Entertainment & Arts
REVIEW: Catch the Dream at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Written by Sandra Green   
Saturday, 02 April 2016 18:45

When it comes to diversity in the arts, the McCoy Rigby Entertainment Group is ahead of the game (you know what I'm talkin' about), especially with their latest presentation, the Tony and Oscar Award winning musical Dreamgirls, currently in its off-Broadway run from now through April 17th at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts that continues to bring phenomenal productions to our own diverse community.

Brittney Johnson, Jasmin Richardson and Danielle Truitt star in the production of "DREAMGIRLS" - Directed and Choreographed by Robert Longbottom and now playing at LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS.

Set in the early 60's when the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York was busting at its seams with performers like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and The Supremes, an amateur night of sorts is where Dreamgirls begins.

This musical moves quickly as The Dreamettes (channel The Ronettes) miss out on their chance of stardom.  They are quickly offered to sing back up for the star known as Jimmy "Thunder" Early and despite hesitation by the groups lead singer, Effie (played by Moya Angela) Lorrell (Brittney Johnson) and Deena (Jasmin Richardson) the other two-thirds of The Dreamettes convince Effie this can be the groups "big break."

Cut to The Dreamgirls, now taking stage with Early, popular with hit after hit--- no.  What actually happens is indicative of the early 60's when musicians like Little Richard or Muddy Waters penned the songs that would be sung by the non-African American contemporary--- a popular hit on the backs of an artist not credited. Soon the tension becomes apparent amongst The Dreams (formerly The Dreamettes) and a split and replacement of a lead singer transpires.  Over a course of nearly a decade, we see the evolution of a female trio, the decline of a musical genre, and the success of writers and performers alike.

I went to see Dreamgirls without much known of the story as I have never seen the movie that starred Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson.  I'm happy I didn't because going in with preconceived notions on how this cast "should" perform hits like "one Night Only" and "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" would be unfair to the cast.

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts Presents Dreamgirls E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Tuesday, 22 March 2016 16:37

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment  present the fourth show of their 2015-2016 season, an all-new spectacular DREAMGIRLS, book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, music by Henry Krieger, musical direction by Dennis Castellano and directed & choreographed by Robert Longbottom.  Dreamgirls will preview on Friday, March 25, 2016 (with a press opening on Saturday, March 26) and run through Sunday, April 17, 2016 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada.

Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, the sensational new production of Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s girl singing group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls features the unforgettable hits: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only" and "Listen." This Tony and Academy Award winning musical sparkles like never before.

For tickets visit the theatre website here or call the box office at (562) 944-9801.

Exclusive Interview With Member of The Imagination Movers Showing This Sunday at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Written by Sandra Green   

"Reach High, Think Big, Work Hard, Have Fun!"

This Sunday, March 6th, The Imagination Movers are coming to the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts for two shows only-grab your tickets and your kiddos and get ready to have some fun!

Described by some as a cross between the Blue Man Group and Red Hot Chili Peppers FOR KIDS, the Imagination Movers promise a fast paced and entertaining show!  So who are the Imagination Movers--- have you EVER watched the Disney Channel???

This awesome quartet featuring Scott Durbin, Dave Poche, "Smitty" Smith, and Rich Collins bring forth music in a unique style delivering messages about reading, holidays, dogs, the tooth fairy, and so much more--- all matters kids care about in a "care about kids" way.  Their performance art captures the attention of kids and will not bore parents (like me who have heard way too many of some not-so-hip kids music)!

I had a chance to learn more about The Imagination Movers recently from Scott Durbin himself (you know, the one that used to have the long hair- now sporting a Mohawk-keyboardist and vocalist):

La Mirada Blog: What is the goal with The Imagination Movers in their performances that are "education" centered when teaching is now taking a different approach ie: Common Core?

Scott Durbin: Honestly, I think as long as the Movers keep true to creating music for the body and brain we’ll be on the right path. We know that childhood obesity is a significant problem and so we’ve made it a priority to promote being physically active. We feel that when you couple that with encouraging creative thought and expression, you’ve got the makings of a winning combination. But we don’t stop there - at the end of every concert, we tell kids everywhere to consider picking up and learning a musical instrument. We feel through our own modeling of playing live music for families, kids will see the power at their proverbial fingertips, and the educational research certainly supports the positive cognitive and emotional impact that learning music at an early age can have.

LMB: Tell us a little bit about your work with The Buddy Walk.

SD: We've been national partners with the Buddy Walk Program (through the National Down Syndrome Society) for a few years now. We’ve attended Buddy Walks, performed at them, raffled off signed guitars and other Mover memorabilia as well as donated a percentage of the money we raised during our crowd-funding campaign which helped bring about our most recent CD/DVD release, Licensed to Move. Working with the Buddy Walk Program has been a mission that is close to our collective hearts and as long as we get to do what we do - we’ll be serving the Down’s community selflessly.

LMB: What are the plans of Imagination Movers for the upcoming year?

SD: Big thing is we’ll be working on our 10th album. That’s crazy in and of itself! Through the ups and downs, the four Movers have remained friends and continue to be creative. We’re proud that the songs we wrote for the Disney show as well as the new music we’ve added. We continue to write and to create content that seeks to challenge our audience instead of pacify them. As for other endeavors, we’re hoping our animated concept, Super Movers, finds a broadcast home. I mean any show that let’s kids know that EVERYONE has the power to become a super hero (super kind, a super big brother, a super dancer), is something I’d want my kids watching; and we’ll continue to play live music for families near and far.

Catch The Imagination Movers this Sunday at two shows—1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.  Show Length is estimated at 60 minutes.  Tickets are $15/Child and $20/Adult.  VIP Passes are $25 in addition to admission and include a meet-and-greet with the band including time to take photos and receive autographs.

Call the La Mirada Performing Arts Center Box Office at 562-944-9801.

Award-Winning Beatles Biography Comes to La Mirada Stage E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Saturday, 20 February 2016 15:25

"In My Life" performs on March 4 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

La Mirada~Featuring the live music of renowned tribute band, Abbey Road, In My Life-A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles, is the nationally touring musical biography of the Beatles through the eyes of manager Brian Epstein. The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique Beatles show in decades. In My Life performs at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts on Friday, March 4 at 8:00 pm. The show is appropriate for all ages.

More than just a Beatles tribute concert, In My Life gives the audience a chance to “be there” at pivotal moments in the extraordinary career of the Beatles: Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club, The Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, Abbey Road Studios and the final live performance on the rooftop of their Apple Corp offices. With manager Brian Epstein serving as narrator, In My Life allows the audience to get a glimpse inside the world of the Beatles from their point of view, as well as hear some of the greatest songs ever written. Historical settings such as the Cavern Club are established on stage with videos and images which play behind the actors and musicians on a video screen.

Mockingbird Flies Into La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Written by Sandra Green   

If you are one of the many who pre-ordered and read last year’s “Go Set a Watchman”  last summer, you may have distaste for me merely bringing up the subject.

That release of Harper Lee's possible first draft or possible sequel to the beloved and Pulitzer- prize winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingird”, was not met by all with open arms.  Some (like me) refused to read it-- us librarians tend to be finicky on literary integrity and sources.

It is true what the author Neil Gaiman has put so eloquently:  "Google will bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian will bring you back the right one."  So how is this librarian to determine if Watchman was a sequel to Mockingbird?  Was the book never meant for publishing in the first place?  Or is it better to just pretend that Watchman was never released and focus on Lee's beautiful masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird?  I prefer the latter.

For me, I first read Mockingbird in ninth grade.  Soon to follow was me partaking of the film version.  In case you have never seen the film, you'll catch a glimpse of a young Robert Duvall and a not-to-be-missed Gregory Peck.  The film (released in 1962 by Universal) could not have been more poignant for a country at a turning point.  The Civil Rights Act was on the table amongst our country's law makers.  Dr. King was a household name for the non-violent protest movement.  JFK was in the White House.   I fell in love with the book.  I fell in love with the film.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that transcends time.

Now, in 2016, Phantom Projects takes on the stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Steve Cisneros, the producing artistic director of Phantom (and a La Mirada native) follows up on a phenomenal performance of “Number the Stars” with Lee's Mockingbird.

Taking stage for ONE DAY ONLY (shows at 10:00 a.m. (SOLD OUT), 1:00 p.m. (SOLD OUT), and 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 18th); I encourage you not to miss out.

Cisneros’ goal, to bring to stage performances that tackle topics for teens, is a one of a kind mission; Phantom Projects is unlike any other theatre troop you'll find nationwide.  Each season, two performances are based on literary pieces (previously presented were Lois Lowry's The Giver, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and Christopher Paul Curtis' The Watsons Go to Birmingham).  The third upcoming show of the current season, "Center of the Universe” was written by co-founder Bruce Gevirtzman and shows April 21st. Concluding the season with the fourth show is "The Young Artist's Project" on August 6th, wherein a cast is given only 14 days upon meeting to put together their best performance.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a story set in 1930's Maycomb County, Alabama.  Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer, is left to raise his two children- inquisitive Jem and tom-boy Scout.  Jem and Scout are set on finding creative ways to lure the neighborhood recluse, Boo Radley, out of his home, their imaginations run wild in true childlike innocence.  When Atticus takes on a case of defending a young African American man, Tom Robinson, accused of raped, a lesson in race relations in the Jim Crowe south unfolds and Jem and Scout discover their fathers shoes are not easy to fill. 

Remember, Harper Lee's Mockingbird was released in the early 1960's, a time that could only be better than if it were released in present day.  If you are curious of the timing of this stage performance, take heed that Cisneros chose this piece about two years ago yet the timing couldn't be better to bring this book to life.


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