Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Special from Stan Mazin/Up the Mississippi

The American Queen
Stan Mazin is an actor/director/contributing writer to my Outside LA page who will occasionally appear on my blog page as well.
Traveling all over the world between acting/directing gigs, he recently went up the Mississippi and tells us about it below.

I recently returned from a wonderful 'down in the South' 7 night cruise from New Orleans up the Mississippi. The boat, and be careful NOT to call it a ship, was the American Queen, advertised as the largest working paddleboat in the world. And a glorious boat it was...having had its maiden 'boatride' in 1995. The boat is simply pristine in its furnishings and motif, with ample cabin space and absolutely delicious cuisine. And the talent is wonderful, beginning with Phil Westbrook performing in the Captain's Bar, Jackie Bankston playing in the Engine Room Bar, and Paula Betlem, Brian Smith, and Lindy Eller accompanied by the Bobby Durham Quartet performing in the Grand Saloon. Wherever you turned you were destined to be entertained. And the cruise director, Steve Spracklen, also proved himself to be a superb pianist, as well as an engaging MC for the nightly Grand Saloon shows.
If you get a chance to travel aboard this boat, you won't regret it. There's something for everyone...and who could feel bad about that?
Stan Mazin

I admire those who are always traveling and seeing the exciting entertainment away from LA. Stan will soon visit New York and write a play by play description of what's happening on Broadway, including Young Frankenstein, August, and hopefully Gypsy with Patti Lupone. Watch for his report on my Outside LA page in late April! Stan also travels to Egypt in late October-November, to Italy, of course to London at the end of December-January and makes several other excursions yearly. If you are interested in learning more about the trips that Stan takes, or are even more interested in participating in one or all of them, write to us here and Stan Mazin will get back to you promptly.
Bon voyage!
Interesting to note, Stan's production of Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential opens at LCGRT in NoHo on April 4 and will enjoy a 3 month engagement through June. I am helping to promote this production. I adore Ayckbourn, and from what I have seen in rehearsals, this presentation will be delightful with truly sperb casting! Stan Mazin loves comedy, and when in England in January, he spoke to Janie Dee after a performance of Shadowlands who was in the original West End production of Comic Potential. She offered some great advice, as only a true Brit can. They know more about farce than anyone on the planet.
Break a leg!


Moving away from travel, I am thrilled to announce here that I am venturing into the world of PR with my first big job, Athena Theatre's production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses to be directed by Patrick Varon and to be presented either in NoHo or over the hill, at a theatre that we will announce very soon. The play is scheduled for fall, but may happen this summer depending upon location. For those of you that have followed the successes of the Athena Theatre for the last few years, actress Veronique Ory has done a meticulous job mounting acclaimed productions in the San Fernando Valley as well as in Hollywood.I am exceedingly proud to be a part of this incredible team of artists. Watch for announcements very, very soon! I guarantee it will be a very thrilling year for Athena Theatre. Stay tuned!

As far as my acting career is concerned I am doing a reading of John Hopkins' Find Your Way Home at The Road on April 7 with fellow Roadies Liz Herron, Sean Wing and Vince Tula. I am directing for the first time, as well as playing the husband. This should be a fun experience.

I have also written a new one-act play whose first scene will hopefully be enacted at The Road during an upcoming Sunday workshop. Casting is now in progress. It's semi-autobiographical about my years as an actor in New York in the 70s with my dear friend Shelley Werk and an acting coach at HB, the famous William Hickey. It was fun to write as I recalled vividly the way these people spoke and the crazy things that they would say and do in given situations. These years were joyous and I miss them tremendously. I've set the play on Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the year.
Talk soon!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A quick note!

A quickie about the current production of Sweeney Todd at the Ahmanson! This is the 2006 John Doyle version that starred Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris on Broadway. With Judy Kaye and David Hess on board in Los Angeles, how can it lose? It's magnificent. Go and run, don't walk, to get tix thru April 6 only! Watch for my full review next week! And speaking of La Lupone, she's opening on Broadway in Gypsy in 2 weeks in the role she was born to play - Mama Rose. She'll knock 'em dead! Break a leg, girl!!!
Una observacion muy breve sobre Sweeney Todd en el teatro Ahmanson! Esta es la 2006 representacion, dirigida por John Doyle con Patti Lupone y Miguel Cerveris en Nueva York. Con Judy Kaye y David Hess aqui en Los Angeles, como puede no tener exito? Es magnifico! Apurense para comprar boletos, solo hasta el 6 de abril. Mi juicio critico completo aparecera la semana que viene.
Y mientras hablamos de la senorita Lupone, ella va a comenzar haciendo el papel de Mama Rosa en Gypsy en Nueva York el 27 de este mes. Tendra exito tremendo en un papel que es ideal para su gran talento. Buenisima suerte, querida!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Let's Talk Theatre-March, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day in advance! Many do not realize that I am of Irish ancestry and hail from Holyoke, Massachusetts, not only the paper city of the country but also home of one of the biggest parades on the East Coast in honor of Saint Pat. It's usually held around March 17, has a week of festivities including a Coronation Ball for the chosen Colleen and has a guest Grand Marshall, like past Marshall Senator Ted Kennedy, or actors such as the late great Pat O'Brien and William Gargan. Remember him? He played the young girl's alcoholic piano playing father in The Bells of St. Mary's. As a kid, I can say with pride that I saw John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline in a St. Patrick's Day Parade before he became the greatest President in history. I was fortunate to play Saint Patrick 6 years ago in The Saint on the Couch in NoHo. It was a tiny part, but me mum would have been so proud!
So happy that Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress Oscar as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. What a magnificent performance! Javier Bardem was charming when accepting his Oscar; he thanked his mom and all his Spanish countrymen and actors who were an inspiration for him. Gracias, Javier, por tu trabajo tan bueno; tu mereces el premio, porque tu eres un actor fuerte y sensible. Felicitaciones!
This month I look forward to reading a wonderful new book written by playwright William Derringer entitled The Passion That Bites Back, A Fun Educational Theatrical Memoir. Bill's play Shiva Warriors gave me the terrfic character role of George, a shabby middle-aged man who laments the loss of his father and tries in his own confused way to come to terms with the lifestyle of his gay brother Sol. I so enjoyed playing this part at the Bitter Truth Playhouse 5 years ago. Bill's sensitivity as a writer is palpable and I can't wait to read his new book. There will be a review of it here in the near future. By the way, Bill and his life partner Bob now live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More congrats on your book, your plays and so many other accomplishments!
This month S.T.A.G.E. presents their annual gala to benefit AIDS, this year honoring composer Burt Bacharach and presented at the Wilshire Theatre. Favorites like Mary Jo Catlett, Marilyn Maye, Nancy Dussault, Betty Garrett and many others are set to perform, directed by old reliable David Galligan.
Look forward to the world premiere musical of Mask at the Pasadena Playhouse later this month and the return of Eric Millegan to Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's on March 30, as he joins Jenna Gavigan in her show as guest star. Last December Eric did his own show with Jenna as guest. I reviewed the evening. He was a real charmer, fun and a big hit with his audience. Quite a fine singer as well!

Best of luck to my friend, fellow Roadie and former writing colleague Travis Michael Holder as he ventures to New Orleans for the annual Tennessee Williams Festival. He is hoping that he will get a chance to redo his fun role in the The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore with the marvelous Karen Kondazian. If you remember, he shared the part of the Witch with Scott Presley in the riveting remounting of the play last fall at the Fountain Theatre. Buena suerte, queridos!
Will chat at 'ya again real soon! Hasta, amigos! And wear GREEN March 17!

Easter comes early this year - March 23, so Happy Easter as well!
Spring and summer are right around the corner! Am eagerly awaiting Eden Espinosa (no longer in Wicked) in Reprise's Flora the Red Menace in May, and Beth Kennedy and Susan Sullivan in a new play at the Falcon in April. Congratulations to Brian Childers and company for their Palm Springs engagement of The Kid from Brooklyn, The Danny Kaye Musical later this month through June! What a grand success for the El Portal! My interview with him remains in Past Interviews on the Interview page. Check it out!
Hasta! Felices Pascuas!