Entertainment & Arts
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.

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.

Lois Lowry's Newbery Award-Winning "Number the Stars" Makes Its L.A. Premiere at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:21

La Mirada~Phantom Projects Theatre Group will bring Lois Lowry’s dramatic story about the Danish Resistance during World War II to life at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, one-day-only, November 19th, 2015. Tickets can be obtained by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at 562 944 9801 or visiting:

The novel, which debuted in 1990, is based on one of the biggest selling books aimed at young audiences. But, as FORBES indicated in a feature on the troupe, “Phantom Projects isn’t children’s theatre, its powerful theatre aimed at one of the hardest audiences to reach.”

The story centers on ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen (Veronica McFarlane), who lives with her family in Copenhagen in 1943. She becomes a part of the events related to the rescue of the Danish Jews, when thousands of Jews were helped to reach neutral ground in Sweden in order to avoid being deported to concentration camps. She risks her life to help her best friend, Ellen Rosen (Molly Malia Arii), by pretending that Ellen is Annemarie's late older sister Lise, who had died earlier in the war as a result of her work with the Danish Resistance.

The production, under the direction of Phantom Projects’ co-founder and Producing Artistic Director Steve Cisneros, is a faithful adaptation of the book. In anticipation of the premiere, the entire cast and creative team was presented with special 25th Anniversary Editions of the book, signed by the author herself, Lois Lowry.

REVIEW: "Cast Doesn't Fail" in La Mirada Production of RENT E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Saturday, 31 October 2015 23:00

The Company performs "Seasons of Love" in the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment production of the Tony Award-winning "RENT" - directed by Richard Israel and now playing at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts through November 15th.

One of La Mirada's greatest places to visit is the Theatre for the Performing Arts.

How lucky are we residents to have Broadway shows and stars grace the stage of our community theatre? The number of shows and variety more so has offered my husband and me a great reason to find time for a date night sans children. Not to say that our children's theatre shows aren't great--- they are!

However, when I want to rock out to some classic rock, take in a musical, or simply have a good cry, there is always a show I can take in at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts and this time around, it just so happens that we were lucky to take in RENT.

I went in to seeing RENT knowing that it would knock my socks off. Then again, the opinion I received about how fabulous the show would be was from a good friend who has seen it ten times. You read that correctly, ten times. Both her and her husband had their reviews about the different performers who have taken on the role of Mark, Roger, Mimi, Tom, Angel, Maureen, and Joanne.

Of course, I didn't know who any of these characters were until the curtain dropped at the end of the evening. To say that I was pleasantly pleased is an understatement.

RENT is a musical, so expect plenty of singing and songs, oh the songs!  It wouldn't be considered PC for me to sing "Out Tonight" amongst my kiddos at home, but I've heard "Seasons of Love" sung by friends as well as the original cast years ago on an afternoon talk show appearance.

This cast doesn't fail you at all. Mark Whitten, Devin Archer, Lawrence Cummings, and John Devereaux' voices are gorgeous but Cummings definitely steals the spotlight in his performance as Angel and "Today 4 U".  And watch for the vocals of both Emily Goglia and Amber Mercomes, yes honey, on the same stage, singing the same song.  Wow.  Did I say wow?

I encourage you to take a date night for yourself and your main squeeze. Go see RENT. Don't deprive yourself of this opportunity to see what all the hype and history of this musical is about. And don't forget, No Day But Today!

RENT Opens for First Time at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Friday, 23 October 2015 16:53

La Mirada~La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts& McCoy Rigby Entertainment (2014 Ovation Award Nominee for Best Season!), announce the second show of their 2015-2016 season, RENT, book, music & lyrics by Jonathan Larson, musical direction by John Glaudini, choreography by Dana Solimando and directed by Richard Israel (Floyd Collins).

RENT will preview on Friday, October 23, 2015 (with a press opening on Saturday, October 24) and run through Sunday, November 15, 2015 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada.

An all-new production of Jonathan Larson's story of talented friends struggling in New York City in 1995 with drug addiction, AIDS, and poverty is one that transcends to current times.   Mark, Roger, and Tom are friends living in the East Village of New York City.  While Mark deals with the break up to his girlfriend Maureen to Joanne, Roger meets Mimi and Tom meets Angel.  Together, they all strive for a life not full of riches but of love and the right to express such uniquely. Dashed with humor, this intensely emotional masterpiece by the late Larson is passionate and rocks with musical numbers and vocals.

RENT stars Mark Whitten, Devin Archer, John Devereaux, Lawrence Cummings, and Cassie Simone, Emily Goglia, and Amber Mercomes.  Ensemble includes, Cooper Howell, Chassey Bennett, Daniel Dawson, Alyssa M. Simmons, Luke Monday, John Pinto Jr., Craig Michael Lucas, Aaron Gordon, and Chanel Edwards-Frederick.

RENT is directed by Richard Israel, choreographed by Dana Solimando, with musical direction by John Glaudini.  Casting Director: Julia Flores. Scenic Designer: Stephen Gifford. Costume Designer: Thomas G. Marquez. Lighting Designer: Steven Young. Sound Desinger: Josh Bessome.  Video Projection Design: Jonathan Infante.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages. This is theatre at its best -- exuberant, passionate, and joyous.

Performances will be 7:30pm on Wednesdays & Thursdays; 8pm on Fridays; 2pm and 8pm on Saturdays; and 2pm on Sundays. There will be no matinee performance on Saturday, October 24.  Talkbacks with the cast and creative team will be on Wednesday, October 28 and Wednesday, November 11.

Tickets range from $20 - $70 and can be purchased at La Mirada Theatre’s website, or by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student, Senior and group discounts are available.

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.


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