Spotlight

Chita Rivera in West Side Story (Photo EVERETT)

CHITA RIVERA

  • By KEN WERTHER

Chita Rivera, the legendary dancer, singer, and actress who leapt to stardom in the original Broadway production of West Side Story and dazzled audiences for nearly seven decades onstage, in movies, and on television, died on January 30 at age 91. To generations of musical aficionados, she was a whirling, bounding, high-kicking force of dance, a seductive singer, and a compelling actress with boundless energy. She appeared in scores of stage productions in New York and London, logged over 100,000 miles on cabaret tours, and performed in dozens of films and television programs. On Broadway, she created the iconic Anita in West Side Story (1957), starred opposite Dick Van Dyke in Bye Bye Birdie (1960), originated the murderous floozy Velma Kelly in Chicago (1975), and won her second Tony Award for her performance in the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993). Throughout her career, critics combed thesauruses hunting for new words with which to rave about her electric performances. In 2005, Newsweek called her, “only the greatest musical theatre dancer ever.” Reviewing her performance in Bye Bye Birdie, The New York Times called her, “a flammable singer and gyroscopic dancer.” Gyroscopic! In 2009, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian honor) by President Barack Obama. In 2015, Broadway marveled when, at 82, she opened in The Visit. Singular. Unstoppable. Unforgettable. She will be sorely missed.

Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero, January 23, 1933 – January 30, 2024

Mack & Mabel in Concert Feb 16-18, 2024 at El Portal Theatre

MACK & MABEL

  • By KEN WERTHER

Okay, theatre fans … now this is exciting! All Roads Theatre Company, LA’s new Equity company, is presenting its inaugural production this month! It’s a fully staged and choreographed “in concert” presentation of the beloved and rarely produced Broadway musical Mack & Mabel, starring Dermot Mulroney (yes, he sings!), Jenna Lea Rosen, and Caroline O’Connor. With music and lyrics by the legendary Jerry Herman, the show will be directed and choreographed by Scott Thompson with musical direction by Fred Barton (conducting an 18-piece orchestra). Along with Mulroney, Rosen, and O’Connor, the cast will feature Chad Doreck, Lee James, Michael Shepperd, Robert Yacko, Glenn Rosenblum, Arthur L. Ross, and Myriam Ali.

Mack & Mabel tells the story of the tumultuous romantic and artistic relationship between silent movie director Mack Sennett and one of his biggest discoveries and stars, Mabel Normand. In a series of flashbacks, Sennett relates the glory days of Keystone Studios from 1911, when he discovered Normand through his creation of Sennett’s Bathing Beauties and the Keystone Cops, to Normand’s death from tuberculosis in 1930.

Composer-lyricist Jerry Herman wrote a strikingly haunting, compelling, and unusual score for Mack & Mabel and always said it was his personal favorite. So … if you like other Herman scores like Hello, Dolly!, Mame, Dear World, and La Cage Aux Folles, head to North Hollywood during Presidents’ Day weekend! There are only four performances, so don’t dawdle!  


For more, click here.

Black Cypress Bayou February 7-March 17, 2024 at Geffen Playhouse

BLACK CYPRESS BAYOU

  • By Arlene Winnick

Black Cypress Bayou is a new play making its premier at The Geffen and it has a lot to say.  When the richest, meanest man in town dies, matriarch Vernita Manifold has a big secret to reveal to her two daughters that will change the bonds between the women, and in fact, the news will change everything in this small town. Both hilarious and suspenseful, Black Cypress Bayou is a heartfelt mystery to be unraveled teaching us about loyalty, healing and comeuppance.

Much of the story’s messages are conveyed through the play’s settings – the bayou and the town of Deep East Texas. The bayou is mystical with its bald cypress trees that rise up out of the water draped in eerie Spanish moss.  At night the swamp comes alive under a veil of fog and darkness as the creature crawls about and sound off with their hoots and hollers. The town is a poor Southern segregated community that relies on the land and neighbors they trust. A general store, an old slaughterhouse, not even a stop light.  Everyone carries a gun, mostly for protection from an array of potential dangers.

Written by Kristen Adele Calhoun and directed by Tiffany Nichole Green, Black Cypress features Amber Chardae Robinson as Taysha Hunter; Brandee Evans as LadyBird “Lady” Manifold; Angela Lewis as RaeMeka  “Meka” Manifold-Baler and Kimberly Scott as the Vernita Manifold.

For tickets, click here.

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter February 3-25, 2024 at Greenway Court Theatre (Pictured are (from left) Erika L. Sánchez, Isaac Gómez and Sara Guerrero / Photo courtesy of Greenway Arts Alliance)

I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER

  • By ARLENE WINNICK

Erika L. Sanchez’s book I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a New York Times #1 bestseller when it was published in 2017, and now it has been adapted into a play produced by the Greenway Arts Alliance. Soon to be a major motion picture directed by actor America Ferrera, IANYPMD is the heartwarming story of high school student, Julia, the strong willed and precocious daughter of first generation Mexican immigrants, as she navigates the trials and tribulations of growing up in urban Chicago.  When her ‘perfect’ older sister dies in an accident, secrets are revealed; truths unturned, and new challenges appear as she grapples to find herself and her place in the world.

The show is produced by the Greenway Arts Alliance (GAA) is a community-based non-profit whose mission is to unite communities through its art, education, and enterprise programs.  GAA choses stories that resonate with young people. “Young audiences will continue going to theater if they see themselves reflected in the characters on stage,” noted GAA co-founder and co-artistic director Pierson Blaetz.

The novel was adapted for the stage by LA playwright Isaac Gómez and is directed by Sara Guerero. Performances of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter will take place at the Greenway Court Theatre which was built by Fairfax High School students in 1939 and is currently used as a Social Hall for students and faculty.

For tickets and more, click here.