Entertainment & Arts
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.

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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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REVIEW: Empire Captures the Spirit of New York City E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Written by Sandra Green   

Skip the search for a restaurant for Valentine’s Day weekend. Instead, take the one you love, or even make it a family trip, to go see Empire, the latest production from The McCoy Rigby Entertainment Group. La Mirada’s Performing Arts Center hosts the first run of Empire, an entertaining and Broadway bound musical about the construction of the Empire State Building. This musical is entertaining, intriguing, and you as La Mirada residents get to be the first to enjoy this marvel!

Empire opens in New York City’s “Hey Day” of the roaring 20’s-- glitz, gold, glamor, wealth! All the magic and feeling you've read about in books by the likes of Fitzgerald, this is the time, striking while it's hot! But as quickly as that wealth may have come, it's quickly lost as America is hit by the stock market crash of 1929 and The Great Depression. What are the money makers who have held on to their money and still soaring high to do? Ask John J. Raskob and Al Smith-- a High Financer and the former governor of New York. Together, Raskob and Smith have one goal in mind-- build the largest building in the world to rule the New York city skyline. For such a task, they enlist architect, Michael Shaw, and Smith's "Can-Do" gal, Frankie Peterson.


Kevin Earley (far left), Stephanie Gibson (center) and the workers are featured in the musical “EMPIRE” - directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and now playing at LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS.

To create a monument of such stature, Peterson tackles the workforce and Shaw the design. Together they gain the trust of their employees, a diverse migrant work force. We see the Al Smith building become a symbol of the power, magnitude, and enigmatic spirit of the people of New York, the “Empire State." Irish, Italian, and Mohawk Indian, all join in to earn an honest living and end up being the integral part of the story and reflecting the beauty of this building.

Enjoyable, lively, and a performance filled with romance and laughter, Empire is a delight and truly one of the most enjoyable productions to come to the La Mirada Performing Arts Center. Mesmerizing use of scenery projection and a cast pulling off dance numbers and acrobatics are all part of a special and nostalgic musical ready for Broadway.

Cast includes Kevin Earley, Stephanie Gibson, Tony Sheldon, Michael McCormick, Charlotte Maltby, and Joe Hart. Ensemble cast: Josh Walden, Cooper Stanton, Justin Michael Wilcox, Caleb Shaw, Tommy Bracco, Michael Baxter, Michael Starr, Juan Caballer, Joe Hart, and Caitlyn Calfas, Rachel Osting, Rachel King, Fatima El-Bashir, Tory Freeth, Christine Tucker, Richard Bulda, Jordan Richardson, Gabriel Navarro, Rodrigo Varandas, Katharine McDonough, Josh Walden, Tommy Bracco, and Juan Caballer.

Book, Music and Lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull. Musical Direction by Sariva Goetz. Directed and Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Produced by Sue Vaccaro, Ricky Stevens, and The Rivet Gang. Production Stage Manger: Jill Gold. Assistant Stage Manager: Nicole Wessel. Flying Sequence Choreographer: Paul Rubin. Casting Director: Julia Flores. Scenic and Co-Projection Designer: David Gallo and Brad Peterson. Costume Designer: Leon Wiebers. Lighting Designer: Jared A. Sayeg. Sound Designer: Philip G. Allen.

 
Phantom Projects Tackles Tough Topics Through Live Theatre E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 21:25

I was driving in my car the other day when my five year old asked me, "Mommy what does bombing mean?"

For once, my reply wasn't, "Where did you hear that from?"  Rather, I found myself turning off the news radio channel and tried to answer my son’s question.  Part of me felt my child had a right to know what a bombing was because he needs to know right from wrong, but the other part of me, like most parents, didn't want to discuss anything and change the subject altogether.  Truth be known, today's current events are sparking conversations, questions, and confusion from our children and as parents we may find ourselves in a predicament we simply are unfamiliar with.  We don't know the answers--- and you know what?  That's okay.

This is not the first time mankind is questioning the actions of some. Why is there suffering in the world?  What is the reason for such acrimony and discourse?  How do we begin to make peace with one another when the focus is often on our own differences?  When movies depict war, television blasts non-stop political banter and books take past events and put a modern "Hollywood spin" on conflict, what are parents left to tell their children?

This week, I had the pleasure of attending Phantom Projects production of Number the Stars, based on the book by Lois Lowry.  I read this book years ago as a sixth grader and now as a school librarian, it sits quietly on my book shelves only to be checked out occasionally.  In Number the Stars, ten-year old Annemarie Johansen goes about life in Denmark in 1943 with her best friend, Ellen Rosen.  Confused by the looming presence of German Nazi soldiers, Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirstie (Annemarie's younger sister), have so many questions for their parents, all of which can't be explained or the complete truth withheld from the young girls.  Soon, Ellen's parents are gone and Annemarie and Kirstie are told they must pretend Ellen is their sister.  The Johansen’s, with the help of their late daughter's fiancé, Peter and Uncle Henrik, assist in the escape of The Rosen’s and other Jews to Sweden.  At the doorstep of fear, Annemarie chooses bravery and soon discovers many others do as well.

Under the direction of Steve Cisneros, Number the Stars pulled together a cast of actors that excelled in their portrayal of Lowry's characters.  The young actors in this cast (Veronica McFarlane as Annemarie, Molly Malia Arii as Ellen, and Noelle Lidyoff as Kirsti) were extremely talented and believable. Their hard work and dedication (as well as the entire cast) was visible as they stay true to the character Lowry's created.  I was extremely pleased with this performance and am eager to see the additional productions from Phantom Projects under the direction of Cisneros.  It's not often a cast and director take a chance on a book that only a few may have heard of-- those of you that have read the story understand fully how brilliant it is to take this story to stage, especially in light of recent events.

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Art Exhibit Currently on Display at Activity Center Through November 21st E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Monday, 16 November 2015 19:16

La Mirada~The Arts Colony of La Mirada enthusiastically invites the public to view their annual “Mirrors of your Mind” art show currently being held at the La Mirada Activity Center through November 21st from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, excluding weekends.

An array of fine local artists have displayed their artworks for your enjoyment. The closing awards reception will be held on Saturday, November 21, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Activity Center is located at 13810 La Mirada Blvd., behind the fire station. The show is installed in the upstairs library which has easy access by elevator or stairs. For more information call 562-902-3160, 562-941-4116 or 562-448-3427.

 
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