impenetrable love can emerge.

How did you first get interested in doing this kind of work? I see you as a terribly caring and brave soul.

My parents were both on the board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the North Iowa Alliance for Mental Illness as I was growing up. My father was a pharmacist who devised a system of med sets in Northern Iowa for the mentally ill to help keep monthly and weekly meds. My mother is a very strong woman with two master's degrees, one in psychiatric nursing, who taught nurses to assist in caring for mentally ill. We also were a part of a program and unit called the North Iowa Transition Center, which took the severely mentally ill off the street, housed them in apartments, rehabilitated them with therapy and medication, found job placement for them, and stayed alongside them and their families throughout their lives. The North Iowa Area Transition Center shut down because of funding, but I ran the Los Angeles Marathon four times to raise money for it. It was an interesting ride to see such a hopeful program that helps us see the stigma attached to mental illness. Without adequate education and information in society regarding mental health issues, some neighbors would protest the Transition Center being on 'their' block or around 'their' children. That was a while ago and thankfully there were far more people who rallied around helping and educating themselves.

Is this role a dream role for you to play?

It is absolutely a dream role. I love the underdog characters who might not be the protagonists running out of the gate, but end up touching the audience in a way they didn't expect that is far more complicated and long lasting, and hopefully familiar...The sort of 'messy' characters who on the inside are exceptionally strong and have that tough, midwest female lion's heart.

And working with Director Ron Vignone was incredible, having the value of an Iowa story lensed through a Californian-lol. I felt like he appreciated the midwest more than I did, and the story even more than I did, if that is at all possible. He was a wonderful director and shaped the story and our work though a sort of gentle musicality that I can see on the screen. That's the only way I can describe his directing-sort of like watching him play classical piano-very elegant and subtle and coming together through his very delicate and quiet precision and watching.

Do you have another project you are yearning to work on?

I feel lucky to keep finding these fantastic characters that are strong and beautifully ugly sometimes. Like theatre rehearsals-the sort of obtuse moments that stick out and end up working for the performances because they just do-I love finding characters like that...Unexpected, loving, and deliciously human.

Add anything we did not mention.

Thank you so much for supporting indie film, Don!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

"TWO WAYS HOME" World Premiering DANCES WITH FILMS ~Official Selection~
6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

Ticket Link:

Trailer Link:

Monday, June 10, 2019

2019 Interview - Ana Isabel O

Brilliant scientist and author Ana Isabel O is in the process of creating a novel, not a children's story like her other writing endeavors, but ... her own take on a collective enforced disappearance, crime against humanity and the family and social implications in a Narcostate of a third world country.  In our conversation she talks in great detail about how deeply the issue affects her life and her purpose in writing the story.

Tell our readers about your forthcoming book. What is it about? Isn't it a fiction of a real-life crime case?
Intermittently events in my life propel me to write this forthcoming book, now I’ve reached the point of no return.  It was a purging for a fractured heart.  I had no intention of writing down from my secret garden, but when I learned about hidden facts inside a war waged by powers of all kind and discovered a tangled web of corruption, cruelties, injustices that were dumped on a case, I felt I just had to write about it. As cliché as it can sound, there are places where reality goes beyond fiction, therefore all the story is fictionalized. That wasn't easy; it takes time as well as an emotional toll. There were times I tried to deny my need to write, that's why it took more than two years to write, but writing really is part of who I am as a person, as a woman.

You are right it was inspired by a true crime event, the terrible and evil influence of a corrupt and highly promiscuous  woman, her deeds into a family,  the fatal end of a man in a small backwards town in a third world narco-country. It's an extreme case, unique because intricated political  elements, weird at its best, were exposing the utter abuse of authority, corruption, retaliations, betrayals; outraged  reaction was inevitable.   

Thereupon I got a sinuous wave of ache that tested all of my ideas pretty sorely. I had to finally expand the whole stockpile, which includes plethora, absurdity  and unfathomable bliss. I felt released from having to worry about that. I take that power to be a step of legitimate grace in my life, for which I am immensely thankful.

What are the characters like in the book? Are many of them villains?

Characters are many honest hypocrites, cynicals called heroes who are pathological cases no better than the villains they fight; idiosyncrasy  stands apart here. These characters are what they think they are because they choose to be right and wrong at the first place; reality is that villains are on all sides; they are immoral, horrible, twisted creatures. It’s a hiatus from the deconstructionist assumptions that some promoted.  In the book few characters could  match man's mastery of Humanity.  Despicable personages. By accepting that much, I’m far happier with life. 

What do you want readers to take away after reading it? How do you feel they will react?

I like to put a torch where there is obscurity, its an area I enjoy writing because it brings about open interpretation. When I write something I’m giving some of that pleasure to my readers. Good fiction uproar the soul, which is to say evokes an emotional response. A reader may be galvanized to laughter or tears, this is what I want readers to experience, a feeling that reverberates even after you put the book down. One can get lost in the story and enter in another world. It could be delirious, like being lost in an intriguing play. By presenting your own version of the unthinkable a writer can create a whole world of emotions for the reader.

Why is this new story so important to you as a writer?

Its pursuit to pulling together real facts, bizarre characters,  chaos, temporal and historical events occurred in  a really strange place of this world... evil can be inspiring. The book is composed in journal entries. Fictive pieces based in reality which in turn are based in horror. Notes, photos from the characters. Epitaphs sent to me on the tapestry of another's dialect. I did not choose to devote a book to a crime reality.  The reality of the crime chose me.

A few years ago when I started gathering up the work around me, I discovered that I had a gift of ominous mini chapters I would use in the book. Because the subject is complex and rather interesting all kinds of people approached me about writing a book with them. This  pulp work has less to do with inspiration and more to do with wanting to uncover things, made with real facts to new readers. It had to do with wanting truths to be seen as useful. When I was a kid I rejected certain environments, their idiosyncrasy from real life and also daily digest, but  overall bumpy reality and  life-threatening events.  I remember thinking about all those elements as a Humanistic experience based very much in the  factual arriving from ends wanting to be considered. That being said, there is a hard work in every chapter. Section titles emphasize attention and make them catchy. In this coming book there are new voices that rarely get the chance to see their names fictionalized; thinkers who aren't what they pretend to be, somewhere wanting to appear useful in the service of their community to a world that could withdraw their pathetic/liar voices just clicking fingers. 

The truth depicted in the story is that what some people find deadly,  could be fully interesting as breathing. The inarticulators would have us believe that an awful crime should be kept out of our daily conversations and saved for the hypocritical parties. But words belong where truth exists. The story wants to live where incorruptibility and endurance have been prioritized. Truth is the first prose of a boundless and unchained soul.  Like a strong human depiction defying taboos and prejudices.

When do you expect to finish the work?

This year.  Surely there will be another coming up because some parts are still happening. In the place  where the book and history are depicted, justice is a game of lies; filthy  perpetrators  try to stop the light that comes out from the truth which proves the crime wasn’t  perfect. I’m actually very excited, because in the second part I couldn’t see at first what was going to happen next. Its not in my nature to wait for the next day to come so I now turn the pages.  I had to write them. Once I sit at my desk, I naturally know what’s going to happen next. If I don’t, or if I don’t want to write something, I don’t write. I can start and I can stop and I can continue the next day, as I choose. You know, if the character or protagonist is happy, there’s no story at all.

What else exciting is going on in your life right now?

Currently, I write with a nickname mystery assays.  My children books are up and rolling, its always good to trip among the Magical Forest (laughing) , got  two more coming out this 2019 as well as music on my label. An album for my book "How Roibeard helps Sorley" composed by Sam Morrison. Also publishing a compendium of some poetry in French language. Gathering recordings and highlights of an Avant garder. I spend time with my beehives but when I'm not around is like losing a part of observation. Then when I got back there’s no move to be made, because I don’t know everything I need to just yet. Overall I'm  giving plenty of room to my household.  The last six years we have travelled a good deal, you know  business. Every  year we would spend weeks at a time in distant surroundings, to my end its inspiring but also demanding....really (chuckling softly)...Mind, that’s also fuel to all kinds of exciting magic! 

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Spotlight on Cherish Monique Duke

The Road Theatre Company proudly presents Michael Perlman's At the Table at the Lankershim Arts Center May 17 through July 7. This riveting play deals with six so called liberal friends who realize on a weekend retreat that they are not as enlightened or diverse as they thought. Every week we will spotlight a member of the cast. This week the light shines on Cherish Monique Duke.

Who do you play and what purpose does this character serve?

I play Lauren, the only woman and person of color in a group of four long time college friends. She is the unapologetic mother of the group, the consummate host, the always helpful, always caring, always listening friend. At least in the first Act.

What are your challenges as an actor?

I've done too many shows to count at this point in my life, and this role ranks as one of the most challenging. Lauren is such a complicated character and what made it difficult at first was filling in the pieces that weren't on the page. Figuring out her backstory, and what happened in her past that would answer how and why she feels the need to be so overly caring to her friends. Why can't she see that she is mothering and "mammying" them? Why is she so dead set on this weekend going well and making sure Nicholas and Elliot end up together? Once I answered those questions, it was filling in the year in between the first and second Acts. Why does she come back to the cabin when she knows her ex-boyfriend is bringing his new date? Why does she give this speech about race? What has she discovered about herself in the last year that her friends don't seem to see? Lauren changes so much from the beginning of the play to the end and that's what makes the character so juicy to play. None of those questions are spelled out so you as the actor get the fun and challenging job of figuring it out. That's the beauty of interpretation though, bringing words on a page to life by creating a layered history that drives the objective of the present circumstances and propels your character to their eventual future.

How are you preparing?

I always like to start with my super objective. What does my character want and can't live without. With that I can find my intentions, how do I go about getting what I want. Lauren's friends are her family, she loves them so incredibly much and because of that love she wants to push them to be "better" versions of themselves. She does everything she can to make sure they are taken care of and that their needs are met, that she forgets herself and what she wants out of life. (A true statement for so many women.) I also love spending time with the script. Turning on some great meditation music and marinating on the language by reading and re-reading the lines, turning them over in my mind, and saying them out loud. Aside from the personal at home work, its spending quality time with this amazing cast. understanding each others rhythms, characterization and energy has been the secret sauce to this play and what makes it feel so natural and fun when we are out there together. If that's the secret sauce then the meat is Judy (Moreland, director). Having intricate conversations, asking a million questions, and taking her notes was everything.

What is the theme or message of the play?

There are so many messages and themes in this play, but the biggest one for my character is: Black people aren't given the luxury of being able to truly define their identities. The world sees us and defines us by our skin color. We can't wipe it off, or fake it, or create our own reality because no matter how hard we try our skin color is what people see first. You can wear the nicest suit, have the biggest bank account, and be the smartest man in America, but will still be accosted by the police and labeled (aka Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. ). So when people (liberals and conservatives alike) say, "can't we all just get along" or "I dont see color" or "it only matters who you are inside not whats on the outside" thats a lie. Because what is on the outside IS what matters most for us. We can either embrace and love our difference and acknowledge the beauty of our skin color or we can remain blind to the idea that we even have a say in the matter.

Talk about your fellow castmates and your director.

This play and process wouldn't be what its been without Judy. She is simply an incredible director not just for actors but staging and creatively as well. She allowed us to play so much and that sense of freedom mortified into the naturalistic energy we have on stage. She asks questions without giving answers, she gives notes that are spot on and she lets actors interpret characters for themselves without putting her own conventions on their ideas.. One of my favorite lines of hers was "the most uninteresting choice for an actor to make is to not listen. Its so much more interesting when they listen even if they are acting like they aren't" (Amazing note).

How do I begin to talk about this cast! I mean we are stacked with such incredible talent, professionalism, and just over all amazing vibes. We all connect in such a deep way and we just love pushing each other and having fun. What I love most is that we all love this show and want it to be amazing so we work really hard at having each others backs, connecting, and having a synergy on stage. 

At the Table will play at the Lankershim Arts Center 5108 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA through July 7. There is street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818 766-8838.

Friday, June 7, 2019

2019 Interview with Director Fritz Brekeller

Hoboken is about to open at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Director Fritz Brekelller took time from a busy schedule to talk with us about the show.

Fritz Brekeller has worked extensively in the soap opera world, winning multiple Daytime Emmy Awards, most recently this past May, as part of the directing team at CBS’s The Young and the Restless. THEATER: He received a 2016 NY Innovative Theater award for Outstanding Direction of Scott C. Sickles’ Composure at the Workshop Theater. Among his many other theater credits, includes two past collaborations with playwright Laura Rohrman: My Life as You and The Elevator: Secret Thoughts. He also conceived the musical revue Foxy Ladies Love/Boogie 70’s Explosion, which played to sold-out crowds at the legendary Duplex in Greenwich Village. TV: ABC’s All My Children. FILM: What Would Bear Do? and the short, Through the Morning. WEB: season 4 of the indie soap, Empire and the pilot for the off-off Broadway spoof, Off-Off Kilter.

Tell us about your association with Fringe. Is this your first time participating?

Yes, this is my first time directing a Fringe show – in any Fringe festival. However, I did work as a Production Manager for a terrific musical called The Crack in the Ceiling back in 2015 at Fringe NYC. While that show was great, my experience with that festival was less than desirable and left me leery of the Fringe model. Then in 2018, I had just come to LA, Laura (Rohrman) expressed interest in mounting a production of Hoboken. Someone had recommended the Hollywood Fringe, but I wasn’t sold on the idea until I saw the FringeTV highlight reel. That video showed the sense of community and camaraderie that was missing in NY and it opened me up to the idea of doing our show as part of this festival. I have to say; I have not been disappointed. The festival has barely just begun and already we feel the support of the other artists and it’s very exciting to be a part of it.

Describe Laura's piece and why it will rivet audiences as a thriller.

Hoboken, set in 2008, focuses on Jack and Erica who hook-up on Halloween and quickly set up house. We see the highs and lows of their relationship over the course of a year. She dreams of being a famous actress and he’s got the means to make her dream come true. Along for the ride are Erica’s BFF, Sam and her new boyfriend, Niko, a Russian screenwriter who has written a movie the girls want to star in. Being in their late 20s/early 30s, they like to party and live the good life but when an unspeakable act is revealed – all their lives are changed forever.

This is not a thriller in the traditional sense. Yes, we have international intrigue and characters that may not be what they seem. We even have some edge of your seat moments. But we call it a ”high voltage” thriller because there is a layer of the storytelling that takes the play to a most unexpected place. It is quite shocking and people who have seen or read the play, tell me they never saw it coming. It for that element that I think audiences will be riveted.

Tell us about your soap opera background. How does that help in directing this piece?

I fell into the soap world when my college professor urged me to do my required internship at CBS’s As the World Turns. I scoffed at first but after tuning in for two weeks, was hooked. I became fascinated because it seemed like a fantastic merge of the stage and the camera. It was like they were doing a new play every day and three cameras captured it all. The head writer of ATWT at the time, Douglas Marland, was a master storyteller, crafting extensive year long tales and weaving 40-some characters in and out of those stories.

I went right from being an intern to a full-time job and was fortunate enough to train for several different positions. I worked at most of the NY shows, most notably for 14 years at ABC’s All My Children but by 2011 all those shows were off the air and I started working in indie films and got back into theater. But when I got a call from The Young and the Restless last year about a job, I couldn’t wait to come to California. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of their team and am grateful to work in the daytime drama world again.

I know people like to make fun of soaps, I mean they are essentially romantic melodramas but let it be noted that not only are they the oldest form of storytelling on broadcast television but literally every country in the world has this form of serialized stories and in many parts of the world, they are the most popular show on the air. So clearly, there is something about them people connect to.

It is an incredible learning ground: from a production point of view, you are shooting over 100 pages of material each day; and from an acting perspective, there is not a lot of rehearsal, so the actors must make strong choices. Both sides have influenced me as a director: know what you want and be prepared, so you can make it happen. I’m not saying Hoboken is a melodrama but there is certainly a heightened sense of reality depicted in the play. My time in the daytime arena has proved most useful.

Is this a romantic thriller? What other work might you compare it to?

Well Don, that’s a tricky question. I would not describe it as a romantic thriller but more of a toxic love story. It’s hard to compare it to other works, but it has been likened to Patrick Marber’s Closer.

Tell us about your association withe the playwright before this venture.

Laura and I were introduced by a mutual friend when she had a short play in the Samuel French Festival and needed a director. The play, The Elevator: Secret Thoughts, sees 4 people in an elevator and all the dialogue is what they are thinking and because Laura wrote it, they are thinking some pretty crazy things. I was working at AMC at the time and recruited several actors from there to appear in the show, one of whom was Kelli Giddish, who’s currently on Law & Order: SVU. After that, Laura and I decided to mount her play, My Life as You which was quite successful and ran for a month with another AMC actor (and Emmy winner), Jeff Branson. We then did a reading of her play, Reporter Girl, about her grandmother, Dale Messick who created the comic strip Brenda Starr. I believe it was during that time, she started talking about a “crazy” new play she was writing called Hoboken. Over the last ten years, we done several reading and workshops to develop the piece and it’s very exciting to actually get it on its feet.

What real challenges are you facing in preparing this work for the stage?

The biggest challenge has been getting to a 90-minute running time. At the table read, the 84-page script took a little over an hour and a half to read. But since there are huge moments that are just skimmed over in a reading, I knew we needed to cut it down. I just didn’t know where those cuts were going to come from. But in the rehearsal process, we’d breakdown each scene and start looking for things to trim. Each time we’d work a scene, we would find a line here and some words there. The more we worked it, the more the cuts came naturally, and we were able to see how to best shape and concisely tell the story. We are now down to 73 tight pages.

If we had to choose just one piece to see at Fringe, why should we choose Hoboken?

I feel fairly certain that Hoboken is unlike any other show at the Fringe. It is sexy, edgy and has a shocking twist you will be thinking about for some time afterwards. Also, we have a powerhouse cast who are doing incredible work and I have to admit, they are pretty easy on the eyes.

Do you personally have a favorite movie thriller that you like to watch whenever it airs? If so, why this choice?

I am a huge fan of Brian DePalma’s – especially his late 70’s/early 80’s films, like: Dressed to KillBody Double and Sisters. I never get tired of watching those. No one works a split screen like DePalma and the scores to his movies are so dramatic. I love it! His films are sexy, sensual thrillers, not unlike Hoboken. However, we dig into darker and more uncharted territory.

What do you hope audiences will take away from viewing Hoboken?

I know I keep eluding to the twist in the show and it deals with something that is rarely spoken about, not just in theater but in general. We hope to shed some light and open the discussion that needs to be had. It is a much bigger problem than is dealt with in the play but to get folks thinking and talking is the ultimate goal.

Anything else you care to add to our discussion that you feel will heighten audience experience of the play?

Yes – take an Uber or Lyft to the theater, parking can be hell around there during the festival. The Fringe shows start on time, so save yourself the aggravation and if you don’t have to look for parking, you can enjoy a cocktail before (and/or after) the show at Fringe Central which is right next door to our theater!
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Hoboken was written by Laura Rohrman, Directed by Fritz Brekeller
Produced by: The Waverly Writers Collective
Featuring: Patrick Cronen, Mary Ellen Everett, Mikaila McMaster and Christopher Valente

Hoboken was developed with RCL Writers Group, The Fold and The New School Alumni Project/DAP Lab with Fritz Brekeller at the helm. It was selected for Rising Sun Theater Company’s Under Rehearsed Reading Series in 2015 and produced as a sold-out workshop at Shelter Studios, NYC with Double Down Productions /Tony White in 2018.
It plays:
Sunday June 9th, 4:15 pm
Saturday June 15th, 3:45 pm
Sunday June 16th, 8:15 pm 
Friday June 21st, 10:15 pm
Thursday June 27th, 8:15 pm

Location: Dorie Theatre at The Complex Hollywood, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd.