Category Archives: Theatre

Mirror Mirror the Musical

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Movemirror mirror the musical

mirror mirror on the wall… 

It wasn’t particularly plausible even for a fairy tale, that is, if you are dealing with fairy tales in their most traditional sense – with reality.  Its foremost feature being a young girl who supposedly, living in the modern age, never sees herself in any sort of reflection ever. Is that even possible?  Mandi Gottadolla has the perfect life. The adopted daughter of millionaire moguls, Mandi’s been sheltered from the world’s harsh realities, and has never seen pain, suffering, poverty — or even her own face! 

As a satire the writing wasn’t astonishingly new – the moments, interest points, stage directions and choreography down to the last exit, tread dangerously close to formulaic. 

Ultimately, there are no real highs or lows, no grandiose arc. In fact, the experience with this show is heavily reminiscent of clean, tween tv/chick flick melodrama – captivating, enchanting, appropriately bold in all the right places, yet skirting tenderly around the important issues, not digging too deep, so as not to offend.

“Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Manhattan, there lived a socialite named Mandi. Blonde, beautiful, and unbelievably rich, this paparazzi princess led a fairytale life. But alas! Unbeknownst to Mandi, she had been living under the spell of a terrible White lie. And her world was about to come tumbling down…”

With all that could be pointed to as “not quite”, there is something to be said for trying to create an off-handed parody that talks about identity, identity crisis and racism, jostling around inside the comic nuances of friendship, loyalty, love and self-love

Growing up (actually as well as metaphorically) is so confusing all the time.  In this tale everyone is in angst about the truth.  All for good reason.  It’s hard to know how to think, feel, act, even when you’re pretty sure about what’s right or wrong.  And when faced with the choice of accepting who you are or living in the fantasy of what others tell you, inside the realm of this coming-of-age story, Mirror Mirror the Musical does have a very real question to posit, a genuinely important idea to ruminate upon and a response that is positively essential to act out.  It just needs, however a tiny bit more work. 

Rather than pull together in a completely cohesive line, Mirror Mirror tends to float around a multitude of couched ideas and bits, all at once, so that it is sometimes hard to know exactly what is trying to be said. 

In an earlier, shorter version produced at this year’s 2015 Hollywood Fringe, it is easy to imagine this show, being a stunning hit. Lot’s of quipy lines, fewer pauses, a stunning array of costume and a happy ending for Mirror Mirror’s leading lady.  There is zero pique in this delightfully silly story which, frankly has one of the most “kick ass” original musical scores heard in recent days sung mostly by powerhouse talent Ashley Lynette Brown who quite radiantly plays Amanda Gottadolla.

It’s been a long journey for writer/producer November Christine, in her quest to mount her first fully formed theatrical production and it has not been without success.  But what’s a little longer for the sake of (needed) tweaking this entirely appealing gem, tightening up the running time and giving it another “once over” for impact, is all I say.

This show is now closed.
Mirror, Mirror recently premiered at L.A.’s Chromolume Theatre at The Attic.

Cake Batter’s 2nd Annual Funny Women Festival Returns to Hollywood

I.O. West, Cake Batter, Women in comedy

The all-­female comedy festival will once again be held at iO West in Hollywood, Wednesday, December 2 through Saturday, December 5, 2015.

Attendees will be treated to celebrity panel discussions, Q&A’s from the industry’s leading female professionals, and of course, comedy shows in all forms.

The renowned iO West theater will host the festival on all 3 stages during the 4­day run. The festival will include approximately 120 shows, showcase more than 300 performers from around the country, and offerworkshops, panels, and special events led by industry professionals.

Follow I.O. West on Twitter:  @iOWest

#FWFLA  #iOWest 

Created by sketch comedy group, Cake Batter, comprised of Lauren Frost, Angela Rysk, and Erin Miller Williams, Funny Women Festival, or FWF, was created to celebrate women in comedy and to promote community and opportunity for females in the industry.  FWF was also supported by some of comedy’s biggest names including WifeyTV, Funny or Die, and Buzzfeed.

“Our goal is to provide a setting for women in comedy to not only perform, but to get to know each other and inspire each other through their work.” says co­-producer Lauren Frost.

“Yea, it’s pretty simple.” continues Erin Miller Williams “There’s a lot of talented women in this city and we want to throw a big old party to celebrate them.”

James Grace, general manager at iO West adds, “We are proud to support the surge of women in comedy and provide the stage to showcase women that will frame the new face of this art form.”

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to Funny Women Festival’s beneficiary, the Downtown Women’s Center located in Los Angeles.

For more information and to apply, visit­women­festival/

Applications will be accepted through October 9th.

cake batter funny women festival, IO West, comedy


ABOUT CAKE BATTER Cake Batter is Lauren Frost, Angela Rysk, and Erin Miller Williams; three women hailing from three different parts of the country who found each other in Los Angeles and liked each other so much they formed a sketch group. Creators of Funny Women Festival and graduates of Second City Hollywood and Upright Citizens Brigade, the girls are figuring out adulthood through comedy. While their peers are getting married and having babies, they’re performing shows at the Comedy Central Stage, iO West and UCB… because who needs a mortgage when you have an award winning sketch show? Cake Batter was featured at the Chicago Sketch Festival (2015 & 2014), finalists in the LA Scripted Comedy Festival (2014), named Best Scripted Show at the Del Close Awards (2013), and Sketch Cage Match Champions at the LA Improv Festival (2013). ABOUT IO WEST IO (formerly Improv Olympic) is a world famous long­form Improv­comedy theater with branches in both Los Angeles and Chicago. Celebrities such as Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Eric Stonestreet, and Amy Poehler have studied and performed here. The iO West Theater has been, and continues to be, the home for some of the most popular comedic shows in Los Angeles for over almost two decades and offers a full training center for improv and writing classes. iO West features a full bar, nightly shows and year round classes.

Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse is a Hollyweird Treat

Reviewed by Marc Wheeler

ghoumaster, theatre, theatre reviews

Hollyweird gets a sweet lick of a glitter-coated nightmare in “Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse,” the wonderwork of Ghoulmaster himself, Pete Carter, and his ragtag band of misfits now haunting the halls of the Hudson Theatres.

Fresh on the heels (make that platform boots) of an annual stint at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest where “Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts” gave Jersey theme park attendees a flashy Halloween spectacle, Ghoulmaster now brings his new World Premiere theatrical lovechild — the seeming spawn of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and “The Rocky Horror Show” — to an intimate staged setting, making his bumps-in-the-night mounting quite an impressive, over-the-top feat.

The plot is minimal. Ghoulmaster, an androgynous Marilyn Manson-esque goth-rocker, and his ghoulish friends kill time in their creepy, cobweb-laced Victorian mansion awaiting the arrival of a piece of mail which contains the written recipe for a magical formula that’s said to bring forth the thrilling terror of Halloween worldwide. Yes, dear friends, Halloween’s apparently in jeopardy this year now that the Ghoulmaster-entrusted, holiday-conjuring vile of potion that normally brings tidings of good fear has dripped its last drops.

Stretched over 90 minutes, “Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse” is an uneven, though mostly entertaining, brew. Original glam-rock dance songs set to fierce and sultry choreography (clear tributes to Michael Jackson and Britney Spears) are true highlights of the show. Anti-bullying messages of empowerment (as rapped in the verse ”You say I’m a faggot, as if that’s a bad thing”) embolden audiences to be their authentic, if freak-flag-flying, selves. Likewise, a lavish set, lighting and sound design mixed with a spectacular array of costumes (top hats, corsets and skintight leather abound) enhanced with stunning make-up make this blood-stained circus a delectable feast for the senses.

Performances range from mediocre to affecting, with Luca Nicora’s creepy butler Grimwall and Charles Convery’s increasingly-postal, hilarious Mailman being notable supporting standouts. Sarah Wines, Lauren Avon, Bre Lyle, Heather Mackay, Sarah Louise, Devin Freeman, Joanne Pollitt Evans and Sam Centrella round the cast as dancing sex-kittens and ill-fated ghouls whose varied acting-chopped performances shine brightest — make that darkest, ye creatures of the night — during the many high-energy dance sequences. Carter’s gratifying Ghoulmaster is often hypnotic and entrancing when his script is at its most compelling.

Concurrently, uninspired scenes featuring unnecessary backstories and aimless dialogue all too often slow the momentum of an otherwise trick-or-treat-filled extravaganza. Sporadic attempts at comedy unfortunately land more duds than zingers upping the groan-to-laughter ratio (an elongated bit about not wanting to lend out a prized piano because “I ain’t no organ donor” being a fitting example), though laugh-out-loud moments fortunately survive. With unrefined ingredients clouding the cauldron, a possible trimming or reworking could help hone Ghoulmaster’s ambitious vision which currently remains a bit unclear. That being said, there’s more than enough to enjoy in this audacious, outré soufflé of freakish, nightmarish merriment.

“Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse” is written and directed by Pete Carter (”Ghoulmaster”) and Charles Convery, with production by 1984 Entertainment, LLC. Grant Goldsmith is stage manager. Charles Convery is scenic designer. Laney Chantal White is make-up artist. Santino Noir, Teddy Blackmore, Brett Line, PJ9K and Mike Douaire provide original score.

If you like your Halloween laced with nostalgic, kitschy kink, this commendable curiosity is worth the look-see. Be sure to “dress to depress,” leave the lil’ ghouls at home and have a phantasmic time!

Now Playing
September 25 – October 31, 2015
Fridays and Saturdays – 8 PM
Sundays – 7 PM
Running Time:
90 minutes
Hudson Mainstage Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
$25 online/phone, $30 at door
Dress Code:
Costumes (though not mandatory) are highly encouraged. Best Dressed wins an exclusive Haunted Playhouse t-shirt.
Learn more about Ghoulmaster:

Candide Takes a Ride at Sacred Fools

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Sacred Fools, Candide, plays

Scott Golden and David LM McIntyre in Jon Jory’s adaptation of Candide at Sacred Fools

“Must despair be my only companion?”

Jon Jory’s new adaptation of Voltaire’s signature novella, Candide, launches Sacred Fools’ 19th season, with lead actor Scott Golden as the eternal naif and a supporting cast of six, inhabiting dozens of roles in a heroic journey for intimate stage.

Jory’s alteration is a minimalist concept, envisioned with a much more “bare” set and simple storytelling compared to much of what has been showcased of late at Sacred Fools. The truly imaginative aspects are rendered within the characters and the actors who play them exquisitely.  The usual “Fools” imprimatur is covered here throughout the comedy with plenty of gags and non-sequiturs that never fall flat.  Emotionally, though, it is empty. And although entertaining enough, doesn’t necessarily cover new ground.

There is danger (which isn’t particularly dangerous), betrayal (which didn’t seem so bad), and injustice (but then new hope always prevails), in pursuit of love (he gets the girl in the end, but there’s catch) treasure (which he keeps giving away!) and despicable pleasures (we would have definitely liked to have seen more of that).  For Candide it really sucks being an optimist.

For anyone who is not familiar with the story (or the Sondheim updated version of the Bernstein original musical) of this play, it is a subversive and unpredictably humorous satire – bawdy, absurd, playful, often sarcastic and somewhat moralistic.  The piece was born through the actual experiences of François-Marie Arouet, later known as Voltaire, who grew up in a time when Louis XIV was king of France, the vast majority of people in France lived in crushing poverty, and the French aristocracy ruled with an iron fist. By the mid 1700s, Voltaire grew increasingly appalled by the specters of injustice, and inexplicable disaster that he saw around him. Many terrible events influenced his composition of Candide including a disastrous earthquake in Lisbon in 1755; the outbreak of the gruesome Seven Years’ War in 1756; and the unjust execution of the English Admiral John Byng in 1757.

Candide rides a guileless wave that scrapes through the underbelly of life and although not in any way arrives or leaves unscathed, manages to survive the horrors of poverty, misshapen adventure, death, scandal, blind love and disappointment in what he believes is the essential goodness in humanity.  Candide gives freely but is regularly rewarded with sordid acts and slimy morals of too many characters who take advantage of him.  And yet he continues to “give” putting the act of goodness and rightness above all rather than succumbing to the gutter.

What is outstanding on every level are the indefatigable, and impeccably hilarious performances by the entire cast especially Kalinda Gray and David LM McIntyre who drive the extremes of the story. An absolutely honest, light-hearted and un-fabricated Golden subtly holds the show to its ever wide-eyed finale. 

Highly creative and colorful costume design completely enhanced the program (especially for the ladies).

Jon Jory’s Candide is a very plain comedy which hits the intellectual mark.

“Do you still believe the world is fair?”

“All for the best.”

#CandideLA @SacredFools

Directed by Paul Plunkett

Produced by Danielle Ozymandias, Richard Levinson and Jaime AndrewsMusic by Ryan Johnson

Featuring Scott Golden as Candide along with Kalinda Gray, Cynthia Beckert, Christopher Salazar, David LM McIntyre and Paul Turbiak.

Set Design: Tifanie McQueen

Costumes: Jennifer deRosa
Props: Linas Anne Nicolai
Sound: Pul Plunkett

Now Playing until October 17th
Friday and Saturday at 8pm
Sund shows Oct 4th and 11th at 7pm
Tickets $25
Visit or call 310-281-8337
Tickets also available nightly at the door.

“Hooked” at the Los Angeles Theater Festival

reviewed by Marc Wheeler
Hooked's Sasha Higgins and Seth Lee. Photo credit: William Converse.

Hooked’s Sasha Higgins and Seth Lee. Photo credit: William Converse.

Jillian Leigh’s “Hooked,” now receiving its World Premiere as part of the inaugural season of the Los Angeles Theater Festival, offers many ingredients that can make for a compelling, if gritty and disturbing, evening of theater — prostitution, violence and cyclical sexual abuse. Unfortunately, two-dimensional characters, a paper-thin plot and minimal production design are likely to leave audiences of “Hooked”… anything but.

It’s 1988 in Lower Manhattan during the Tompkins Square Park Riots. Fourteen-year-old Joe (Seth Lee) is alone in the dingy apartment in which he and his negligent mother squat. In blows Kim (the British-tongued Sasha Higgins) — or “Mac” as she’s sometimes referred — to escape the turbulence outside. Sporting laced-leggings, a denim miniskirt and a shiner on her forehead to compliment her smudged mascara, Kim is Joe’s mother’s strung-out girlfriend who regularly exchanges sex for survival. The child and prostitute spend the next 20 minutes discussing junkies, art and the moon, as well as Joe’s quaint recollections of Kim’s sexual conquests (“remember that guy who wanted you to eat his ass…”) before Kim tells little Joe of his mother’s desire to abandon him. The boy reactively confesses his affection for our heroin-filled-heroine and begs his mother’s lover for a taste of the “spoonful of sugar and spoonful of dirt” she brags “hooks them every time.” “I’m yours ‘til morning” she replies, and off into the storm-clouded sunset they stumble.

Cut to Act II and in a seedy motel room a stripped-down, modern-day Joe (Rodney Eastman) straddles lingerie-clad hooker Alex (playwright Jillian Leigh). With iPhone in hand, he engages his mistress in sex-tape foreplay as she alternately resists and resigns. As the hour unfolds, Alex confronts her whiskey-breathed John about the secrets he harbors. As traumas get exposed, it’s clear that damaged pasts are now damaged presents, making a happy ending far from sight.

Directed by Terri Treas, “Hooked” is ultimately a missed opportunity to adequately explore such weighty subject matters of underage sex, neglect and abusive relationships. Performances throughout are rather ineffective and unmotivated, though inconsequential dialogue and an aimless, unbelievable script regrettably encumber their potential for success. Set design by Paul Howle appears shoddy, uninspired and unnecessarily confusing when a prominently-featured, sentimentally-charged lamp and painting in Act I’s apartment unrealistically reemerge decades later in Act II’s motel room. Costumes by Wendy Craig are period appropriate and sufficient. Lighting design by Christie Conochalla is simple, though spotlight troubles need remedied. Sound design by Post Haste Sound is adequate.

Michael Zand is Producer and Dramaturge. Blue Brooks is Producer.

While the Los Angeles Theater Festival is an admirable new venture giving theatrical artists opportunities to experiment and play, it also carries the risks inherent in unknown productions often lacking in budget and prestige getting showcased. “Hooked” is such an example of a curious, intriguing idea in dire need of a fully-formed premise, fleshed-out characters and polished production design.

Hooked on the concept, not the execution — “Hooked” simply leaves us hanging.

Now playing through September 25th, 2015
The Ruby Theatre at The Complex
6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Showtimes: 7:30 PM
Running time: 70 minutes (includes intermission)
Los Angeles Theater Festival:
Runs September 4th – October 11th, 2015

Shakespeare’s Last Night Out at Three Clubs on Vine

Shakespeare's Last Night Out, Michael Shaw Fisher

Michael Shaw Fisher as William Shakespeare. Photo by David Haverty

“Thou must, in this pregnant hour, with haste and wit, and whilst thou hast advantage, get thee to London (or at least to a bigger venue)!  Else content thyself with churlish critics and render bootless thy wordly strength. Dispatch!”

If ever there has been an intimate rendering of the bard, Michael Shaw Fisher’s (Orgasmico Theatre Company) original solo performance, “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out” is a definitive, musical, interactive discourse, from the mouth of the worlds most renowned playwright in his final hours. 

Legend has it that Shakespeare expired from a fever after a night of drinking. In “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out” the Bard of Avon defends his authorship, details personal, life-shaping family milestones, recounts unknown events and characters, and periscopes his bawdy career beginning from early days as a young boy at school fascinated with story and mask.

Sonneting glove making references inside his father’s shop into some of the most beautiful lines of text in his most famous plays, he exalts ignoble hilarity, the importance and pure joy of his art, and kinships and crossed paths with other acclaimed players during one of history’s most celebrated and dangerous centuries of poetry and stage. It is indeed a bawdy journey of song, serenade and deeply heartfelt regret as well as fierce retrospective.

Michael Shaw Fisher’s delivery is more than mere characterization, he is a near apotheosis of our beloved Will yet “most plain”.  Fisher gives us a highly moving, distinctive portrait of a dreamer/actor/writer who was simply a man.

Impressive multi-instrument, musical accompaniment by Allison Faith Shulock with also Gordon Wimpress on guitar.  Directed by Jeff Sumner. Written and performed by Michael Shaw Fisher.

Now Playing until November 1, 2015 at 

Three Clubs (Three Clubs Stage Room) 1123 N. Vine St, Los Angeles, CA

Follow this show on Facebook.

Tickets at:



FRI September 18th 8pm
SUN September 20th 5pm (***Under age 21 admitted)
FRI September 25th 8pm
SUN September 27 6pm
FRI October 2nd 8pm
SUN October 4th 5pm (***Under age 21 admitted)
FRI October 9th 8pm
SUN October 11th 6pm
FRI October 16th 8pm
SUN November 1st 6pm

Sibling Rivalry at the Lounge Theatre Hollywood

Reviewed by Marc Wheeler
Sibling Rivalry, Lone Star, KKMWJ Productions , The Aquila Morong Studio, theatre, review

Taylor Handley and Wes McGee in Lone Star at the Lounge Theatre

“Brother and sister together we’ll make it through.” — “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” by Rozalla

Brothers and sisters are put to the test in “Sibling Rivalry,” a pair of slice-of-life one-acts directed by Troy Ruptash that examine whether love overcomes when kinship is kindled or if stoking a fire with too much truth can send familial relationships up in flames.

First off we meet similarly-named brothers Roy (Taylor Handley at performance reviewed; Mercer Boffey plays alternate) and Ray (Wes McGee) in James McLure’s “Lone Star.” The year is 1972 and Vietnam veteran Roy is two years back from service and about two hours from blacking out. Sitting in a lot behind a dingy bar in Maynard, Texas, a drunken Roy wishes upon a star for the life he remembers — a life free from mental atrocities, where simple comforts like his wife, his beloved 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible and a few swigs of Lone Star beer are all he needs for solace. Out walks Ray, his younger autistic brother, to check up on him and his current state of intoxication. After a few snaps Ray observes “War made you mean.” “I was always mean,” Roy replies.

They discuss life and its pleasures like cars and girls, interact with the sexually-frustrated, local simpleton Cletis (a deliciously comedic Joe Massingill), then venture off into the minefield of Roy’s mind when he coerces his hypersensitive brother to help him re-enact his brutal experiences in battle, a scene whose horrors only enhance its laugh-out-loud humor until Ray says “I don’t like playing Vietnam, Roy” and brings us back to reality. It’s this dynamic between the demon-haunted James Dean cowboy Roy (a troubled, charming Taylor Handley) and his compassionate, on-the-spectrum, puppy dog little brother Ray (a heartbreaking, hilarious, you-just-wanna-hug-him standout Wes McGee) that makes this one-act well-worth seeing. And while plot definitely takes the backseat to tortured-soul character study, secrets do explode in this profound and moving gem “Lone Star.”

Next up, the girls.

Rosemary with Ginger, Sibling Rivalry, Lounge Theatre

Kim Hamilton and Kirsta Peterson in Rosemary with Ginger at the Lounge Theatre

Ginger (Kim Hamilton) and Rosemary (Kirsta Peterson) are two 1990s sisters who meet in the Rhode Island diner Ginger is about to close for good to make room in her life for more — a “more” that is soon to be revealed (brace yourself, sister) in Edward Allen Baker’s “Rosemary with Ginger.” It all starts when Ginger calls in her sister to help brainstorm and write an essay about the life of their mother, an essay that could win the matriarch a $500 gift certificate. The question is what about their mom is deserving of said prize, particularly when their childhood recollections reveal an abusive past that may not land well with the Shopper’s World judges. Meanwhile, their own romantic relationships have gone sour and Rose’s return to alcohol causes more-than-slight disturbances in the ties that bind her.

The weaker of the two one-acts, “Rosemary with Ginger” plays a bit too heavy on melodrama — to the point it even curiously calls itself out on it — and leaves some loose ends untied. That being said, the performances contained in this piece are quite spectacular to behold and more than balance any imperfections in the plot. Kim Hamilton shines with vulnerability and might as Ginger, a woman who must find the strength amidst her current marital strife to tower her beloved, more popular sister who’s simply gone too far off the wagon. Kirsta Peterson plays the abrasive powerhouse that is Rose with a tear-dripping finesse required of a woman whose cracked veneer reveals the hollow and damaged interior we’d expect from a human pinball in life’s unfair machine.

Set design by Timothy Pacaldo is quite effective and pronounced in this intimate space, transforming beautifully between backwoods bar exterior to quaint, greasy spoon diner. Erica Lawrence’s lighting and sound design (with additional sound and music design by Troy Ruptash) is equally serviceable, with slow visual fades and fully played-out atmospheric tracks that give characters room to breath in their often claustrophobic little worlds. Costumes, though uncredited, are also on-point. Ashley Clark is stage manager. Sandra Kuker is publicist. Producer is KKMWJ Productions in association with The Aquila Morong Studio.

The unique bonds between siblings rival many others, most notably for their longevity and history. The friction that often comes with their intimacy, however, can smooth even the roughest of edges when rubbed successfully. “Sibling Rivalry” is a satisfying exploration of these relationships ever-so-romanticized in the famous Bobby Scott and Bob Russell song lyrics “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” and give testament to the enduring power of family.

Now Playing

September 5th-27th, 2015
Fridays and Saturdays – 8PM
Sundays – 7PM (Additional performance September 27th – 3PM)

The Lounge Theatre – Theatre 2
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Running time: 90 minutes (with one 15-minute intermission)