Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Gays Return

(left to right clockwise: David Romano as Sophia, John Downey III as Blanche, Robert Glenn Decker as Rose, seated: writer John Patrick Trapper and John W. McClaughlin as Dorothy)
Revamped acclaimed show plays this time @ the META Theatre on Melrose January 22 - 31 only and tickets are selling like hotcakes. Golden Gays then tours to Palm Springs and on to Florida in February. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010-WINNER of LA's Next Great Stage Star!!!!

Janet Krupin is LA's Next Great Stage Star 2010. The top five finalists include (left to right): Raquel Sandler (4th place), Taylor Tracey (3rd place), winner Janet Krupin, Derek Klena (tied for 4th place) and Domonique Paton (2nd place).
It was a very exciting Finale for LA's Next Great Stage Star 2010 competition on Sunday, January 3 at Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's.

18 participants, competing 6 weeks since November 22, performed round one for the 10 judges present. Highlights included: Derek Klena, "Movin' Too Fast", Elizabeth O'Malley, "I'm Not Afraid of Anything", Nicole Ligerman with an off-the-wall "Screw Loose" from Cry Baby, Matthew Claiborne with a lovely "Music of the Night" from Phantom, Janet Krupin, with a soaring "Out of the Blue" from Lippa's The Wild Party, Aletta Mannix, "Maybe I Like It This Way", Raquel Sandler repeting her outstanding interpretation of "I Won't Mind" from The Other Franklin, Domonique Paton, with a heartfelt "Home" from The Wiz, Taylor Tracey, with another heart-tugging number "It Hurts To be Strong" from the Broadway musical Carrie, Luke Yellin "Epiphany" from Altar Boyz, Bobby Bennett rendering a vocally strong "Being Alive" from Company and Kristen Heitman with a great "Alto's Lament".

Some tough decision making! The audience voted and 13 participants were eliminated. The top five finalists announced were: Derek Klena, Taylor Tracey, Raquel Sandler, Domonique Paton, and Janet Krupin. After a brief interlude, the five finalists performed a second round. The five performances were all astounding! Klena with "Farewell to the Hills of Home" from Parade, Paton with her wonderful "Disneyland" from Smile, Tracey "I'm Not Alone" also from Carrie, Sandler, succeeding big time 360 degrees away from the serious "I Won't Mind" with the perky, sexy, funny "Taylor the Latte Boy" and Janet Krupin, a tour-de-force with "How Lucky Can You Get" from Funny Lady.

Another interlude with audience voting... and... Janet Krupin was named winner of LA's Next Great Stage Star 2010, with Klena and Sandler sharing fourth place, Tracey in third and Paton in second. You had to be there, but Krupin's reaction was priceless. She uttered onstage "I have to call my mom!" Pulling out her cell phone, she called her mom in Oregon and when she told her "Mom, I won!", the response came back "Oh my God... I'll call you back!" Funny, funny... what priority hold fame and glory in our ultra-fast technological world! As I said before, you had to be there to hear it firsthand.

Intermission entertainment during the two voting sessions was incredible. Musical director James Lent, virtuoso pianist, saluted guest celebrity judge Bill Hutton with an instrumental medley from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Hutton originated the title role on Broadway and was Tony nominated for it) and to honor second guest celebrity judge Alexis Gershwin, Lent played a wonderful "Rhapsody in Blue" (Gershwin, being the niece of the composers George and Ira Gershwin). Janene Lovullo, making a stunning return to the musical stage with this performance after a self-imposed 10 year absence to bring up her children, essayed a beautiful "Golden Rainbow" and next a Rodgers and Hammerstein medley culminating with "I Have Dreamed", accompanied on the piano by its arranger Christopher Marlowe. Also, Paul Stroili performed an hysterical 10-minute standup in which he roasted Michael Sterling, as "he with the cashmere vocal chords", calling him the "white... no, olive-skinned James Earl Jones". Funny stuff!

This was a long but exhilarating and very entertaining afternoon. We can look forward to all five finalists when they each headline Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's sometime between now and late May. All five also get top auditions with local casting directors and musical theaters such as Cabrillo Music Theatre and Musical Theatre West. Krupin, as the winner, gets all of the above and $1000 cash.

I eagerly await La's Next Great Stage Star 2011!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 book review - Stephanie Hutchinson

Brentwood award-winning playwright/music composer/lyricist Stephanie Hutchinson has two of her short plays More Precious than Diamonds and Super 8 versus Bacara Resort and Spa published in a new anthology entitled The Best 10-Minute Plays for 2 or More Actors (2009) edited by Lawrence Harbison and with publishers SK, A Smith and Kraus Book. Hutchinson has a very keen eye for diverse characterizations and with it an infectious sense of humor. Julie in Diamonds and Lulabelle in Super 8 are as different as day and night, but they both want love and know how to get what they want. The comedy is real, down-to-earth humor, emanating from the people themselves - totally believable, not superficial. They are both a fun read.
When I was first introduced to Miss Hutchinson, she had turned her More Precious than Diamonds into a musical, composing her own music and lyrics. It was performed in a festival of mini-musicals last June, 2009 at the Secret Rose Theatre in NoHo. The following is my review of the play, first printed here in June, 2009:
Winner of the annual Mini Musical Fest @ The Secret Rose Theatre in my book is More Precious Than Diamonds by Stephanie Hutchinson. The play revolves around Julie (Fay Gauthier) and friend Michelle (Deborah Png) , window shopping a diamond ring in a Tiffany's store. Julie has always wanted a ring and is fed up with waiting for the right man to come along & buy one for her. Stewart, the salesman (Marco Antonio Aguilar), who assists Julie, not only shows her an $84, 900 ring, but ends up giving her much, much more. The mini play, with book, music and lyrics by Stephanie Hutchinson, is a sweet, fresh take on love at first sight. Jonathan Levit ably directs the mini play with Steve Walby also in the ensemble as a tough store security guard. The plot is simple and clear, the songs fresh and pretty, and the actors do a truly first-rate job in acting and singing their roles.
To purchase the book, autographed by Stephanie Hutchinson, of 10-Minute Plays:
Please send a check for $31.65 (including tax, shipping/handling) to:
Stephanie Hutchinson
P.O. Box 492464
Los Angeles, CA 90049
CDs (plus synopsis) of MORE PRECIOUS THAN DIAMONDS, the Musical are also available for $8.50 (to the same address).

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 CD review - Franny McCartney - As Is

Performing as a Harlette with Bette Midler in Divine Madness (above), Franny McCartney learned a lot about singing in the background, but now it's her turn, as she just released her very own CD As Is (below). (Linda Hart and Paulette McWilliams are the other two Harlettes above from left.)

If you like a smooth singer, one to listen to when you cuddle up with that extra special person by the fireside, then there is no one better than Franny McCartney. Her low-key, velvety tones can be both serious or playful as she runs the gamut of emotions from A-Z in her new jazz/pop/blues CD entitled As Is.

What a variety of songs! There's a sensually passionate "Besame Mucho", a very sultry & evocative "Something Cool", and then lighter, more tongue-in-cheek humor in "White Girls Get the Blues Too" and the toe-tapping, upbeat "Grass Is Always Greener". Accompanying and sometimes singing with McCartney is Howlett "Smitty" Smith, who can bring out the magic in just about any blues song. Also on tap are my personal favorites "Put a Little Love In Your Heart" and the always make me feel good "It's a Good Day". Then, there's plenty of seasonal lunacy with "Strawberry Spring", "Wintertime", "For One Whole Spring" or "Midnight Sun".

This is an album that will brighten any mood, that will definitely raise your spirits...and one that you will want to play over and over again. Whenever you need that lift, McCartney has the gift! As Is keeps giving pleasure.

Goldie Productions

Visit Franny McCartney @