Category Archives: Reviews

Aventine Hollywood Turns One: Gia On The Move Reviews

aventine-smReview and photo credit: Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Earlier this year, a restaurant in Hollywood that I had not dined at, celebrated its one year anniversary.  I was amazed to discover, I had already eaten there before…sort of…well let me explain…

Upscale-casual intersected by comfortable California chic and very charmingly Italian, Aventine Bar PatioTrattoria has been rather quietly existing on Cahuenga just above Selma in the backyard of Hollywood grit. Set amongst more than a few ructious sportsbars, un-branded local coffee shops, hole-in-the-wall clothing stores and uber-goth hair salons, it is quite the hidden jewel. 

In fact, had I not had the necessity a week earlier to walk into the restaurant to ask a quick unrelated parking question, I might have continued to pass it by.

Enjoying a  LIVE DJ, sparkle lit,  bar enhanced back room dining area, lined with small banquettes and furnished with a large high-top group table, I barely came up for air in between evolving menu samples and Napa Valley wine pairings of Pinot Noir with distinct black cherry notes and bold, rich Cabernet.  But then a familiar voice sounded my name and I lifted my head in excitement.

“Maurizio! — Oh my gosh!  I’ve been looking for you! What are you doing here?’ 

“Well here I am bella! I can’t believe it’s you!  So good to see you!”

 …it was my long lost acquaintance, the former Sicilian owner one of my favorite, but now closed, restaurants on Melrose, shouting above the din,

“We’re all here!…the staff…the kitchen…everyone!”


Celery Soup Puree with White Truffle Oil

The authentic Italian flavors, cooking style, and overall ambience created by owners/brothers Gian-Paolo Veronese and Chef Adolfo Veronese with Los Angeles restaurant aficionados Sylvain Bitton and JT Torregiani, plus a familiar local assemblage have divined exquisite simplicity into a glamorazzi destination. And there could not be a more perfect Italian meal to eat in Hollywood.

Endive with Tuna Tartare

Endive with Tuna Tartare

There is nothing to downplay on this menu. The fare is delectably light — not typical of garden-variety Italian served throughout the city.

Unusual items stood out in the special celebration menu such as the pureed Celery Soup with white truffle oil, Foglia d’Endive stuffed with tuna tartare, mouthwatering Burrata with baby arugula pesto, reduced cherry balsamic, black lava salt, evoo and  grilled crostini.

The pizza, always, my most criticized feature of any menu, was cooked to perfection and topped with sweet tomatoes.


Meatball over Polenta

Sides of shrimp wrapped in bacon; meatballs over creamy, unusually light polenta with mozzarella and raisins disappeared within seconds of being served at the table. Final courses included tender beef skewers, white pizzas with prosciutto and arugula, ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and pancetta and pumpkin amoretto cookies.

The party was jam packed and everyone was as happy as Pharrell Williams hit song played in the background. The entire atmosphere was contagious.

Ravioli with Pancetta

Ravioli with Pancetta

On the regular menu you will want to sample interesting dishes such as the Popcorn Al Tartufo - truffle popcorn with parmesan and Italian parsley; Agnolotti stuffed roasted chicken breast and goat cheese. Topped with sweet yellow corn, baby heirloom tomatoes and a white wine butter sauce; Scottadito Costoletta Di Maiale - Seared pancetta wrapped double Duroc Pork chop, grilled polenta, baby carrots, porcini thyme white wine sauce; and the Caramel Budino - chocolate-pecan crumble, salted Caramel, soft whipped cream, Maldon salt, for dessert.

The absolutely stunning feature of this menu is the price points. Not a single item is unreasonable.  You will be able to heartily enjoy a festive evening filled with delicious variety without going broke.

But see for yourself. (Click here for the menu – there are 3)  Reservations are recommended.  This restaurant is always filled.

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Food for Thought: Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzels

Glutino Pretzel Twists

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


As part of my annual trek to the Natural Foods Expo West I picked up several bite-sized sample items to take home and “chew on.” Not being a fan of noshing personally, I was surprised when a sudden hankering for a salty snack didn’t turn into a walk down guilt trip lane.

I had been anticipating that heavy, weighty taste of a regular pretzel snack. Not to be. Glutino Pretzel Twists  were light, flavorful and only a small serving size, less than 1 ounce, satisfied the craving.

Free of wheat, gluten, milk, and casein, the remaining ingredients are not completely worth cheering about. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a gluten-free snack, it’s one more choice to add to the list.  Here’s the breakdown:





You can shop online for these treats, get coupons, recipes and join their community.  There are special information and support sections for people with Celiac Disease which is the best thing about this product.

Farewell Charlotte Sometimes – R.I.P.

Charlotte Sometimes at Room 5

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move   Photo Credit: Eric John


“Are you looking for Room 5? [big smile]  It’s upstairs. Yeah, just go upstairs!”

I had walked in with my photographer staring around the room like a deer in the headlights until a voice from the front dining table of the first floor restaurant took charge pointing me in the right direction.  Raven hair, black eyes, stunning and personality heavy…who else could it be…of course it was Charlotte!

What an opener!

Friday, April 11, 2014 was the official release party for Charlotte Sometimes’ new EP “By Request”.  It was also her farewell performance.  At the top of the show she made the shocking announcement that this was to be her “funeral”.  After tonight indie pop, alternative rocker, Charlotte Sometimes would be no more.

No she’s not leaving the business.  But after a long career off and on as Charlotte Sometimes, Jessica Charlotte Poland, has decided to hang up her fame as an NBC, The Voice contestant and move on to a different future. It’s a whole new sound in development.

Beginning the set with How I Could Just Kill a Man and ending with It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To, she utterly captivated and excited the audience throughout with new releases like Paint the Sky and a super cool sing-along of Foster The People’s “Pumped up Kicks”. ( which, I will geekily admit was kinda fun; honestly, I never actually knew the words to that song until Charlotte made us sing them. lol)

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks

you better run better run

faster than my bullet

As the 2nd floor packed in, she wittily addressed a standing-room-only crowd while furiously wrestling with the mic and her acoustic guitar, “It’s ok were just sound checking you can talk amongst yourselves.”

Very funny…

Actually she is pretty hilarious. In a lighter tone she is spunky, adorable and quick-witted with a biting sense of humor.  Her best side however is her fiercely confident, sexy, tough-girl intensity always with a hint of longing in her voice.  She’s just Charlotte doing her Charlotte thing even though she likes to call herself a sassy bitch.  And take that anyway you like!  Because however you say it, the girl can sing!

Her voice is so much weightier and with more structure than on her recordings.  Strong in every way she challenges, invites, devours, folds you into her music. “By Request” strips down arrangements noted in her former EP “Circus Head” and focuses distinctly on Charlotte’s vocal stylings which are edgy and voluptuous.  The material is cutting-edge showcasing her unique talent.

Favorite cover of the evening – “Creep” by Radio Head – “I’m a creep…” I think she really meant it, but who couldn’t love her just the same!

We think she’s SPECIAL!

Check out and purchase more of Charlotte Sometimes music on:

Charlotte Sometimes



A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Puppets at The Broad Stage

A Midsummer Night's Dream
by Tracey Paleo, Gia On the Move


“I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.” ~ Bottom

I won’t mince words here. I’m no bard. I’ll get right to the point.  The current production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA, from the creators of War Horse, is the most inspired, hilarious, wicked, spot-on presentation of a classic that a visiting company has dared to offer.

Seamless to the core the actors ravished the language and milked the comedy thoroughly. The bonus was the masterful un-traditional puppetry that added extra flavor, punch and mystique to an age-old favorite.  How will we ever be able to experience this play again without the artistic exactitude and sheer outlandishness of this wildly colorful bent?

A Midsummer Nights DreamBritish Theatre Company Bristol Old Vic has teamed up once again with the Handspring Puppet Company of Capetown, South Africa, foremost in its home country, for a newly imagined, bawdy “Dream” adapting this classic archetypal story of love, into a heady sex-capade, flighty, robust and poetic.   With the permission of the Broad Stage, boundaries are pushed and shape-shifted altogether as spritely as the weirdly acquired fairy band and the king and queen who voluptuously rule them. Without giving away the absolutely stunning surprises of this show, let’s just say, it’s not exactly g-rated and that made this rather fervent rendition so dirty and delicious.  But don’t worry. Every bit of  Shakespeare’s classic is intact. It’s just so much more.

Finally, the unexpected has happened and it is glorious!

To note: this is actually a remount.  The original performance took place at the Bristol Old Vic between February 28 and May 4, 2013.

It may be bold to say, but as a common rule Brits and those who study under their traditions, typically, are devotees of language and the masters of lingua franca where projection, articulation and intelligibility are concerned.  So very boldly, it should be noted that the Bristol Old Vic cast had no problem “crushing it!” There was not a word, a moment, a joke, a jest, a threat, wish, want or need left to linger in the minds of the audience.  Every bit of the vocabulary and intent was crystal clear making this cast perfectly understandable and therefore the play deeply divine in all its extensions.

The curiosity of this particular production is that none of the actors had any prior experience with puppetry and not only learned the lines but the choreography of their wooden and metal toys. The result was an extraordinary realization of decadent possibility immersing the audience into a blurred reality. The surprises of this superb and very groundbreaking exposition will take your breath away.

MSND_prod_shot7_credit_Simon_Annand_96dpi__smallerAs for the familiars…intact is the biting mischief of puck who no longer takes human form but is reduced to a lively, mechanical, little set of garden-instruments.  It is quite ingenious how he is made to take on dog-like characteristics with barely anything that resembles a mammal in symmetry yet perfectly prances, cows, barks, licks, runs, flies and still performs human tasks at his master, Oberon’s command, badly of course, hence the lovers’ comedy.

Oberon and Titania stand as statuesque god-like giants among men and women in their new form, imprimiting an unmistakably mythological, all-encompassing, “forces of nature” tone to their exits, entrances and fairyland stand-offs. It’s eerie, potent and regal.

As for the rest of the attending spirits, they are an assortment of childlike, cupids and what nots, some even scary to behold, entirely loyal to their respective celestials and free as the wind.

Theseus and Hippolyta remain ever the solid reason of all of the characters. Tending to be stoic in other productions their love play is just that. In public Theseus is every bit the ruler of Athen’s and Titania his war won prisoner.  But in private he is a blocked lover whose furtive almost boyish romantic advances are cooly met by fairy queen worshipping Hippolyta in a flirtatious duel, offering a delightful side of a relationship that is not so written in the lines.

The lovers true to form quicken the chase as a rather infantile set of teenagers roaming the forest fighting over each others’ affections as one would expect to witness at a high school sports brawl. They are each quite naive and entertaining.

But oh, The Mechanicals!

There may have never been a production since the inception of the work that The Mechanicals have not stolen the show.  And this was a show-stopping show-stealing performance to surpass all — especially that of Bottom.  These clumsy well-meaning working class gents are perfectly sublime, passionate and frighteningly funny. Their antics and idiocy know no bounds.  But Bottom’s transformation is taken to a thoroughly shocking height in gut busting, unbelievable theatricality.

If you’ve never heard and seen this play before rather than explain it here, a link has been included for your perusal.  And whether you have or have not experienced it for the first time, this will undoubtedly be your FIRST.  Every actor shines with his or her own particular brilliance. Every moment is truly magical!

It is a limited run showing only until April 19th.  Tickets are available through the Broad Stage website:



Now playing at The Broad Stage

At the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center
1310 11th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Directed by Tom Morris

The cast in alphabetical order:

Saikat Ahamed: Snug/Puck
Colin Michael Carmichael: Quince/Peasblossom
Naomi Cranston: Helena
Alex Felton: Lysander
Fionn Gill: Snout/Puck/Moth
Akiya Henry: Hermia
Christopher Keegan: Flute/Philostrate/Cobweb
Kyle Lima: Demetrius
Saskia Portway: Hippolyta / Titania
David Ricardo-Pearce: Theseus/Oberon
Lucy Tuck: Starveling/Mustardsee
Miltos Yerolemou: Bottom/Egeus

Gia Reviews: The Monica Davis Show at Studio C


by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Know when you meet a guy with tattoos and a motorcycle and you think, ‘he looks like trouble’?  Well then why would you go home with him, you nut? ~Monica Davis

Last Saturday evening saw what was to be the final performance of The Monica Davis Show  (now extended) at LA’s Theatre Row small playhouse, Studio C on Santa Monica Blvd.  The material was unexpectedly heavy.  The drama, surprisingly light.

As a dramedy in archetypes Ms. Davis lives out her fantasy of being an Oprah style talk show host while interviewing her multiple alter egos, six altogether, as guests, highlighting the more profound aspects of a perniciously abusive relationship.  It is a quite a comical display of inner personalities who give voice to Davis’ intimate thoughts and private/public actions to viewers in a way that she openly cannot.  They chastise her, sooth her, tear her down, defend her, support her (a heck of a lot better than her own parents), argue with the show’s host and ultimately get her “over the hump” and out of a destructive living situation with a dreadfully alcoholic, drug addict boyfriend.

As a whole, it was an un-even event.  Ms. Davis is an “available” performer easily registering vulnerability and possessing the ability to quickly shift from one emotion to the next.  However,  as a character actress she has work to do. Thus, the array of personalities becomes rather amorphous, tending to display similar tones. This slightly flatlined some of the more important material, bits of which should be shocking, but get glossed over in the acting and the writing.  Ms. Davis could have also used more help in the stage direction which often kept her far too upstage instead of granting us more of her presence front and center.  She comes across often as shy even when her characters are not.

However, as I’ve said in the past regarding one-woman and one-man shows, they are hard; entirely exposing the outer and inner core of the performer, not just the material presented. This being Ms. Davis’ first live performance never-the-less is quite an achievement.  She herself along with this show has the potential to pull out all the stops.  With two more weekends to go, audiences have a lot to look forward to.

THE MONICA DAVIS SHOW is for anyone who has ever bought a self-help book, sought relationship advice, read a Cosmo article or cried into a pillow after a break-up. Or all of the above!


One-Woman Show Starring Comedienne Monica Davis

Directed by John Coppola
Written by Monica Davis
Produced by Michael Sonntag

At Studio C Artists
Now Extended Through April 12th

Studio C Artists is excited to present THE MONICA DAVIS SHOW – a talk show satire about the wisdom of listening to your own voice and leaving bad relationships behind for good.

General Admission – $15.00 in advance ($20 at the door)
Approximate running time: 1 hour

Get Tickets

Studio C Artists

6448 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038

Onward Etc. Is “Leavin’ Home Again” to Tour This Spring

Onward etc
Have your dukes up, because Onward, Etc. are hitting the road for a slew of dates across the country, in conjunction with their forthcoming album release, Sonder On, which was released on March 11 via DC-Jam Records. The sophomore release features exclusive cameos from the likes of ex. Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, Larry & His Flask and more, creating a perfect collection of punk infused folk tracks.
Fresh off the release of their second single, “Crazy Horse,” on American Songwriter, and a full album premiere on Guitar World, frontman Rosco Wuestewald will be joined by fellow travelers, violinist KC Olsen and percussionist Tom Pearson, as they continue their musical travels to every corner of the country, meeting up with friends Flogging Molly along the way. Full tour dates below.
Listening to this band for the first time the resonance was immediate. Unexpected sounds breakthrough to the forefront occasionally giving this music a unique stamp.

Upcoming Tour Dates
Tuesday, April 1 | Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
Wednesday, April 2 | Columbus, OH @ Bernie’s Distillery
Friday, April 4 | Stroudsberg, PA @ Sherman Theater – Living Room
Saturday, April 5 | Atlantic City, NJ @ Atlantic City Beer & Music Fest w/ Less Than Jake
Sunday, April 6 | New York, NY @ Slake
Tuesday, April 8 | Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
Wednesday, April 9 | Marietta, GA @ Swayze’s
Saturday, April 12 | Columbia, MO @ Mojo’s
Sunday, April 13 | Denver, CO @ Hi Dive
Tuesday, April 15 | Salt Lake City, UT @ The Woodshed
Wednesday, April 16 | Boise, ID @ The Crux
Thursday, April 17 | Seattle, WA @ The Kraken
Friday, April 18 | Portland, OR @ Alhambra Theatre
Tuesday, April 22 | Los Angeles, CA @ Hotel Cafe (Get Tickets Now!)
Wednesday, April 23 | Tempe, AZ @ 51west
Thursday, June 5 | Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge w/ Skinny Lister
Saturday, June 7 | Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre w/ Skinny Lister
Tuesday, June 10 | Charlotte, NC @ Visualite Theatre w/ Skinny Lister
Wednesday, June 11 | Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl w/ Skinny Lister
Sunday, June 15 | Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre Of Living Arts w/ Skinny Lister
Monday, June 16 | Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East w/ Skinny Lister
Tuesday, June 17 | New York, NY @ Knitting factory w/ Skinny Lister
Tuesday, June 24 | Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue w/ Skinny Lister
*more dates to be announced
More info on Onward Etc:

Gia Reviews: Closely Related Keys at the Lounge Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


It is capable of responding to almost limitless varieties of human touch, producing sounds ranging in volume from thunder to a whisper… (~a piano and it’s keys)

There has been death all around and yet life waiting to happen, if only they will let it. Luckily for this family, there is hope.

Julia Dolan (Diarra Kilpatrick) is an up-and-coming corporate attorney whose carefully constructed life begins to crumble when she learns she has a half-sister Neyla (Yvonne Huff) – a Muslim who has fled Iraq.  Young Neyla plays the violin and wants to audition for Julliard.  Their father Charlie (Brent Jennings) is foisting the shocking secret and responsibility of Neyla’s care on his American daughter while opening the door to his newly-found-on-Facebook Iraqi daughter without question.  The truth unfolds uncomfortably and angrily.

Closely Related Keys currently a World Premiere at the Lounge Theatre, Hollywood, is supposed to be a story about family conflict and clashing cultures examining the walls we erect in our current climate of racial, religious, moral and political polarization.

In some way it is much more a story about similarities.  The title itself, Closely Related Keys, is actually a musical reference which means,  “To share many common tones.” Indeed, the two sisters in this story are more alike than they realize.  They are both very strong willed young women.  Both are very angry.  Both resentful of their father.  Both hiding a secret relationship.  They are also very loving in ways that surprise themselves. Both have suffered horrific loss — losing their respective mothers to war and terrorism.  This moment is a chance for them to find closure, move on with a new  life, forgive and set themselves free.  It’s a chance to have the family denied them.

On the surface, of course Julia and Neyla are culturally and religiously different. How they find their connection is the universal exception – music.  Singing together, dancing around the apartment they discover that they truly are like two keys on a piano residing in different places on the scale but never-the-less able to create harmony.  It brings them together.  Most times though blame, pain and resentment get in the way, preventing Julia and Neyla from reaching accord. Their father’s overbearing plan of creating a new makeshift family backfires. Julia and Neyla rebel and their deep-seated issues of abandonment rise to the surface.   Charlie was a soldier during the Iraqi war who fell in love with another woman, Neyla’s mother.  He left his American family to be “happy” with his Iraqi family leaving Julia with her mother and as she believes, with only her mother’s love. When he eventually is forced to depart Iraq he in turn leaves Neyla to her mother alone, in violent circumstances.  Charlie is living with a lot of guilt over both families.  His desire is to make things right.

Closely Related Keys is somewhat loosely scripted.  The story occasionally feels incomplete and could use a bit more development.  Given the time allotted however, the production is very well played and emotionally under played by every actor including Ron (Ted Mattison), Julia’s lawyer boyfriend and Tariq (Adam Meir) Neyla’s husband. The exception is the explosive lead actress Diarra Kilpatrick, who is edgy from the moment the lights come up. Ms. Kilpatrick brings a veritable nuclear-bomb-waiting-to-drop energy to every scene, forcefully moving this story along to its conclusion; and a refreshing dose of vibrant dramatic stage craft. There are not many surprises in the storyline. The circumstances are extraordinary, including the fact of this being a female driven production. A lot of what happens is expected. But there is plenty of heart and hope.

Closely Related Keys is very “human” – touching, painful, powerful.

Written by Wendy Graf
Directed by Shirley Jo Finney
Starring Yvonne HuffBrent JenningsDiarra KilpatrickTed MattisonAdam Meir
Produced by Racquel LehrmanTheatre Planners
Presented by Hatikva Productions
Set Design: Hana Kim
Lighting design: Donny Jackson
Original Music and Sound Design: Peter Bayne
Costume Design: Naila Aladdin Sanders
Stage Manager: Kathleen Jaffe

3 Performances Left:

Friday at 8 p.m. March 28
Saturdays at 8 p.m. March  29
Sundays  4 p.m. March 30

Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
(just east of Vine)

323-960-7774 or

Fridays and Sundays: $25
Saturdays: $30
Previews: $15

Photo Credit: Diarra Kilpatrick and Yvonne Huff.  Photo by Ed Krieger

Tartuffe at The Belfry Stage in North Hollywood


by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Theatre Unleashed has done it again: an uproarious version of the classic Moliere play, Tartuffe.  This theatre company’s season launch in association with Mad Magpie, is a treat for audiences who are notoriously opposed to classical theatre and those who actually love it. Were it not for the fact that Moliere is insane, restoration plays utterly, spitefully, wickedly, lovable and the cast hilarious, it would have to be said that language plays are not their “thing;”  and alas, the casting a bit unusual as is the Ranjit Bolt translation of the script.  However, there were some excellent, aggressively played scenes and cast member renditions.

Tartuffe is Moliere’s infamous tale about a religious fraud who has deceived his way throughout the halls of the wealthy all the way to his current benefactor, a naive Orgon (J. Anthony McCarthy), who is ready to award him his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Tartuffe (Phillip Kelly) has managed to cast his spell on son and mother, Madame Pernelle (Tracey Collins) who shout his praises from the rooftops, the salons, dining tables, churches and everywhere ordinary people are attempting to have normal pleasure.  It’s very annoying and has Orgon’s entire household up in arms, ready to revolt and as in Restoration style, naturally planning to do so.

It has been said that the character of Tartuffe was modeled after the husband of Duchess Mazarin, the Roman Eagle who’s uncle was the famous Cardinal Mazarin, Louis XIV’s overseer, guardian and unofficial ruler of France, in his young years. Hortense was Mazarin’s favorite niece and the richest woman in all of Europe at the time, richer even more than Louis, and courted by many of the kings of Europe including Charles II who asked for her hand, twice!  The Cardinal, however, on sympathy alone wedded his niece to an idiot relation; a rather poor cousin who was subject to downright fits of public propriety and most of the time dragged Hortense away from a glamorous life at court to pray for weeks on end in sack cloth and ashes, jail her in convents and generally curtail all fun until she could no longer could stomach the torture and escaped with several musketeers to freedom after a famous chase across the continent.

Luckily, that is not to be the fate of Orgon’s daughter, Mariane (Caroline Sharp); although it’s quite a close call none-the-less, but for some quick thinking on the part of Orgon’s steadfast wife, Elmire (Julia Plostnieks), keen wit and reasoning by Elmire’s brother, Cleante (Jim Martyka) and a “save” by the kicked aside but loyal amore in waiting to Mariane, Valere (Lee Pollero). And thankfully so, for Mariane’s brother/ althought played as a woman in a curious gender swtich, Damis (Corey Lynn Howe) who nearly blunders everything with his/her well-meaning but uncontrollable temper.

Without exception, two characters bring this performance to an unquestionable, lively frolic.  Dorine the Maid (Heather Lake ), infamously slutty, honest, wise, and proper all at once, is the energetic, insolent foil to Tartuffe in all of his droll, lethargically saccharin, public amen-ing, behind-the-scenes coveting and all out obsessive lusting for Orgon’s wife. It is a veritable showdown as to which one of them will outwit the other for control over Orgon’s sense and sympathy.  Both these actors utterly highlight the script and give audiences a way into the story that they can understand without trying too hard.  Both are respectively smartly entertaining and cunning, delivering frivolity, perspective and even gravity when necessary.

Good use of space including set design. Interesting direction.  It’s not brilliant but it all works and is certainly worth the ticket for a jolly good time! Managing Director Gregory Crafts makes a few timely and well noted appearances (how can he help it at well-over 6 feet tall – lol) as Flipote / Laurent / M. Loyal / Messenger in this production.

tartuffeNow Playing Until April 19th

At the Belfry Stage @ The Crown
11031 Camarillo Street
North Hollywood, CA 
Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 7:00 pm

Tickets: $20

Check the website for listings, tickets and other information.

Gia Reviews: A Steady Rain at the Odyssey Theatre

A Steady Rain_4

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Two Chicago police officers lead us, via an intimate broken fourth wall “duologue” presentation, through a web of intrigue to their demise on the force and a tragic end. It is a “steady rain” of one mistake, mishap, violent act and bad decision after another. The repercussions of each move pour down, continuously on these two childhood friends turned law enforcement professionals, sending them speedily to the rock bottom of a slippery slope.  A single drastic choice will raise one or the other out of a pit of hell.

Redemption comes at an exorbitant price. This very heavy drama is slithering with deceit, arrogance, corruption, confusion and skewed mental/emotional perception.  It is also ripe with tainted values. A Steady Rain,currently running at the Odyssey Theatre, offers an inside view of several lives gone abysmally and morally off the rails.

Joey played by Thomas Vincent Kelly, is a coward. He sits back and plays the “good guy” to the utter disfunction of his personal and professional relationship with his partner Denny.  He essentially allows the psychotic behavior of his friend, a man over-the-edge, to continue along its destructive course, ultimately for his own personal comfort. Joey is seemingly likable, but not really. Even at what appears to be his best or his most thoughtful, he’s never totally “up-front” with anyone.

Denny, played by Sal Viscuso, has lost himself fully to the crime drama of the streets past salvageability. Denny has become everything he’s been fighting against without the sense to recognize it. Even at his most brutal, it is possible to feel a certain amount of empathy for Denny. But at this point, it is difficult to tell if there ever was a good guy in there.  Denny desperately needs help.  He doesn’t get it.

What fits with this show is that both of these high-caliber actors, have appeared respectively in TV police/detective dramas such as Law & Order LA, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist and Law and Order SVU, adding a fair amount of believability to their respective character portrayals as homicide detectives.  What doesn’t entirely measure up is how it reads for stage.  The whole drama although incredibly well-done feels occasionally camera-ized and there was the subtlest lack of street cop body language.

The production itself is incredibly detailed and emotionally thrilling. All of the technical aspects of the show are perfectly placed. The performance by Viscuso is exacting in intensity and attitude.  But he often comes across more street punk – part and parcel of his moral descent.  Kelly also gives us an accurate portrayal of the slightly cynical, rationalizing “lifer” detective, although sometimes a bit too “pulled back”. If one has any experience with the real thing, comparing reality versus stage, there are distinct physical behavioral qualities that resonate, at least to a more informed eye. These two gentlemen could have more weight.

Audiences however, will not be deep diving, will be completely mesmerized by this tragic story and will come away with their own set of moral questions, as they should.  A Steady Rain is a fine example of thoroughly well-written and well-executed stage production. Viscuso and Kelly are otherwise brilliant.

Written by Keith Huff
Directed by Jeff Perry
Starring Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso
Produced by Beth Hogan
Presented by the Odyssey Theatre EnsembleRon Sossi Artistic Director

A Steady Rain_ART-medNow playing through April 20
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: April 2 ONLY

Thursdays at 8 p.m.: March 27 and April 17 ONLY

Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 21, 28; April 4, 18 (dark April 11

Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 22, 29; April 5, 19 (dark April 12)

Sundays at 2 p.m.: March 23, 30; April 6, 20 (dark April 13)

Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025

For More Information and To Purchase Tickets
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or

Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: $25
Saturdays and Sundays: $30
Pay-what-you-can performances: March 21 (wine night), April 2

Gia Reviews: Derby Day at The Elephant Theatre

Derby Day,   Robert M. Foster “Frank”, Malcolm Madera “Ned” and Jake Silbermann “Johnny” (L-R)

Win  Place  Show

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Dad’s dead and it’s Derby Day at the Oaklawn Racing Festival. Let’s not celebrate his life or his death.  Bury the bastard and get drunk instead. Three hard knocks brothers face off at the race track unceremoniously – directly after their father’s brief funeral.

Destructive on every level and entirely awash in beer is how one might describe this production. Aside from the ridiculous comments that any single moment this play could produce, there are two very dramatic themes.  Violence and Lost Dreams.  Ouch.  It’s a verbal, physical, yank-your-chain screamer. And according to the writer/director Samuel Brett Williams, it’s totally Americana, one we don’t often see.

Well, thank goodness for that.  Because sure it’s all funny, insanely funny if you want to know.  But you don’t have to dig too deep to uncover the horrific lives these three “boys to [almost] men” (whose births place them in the “allegedly related” category, according to whose story you would like to believe), have endured, to end up the all-out degenerates that they have become.

If I had to call it, and well, I guess I do, I’d say that overall there is not much likable about them. They are irreparably tragic.

Frank (Robert M. Foster), Ned (Malcolm Madera) and Johnny (Jake Silbermann) certainly make us laugh on a South Park level with their cruelly self-destructive, out of control, behavior as they banter and bully each other with the details of their marriages, prison experiences, adultery, children, divorces, parental misfortunes, questionable lineage and money. They even have the ability to occasionally charm, in a very superficial way. But ultimately, everything about them is scraped to the bone. They’ve each traded in their respective dreams for the illusion of being a winner which, on this day, is via a private betting box and the possibility of a horse that “comes in” big. Each one of them is a failure, a has-been and a deadbeat without hope whatsoever for a fresh start; not even in their current delusion which fades as quickly as the day. Not one them is able to grab hold of that illusive “if only” thing that will make it all right.

On the surface, the play is as a mess as the rented room post colossal Ballard Boy binge as they taunt, argue, wrestle, and slap each other around, including waitress Becky (Kimberly Alexander). They threaten, and bloody themselves, the furniture, the walls and everything else within range. Underneath all three know they are trapped. This is the best they’ll ever be.  “Ballards don’t quit nothin’!” But they do.  They quit themselves.

Derby DayWhat we come to learn over the course of the day is at least the cause. Their shared hatred or love for mostly their alcoholic depressed father who was violently abusive to the two younger brothers after eldest Frank left the scene at a young age; and a dismissiveness for a mother who didn’t do much for them either, least of all protect them from their father. The scene that takes place on this particular day is nothing more than an ongoing repeat of past episodes, doomed to a never-ending cycle. They will always be losers.

What is difficult about this play is the unavoidable ongoing mayhem of the stage direction. It fully and rightly elucidates this script but also becomes a distraction to the emotional moments; which in the case of the brothers is a useful tool for avoiding what is really needed here — real empathy, understanding, self-respect.  The purview of the entire play is limited to the brothers’ “acting out.”  And also, what is “expected” – happens.

It is expected that things will go from bad to worse and they do. It is expected that Becky will be the proverbial soccer ball getting kicked around even though she initially, apprehensively believes that at least one of these guys is worth her time.  And expectedly she is pushed right down to the ground, insulted and degraded even while attempting to be kind, understanding, cool and professional.  Ultimately, in Derby Day, nothing revelatory gets said. But we do certainly get an inside view and there are fleeting moments of spontaneous bonding that make you route for them, but not much.

What is amazing about this production are the four uniquely talented actors that bring this dizzying script to life.  Robert M. Foster, Malcolm Madera and Jake Silbermann throw down show-stopping performances.  Each one of these gentlemen inserts himself so well into that familiar semblance of eldest, middle child, baby, all the while, completely fulfilling their singular character descriptions, behaviors, physicalities and peculiarities. These guys being “guys” were great!

Kimberly Alexander had the toughest role to play as the only female character in a male driven production. However, Ms. Alexander more than measured up and managed to hold her own against all three men delivering a very strong performance!

Derby Day although not completely satisfying, is still worth seeing.  This play is a Trifecta in disaster. You will leave stunned.

Photo credit: Alex Moy

Derby Day

Derby DayNow Playing until Sunday, Mar 23
Thurs, Fri, Sat, 8 pm
Show Calendar


Running time: 80 minutes.

Elephant Stages – Elephant Theatre
6322 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA  90038
Ample Street Parking
Area Map

What’s for Thursday? Fun, Follies and Frumenti at the Next Door Lounge. But…pssst…It’s a Secret!


next door 3

If you want to get into one of Hollywood’s most deliciously secretive hide-aways, you’ll remember that  password — and gentlemen, “Take off your hat!” Or you won’t get past the valet at the door.

In celebration of old-time “Gatsby” style (and yes we mean the movie, but I’m sorry Leo isn’t always there. lol), The Next Door Lounge on Highland at Lexington Avenue has introduced several new features sure to whet your appetite for decadence.

The dames of LA FOLLIES – Los Angeles’ premiere precision kick line and cabaret ensemble – has taken up the award-winning Next Door Lounge as their very first residency.  The dames are performing exclusively at NDL every Thursday in 2014.  The gals will be cutting a rug to the likes of “Razzle Dazzle”, “Hey Big Spender”, and other 20’s tunes mixed with a modern-day swagger, donning fans, canes, and those signature gams of theirs.  There is no cover charge to get in, so you can enjoy signature cocktails with a great show.

“The Dames Are the Most Serious High-Kicking Over-Achievers on the LA Dance Scene! Gorgeous!” ~Gia On The Move

I’m told that if you mention the secret catch phrase at the top of this article, to their Dapper Doorman you’ll be ale to cash in a glass of champagne for 10 cents!

Next door lounge

Cognoscente appeal:

Gia On The Move sampled a generous taste of perfection – in-house master distilled Rye (our personal favorite and two thumbs up recommendation) and Bourbon. If whiskey or cognac is your drink, there will be no fizzles here either…all neatly complimented by a limited food menu.

But there’s more…a “MASTER CLASS” series will be taking place, each month and will focus on a specific spirit to further display NDL’s vast knowledge of each spirit category.   In addition to the MASTER CLASS, NDL will also offer a flight of the featured spirit throughout the respective month. For loyal followers and cocktail connoisseurs alike.

The MASTER CLASS will include:

  • One designated Wednesday each month, NDL head barman Zac Henry will host an interactive and educational tasting of the month’s featured spirit;  discuss its origins and distillation process.
  • Lead guests through a flight tasting of 4+ brands of the featured spirit
  • Feature one cocktail containing the featured spirit to show off its versatility and NDL’s knowledge of mixology
  • Food will be provided
  • Price per seat: $30+ (depending on featured brands)

MASTER CLASS 2014 Schedule

March - Whiskey & Craft Beer

April - Rum

May - Tequila

June - Gin

July - American Whiskeys


March 21
“Whiskeys of the World”

  • Bulleit Rye
  • Bushmills 10 Year
  • Johnnie Walker Double Black
  • Oban 14 Year

March 28
“North American Whiskeys”

  • Bulleit Bourbon
  • Bulleit Rye
  • George Dickel #12
  • Crown Royal Cask 16

March 7 and April 4
“Blended Scotches”

  • Johnnie Walker Green
  • Johnnie Walker Gold
  • Buchanan’s Master Blended
  • Old Parr 12 Year

March 14 and April 11
“Single Malt Scotches”

  • Laguvulin 16 Year
  • Talisker 10 Year
  • Oban 14 Year
  • Craggenmore 12 Year


Music Monday Double Header: Rory Partin – “That Boy Good!”

Rory Partin

It was a grand party in true “big band” style at Santa Monica Airport’s famous local hotspot Typhoon!  Rory Partin was on the scene several weeks ago, with music in his heart, passionate lyrics on his lips and an ardent adoration of the classics.

Rory’s biggest confession of the evening — he loved singing as a kid.  “We’re so NOT surprised!” No sparkles or glitter required or needed.  Mr. Partin cooly crooned the greats, Sinatra, Bublé and his all time biggest influence and favorite – Ray Charles, also covering songs like, Mac the Knife, Route 66It Had To Be You and The Way You Look Tonight.  But it was Jambalaya, originally sung by Hank Williams that brought our boy home to his roots and the house to its feet for a true “hit of the night” celebration.  A more than 14 piece band topped off this performance.  They weren’t his regulars but you’d never know it.  The blend was incredible!

Hear Rory Again LIVE at the Hotel Cafe Los Angeles, CA, tomorrow night, Tuesday, March 4th!

The ROAMies
Rory is only one part of the Pop / Folk Duo known as The ROAMies where he performs with his Mrs.
Born out of audience response to the chemistry of husband and wife team Rory Partin and Alexa James, L.A.-based duo The ROAMies combine pop, country, and Americana influences into “a lovely and captivating duet of harmony and contradiction” ( Partin, who was born and raised in Louisiana, will be channeling the festive spirit of the New Orleans carnival season when The ROAMies take the stage at Hotel Cafe on Mardi Gras.
Sounding like a concoction of The Civil Wars, Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz, The ROAMies promise to build anticipation for their forthcoming debut EP with their soulful vocals, eclectic acoustic instrumentation, and some Fat Tuesday surprises.