It’s A Hit, It’s A Hit, It’s A Hit! – Merrily We Roll Along at The Wallis

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

gia on the move theater reviews los angeles

Spilt milk, sour grapes and friendships down the drain. Who would have thought that the most sobering musical ending the year could also turn out to be one of the most satisfying.

Audiences just didn’t understand it back in 1981; the opposite linear format of telling a story backwards, or the need to be so depressing. The Broadway production, then directed by Harold Prince, opened to mostly negative reviews, although Sondheim’s score was widely praised. Critics and audiences alike felt it possibly circuitous and the themes left a sour taste in their mouths. And who wanted sit through a recounting of a person’s failures anyway, right?

But life is not a straight line and the road to the top is as jagged as a meat cutter. And when you ‘arrive’, there’s a very good chance you’ll be the only one who’s made it. In Frank Shepard’s case, “It’s lonely at the top” isn’t so much a catch phrase as it is an excruciating reality.

But the story of how he got there is what oddly is soothing and terribly sad.

Merrily We Roll Along is a musical with a book by George Furth and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. It is based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

The story rolls back over 20 years of the life of Franklin Shepard, once a talented, penniless composer of Broadway musicals, who has now abandoned his friends and his songwriting career to become a wealthy producer of Hollywood movies. Merrily We Roll Along curates the key moments in Frank’s life which point precisely to how he got there and what he gave up (ahem…a lot).

Directed by Michael Arden, what might have been a downer years ago, is now refreshed by no less than Arden’s signature dynamics. The play has air. And choreographed by Eamon Foley it is physically patterned much like a dance, where the chore reveals the leading man after abandoning his love, returning to find that she is dead and he is left to wallow in his own grief.

The performances by the entire cast are so wonderfully naturalistic as they are set in the 70’s. There are more than a few stellar moments in this show notably and especially by Wayne Brady who plays lead character and colleague/friend of Frank, Charley Kringas as well as the leading man himself. Aaron Lazar (Franklin Shepard) delivers a completely likeable Shepard throughout the journey even through the hurtful, neglectful moments. Donna Vivino as Shepard’s other best friend Mary Flynn is so down to earth that even in the crazy there is no lack of empathy. Whitney Bashor as Beth Spenser, Shepard’s wife, adds an interesting perspective after that of Kringas and calls up the question, “Who’s fault really is the dissolution of friendships?”.

Really, though, Merrily We Roll Along, in every way is a hit.

The Play About The Baby is Dangerous and Gorgeous

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

gia on the move theatre reviews

“If you don’t have wounds, how can you know you’re alive?”

Strange and vast was the mind of playwright Edward Albee as referenced in The Road Theater’s current version of  The Play About The Baby directed to perfection by Andre Barron.

An illusory, complex story on the surface, the play takes the audience down a fundamental path about the deeply painful experience of loss of innocence and immaturity while awakening to suffering, pain, survival and ultimately – the greatest reward of having gone through it all – life.

It’s a giant, all encompassing theme that Albee’s play boldly and deeply addresses through bizarre comedies and intricate precisely manufactured games. Granted permission by the playwright himself to The Road Theatre, Barron moves this play down simultaneous, surreal, sinister and hilarious places.

In The Play About The Baby, we witness a young couple, set in a sort of “Garden of Eden” with only their love for one another to express and explore…until a man and a woman tell the couple that they are here to take their baby and subsequently seek to convince the boy and girl that there was no baby at all.

The couple’s journey is dark and beautiful and startling as it is absurd and even soothing, expressing utterly, the power of human existence.

The Play About The Baby is a gorgeous, dangerous experience, equally performed to excellence by the entire cast, Allison Blaize (Girl), Philip Orazio (Boy), Sam Anderson (Man) and Taylor Gilbert (Woman).

It is hands down one of The Road Theatre’s most extraordinary productions.

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving, gia on the move

Early View of the MIT Technology Review

holiday gift guideIt’s here…the 2016 MIT Technology Review Holiday Gift Guide!

This won’t be officially on their site until Thanksgiving. But Gia On The Move is one of the few to get this early. So we thought you’d appreciate the opportunity to go into Black Friday ready to shop.

These are the best gifts a techie could receive this holiday season. The guide includes 13 of the most covetable gadgets this year, from a wearable that does it all, to a virtual-reality gaming kit.

Rachel Mason’s ‘Heart Explodes’ Today

gia on the move musicLos Angeles-based Cleopatra Records and artist-run cassette label Practical Records present Rachel Mason’s new album ‘Das Ram’ LP, which is premieres today in Louder Than War.

Comprised of eight tracks, this album conveys the stories of specific characters, who define and delight in their own realities and cosmologies, and individuals who create their own world views, their own religions, and fantasy lives.

‘Das Ram’ is an inversion of the name of renowned healer Ram Dass, and also a play on Mason’s own initials, Rachel Ann Mason. The tracks were produced by renowned Los Angeles based writer, artist and musician Jeff Hassay.

‘Heart Explodes’ is a metaphor for allowing oneself the freedom to destroy one’s old identity and to find a new paradigm from which to dream.

”Women are often offered a set of limitations from an early age, and these restrictions determine so much of one’s destiny. Yet, there can be great things that arise from limitation, but controlling one’s own set of rules, one’s own box, one’s own destiny is the key,” explains Rachel Mason.

Mason wrote and directed the song’s video with Aksel Stasny, a cinematographer who shot her recent rock opera feature film The Lives of Hamilton Fish. The character in this new video references Edith Piaf, singing an art song in the blinding light of a single spotlight. The character morphs and eventually corrodes until she is splayed out and dissolves in a pile of flesh as her heart literally explodes.

The song begins “I made a box, just for dreams, to set ablaze and fly into” and then leaps finally and triumphantly into the end chorus “My heart explodes with too much love, and this love explodes with too much light”.

Until mid-December, Mason has a residency at Los Angeles’ world-renowned Hammer Museum, creating live performing arts pieces in real time (In Real Life: Studio 4-6pm). She is also currently co-directing a documentary feature on Circus of Books, the notorious adult bookstore chain, which played a critical role in the Silver Lake and Hollywood music scenes and gay culture.

The Cleopatra album release party takes place on November 27 at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater (2220 Beverly Blvd) with performances by Rachel Mason and The Starseeds, as well as beloved Los Angeles bands Egrets on Ergot and L.A.Drones. Ahead of that, on November 13, Practical Records hosts the cassette release at Human Resources Gallery, Los Angeles.

TRACK LIST (‘DAS RAM’ LP)
1. Roses
2. Heart Explodes
3. Sandstorm
4. Tigers In The Dark
5. Marry Me
6. Queen Bee
7. Cancer
8. Heaven

UPCOMING APPEARANCES
Nov. 27 Los Angeles, Bootleg Theater – ‘Das Ram’ CD Release (with L.A. Drones, Egrets on Ergot)
Dec. 2 Hammer Museum Residency (In Real Life: Studio 4-6pm)
Dec. 20 Hammer Museum Residency (In Real Life: Studio 4-6pm)
Dec. 22 Hammer Museum Residency (In Real Life: Studio 4-6pm)

Plant, Pick and Plate : The Indoor Gardening Revolution

gia on the move hydroponics, farm to table

Consumers have become increasingly health conscious about their lifestyles, diets and carbon footprints. Trending are solutions for sustainable at-home, indoor gardening that enable individuals and families, especially urban dwellers with little or no outdoor space, seniors with limited mobility, vegans and vegetarians to easily grow their favorite vegetables, herbs, sprouts and fruits inside their homes, year-round. OPCOM Farm indoor gardening systems has introduced a step beyond hydroponics, all-in-one, soil-free, LED lit system, designed for impressive water conservation and pesticide non-GMO gardening, capable of producing 25 percent faster growth cycles, without the challenges of weeding, pests and weather.

Environmentally friendly OPCOM GrowBox and GrowWall systems also have the capacity to grow a significant amount of produce that is even fresher than farm-to-table.

gia on the move hydroponics farm to table

The Italian In Me Returns to Theatre West December 3 & 4

gia on the move theatreItalian-Canadian actress Dina Morrone is an adventurous young woman who moves to Rome with grandiose dreams of working in the Italian film business. Her days are filled with countless animated yet fruitless encounters with perverts, priests and producers. When all hope seems lost, she meets the Master himself, the late great Federico Fellini.

“An accelerated full immersion Italian lesson about Cinema, Sex, Saints and Federico Fellini, all set in the Eternal City, Rome…and rendered to [comedic] perfection.”—Dave DePino, Backstage West

Written and performed by Dina Morrone. Directed by Peter Flood

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles, CA 90068

Two shows only:
Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m.