MOTOWN THE MUSICAL & PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the Pantages
At the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL, playing now through June 7. The glorious show puts the spotlight on the classic Motown sound, arguably the best pop songs every written. The exciting dramatic musical is the true story of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul. Gordy launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and many more. And the show features great singers who recreate performances by those iconic stars. Gordy himself gave this production his seal of approval, on stage for the curtain calls on opening night.
Coming soon to the Pantages, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA returns (June 11 to August 2) following a celebrated sold-out tour of the United Kingdom. It’s Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical blockbuster. Visit www.HollywoodPantages.com.
VIOLET the Musical and ALICE’S WONDROUS ADVENTURE at the El Portal Theatre
A variety of shows from Kelrik Productions have found a home at NoHo’s historic El Portal Theatre. There are the family friendly matinee shows such as Alice’s Wondrous Adventure, playing Saturday and Sundays from May 23 to June 7. And there are the acclaimed “after dark” shows for mature audiences looking for a great evening at the theater. Kelrik presents Violet the Musical, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, May 15 to May 31, at the El Portal’s Monroe Forum in North Hollywood.
Review: VIOLET the Musical
VIOLET the Musical offers powerful performances for the dramatic show with music that’s about healing old wounds. It is also a study of race relations from a different point of view and leaves audiences talking about its themes long after the curtain comes down.
Since Violet is an emotional story about a young woman’s journey, the show presented by Kelrik Productions benefits from being staged at the intimate Monroe Forum at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. Serious songs move the story along suitably, with a few fun ditties with a Southern flair added to lighten the mood. But the show would not be able to grip the audience without the impressive cast whose voices and performances capture and project amazing grace.
Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” the show was a hit off-Broadway. It revolves around Violet, the young woman who takes a bus ride to ask a Tulsa preacher to heal her disfiguring facial scar. Kristin Towers Rowles is fierce and brilliant in the role, giving it everything she’s got to present Violet as someone not to be pitied, but admired for her tremendous strength and inner beauty.
She befriends two soldiers on her life-changing trip, a black man named Flick, played by Jahmaul Bakare, and a young white recruit Monty, played by Michael Spaziani. Both are formidable companions for Violet. Bakare elevates the show with his mighty voice, and Spaziani is a joy to watch, as are all the supporting players—Jason Chacon, Richard Lewis Warren, Gail Matthius, Erika Bowman, Benai Boyd, Jeremy Saje, Justin Anthony Long, and especially Jaidyn Young, as young Violet.
At the helm of the superb cast is director Joshua Finkel, whose creative touches bring the challenging story to life and helps it develop into something special.
Kelrik Productions is presenting Violet the Musical May 15 to 31, at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Visit www.elportaltheater.com, and find out more about future shows at www.kelrikproductions.org.
WATERFALL at The Pasadena Playhouse
WATERFALL is playing at the Pasadena Playhouse May 29 to June 7, and marks a groundbreaking collaboration between American and Asian theatrical artists. The musical directed by Tak Viravan features book and lyrics by Tony-winner Richard Maltby Jr. (Ain’t Misbehavin,’ Miss Saigon) and music by Oscar-winner David Shire. Like Maltby’s Miss Saigon, Waterfall is an epic love story set in turbulent times—Bangkok and Tokyo between 1933 and 1939, as the monarchy falls in Thailand and Japan is on the brink of war. A young Thai student (Thai superstar Bie Sukrit) falls in love with the American wife (Emily Padgett) of a Thai diplomat, and the story of their forbidden love parallels history’s upheaval. With a gloriously romantic score, Waterfall is a relevant tale of timeless scale. Visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
MURDER FOR TWO at the Geffen Playhouse
MURDER FOR TWO is playing at the Geffen Playhouse, in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, May 26 to July 5. The hilarious two-person whodunit musical features the stars of its acclaimed New York cast: Jeff Blumenkrantz and Brett Ryback, who got rave reviews. The story follows Officer Marcus Moscowicz (Ryback), a small town policeman with dreams of being a detective. One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party and a celebrated novelist is killed. Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills with all the suspects (played by Blumenkrantz). Expect the unexpected with a great twist to musical murder mystery. Visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.
THE TROUBLE WE COME FROM at The Falcon Theatre
THE TROUBLE WE COME FROM has its world premiere at the Falcon Theatre, playing June 4 to July 12. It is written by Scott Caan (of Hawaii Five-O fame) and directed by Matt August. The romantic comedy follows Charlie (Michael Weston) as he finds himself at a crossroads in his life, with the news that his girlfriend (Claire van der Boom) is expecting. Charlie confides in his best friend Vince (Scott Caan) that he has recently crossed paths with the other women in his life, including previous girlfriends (Teri Reeves). Exploring the tangled web of his relationships, like most guys, Charlie is unsure about commitment. The Trouble We Come From is at Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake. Visit www.falcontheatre.com. #