|3 entries found. Viewing page 1 of 1.
|April 13, 2012 |
| Go Billy! |
|Posted By Trevi |
Having just graduated from the World Arts and Cultures department at UCLA last June, I took a couple performance studies classes which, while exceptionally grueling, were begrudgingly interesting and are still highly applicable to daily life. With this very brief intro to performance studies under my belt, I feel like I could sit down and write a ten-page essay on
Billy Elliot the Musical--but I'll save that for another time and place. I will, however, tell you that if you have not yet seen this fantastic production, you should
run to the Pantages now,
before you miss it.
I absolutely adored the movie and have seen it at least ten times, if not more. It was one of those movies that was so moving--the heartache, the frustration, the sweetness--I cried every single time I watched it. But I haven't seen Billy Elliot in years, so while I remember the basic plot, the musical felt very fresh.
My friend Meaghan came with me on Tuesday night to see
Billy Elliot the Musical and she agreed that because stage is much different than film, the production's director and art director are able to interpret scenes in a new way that elegantly interlaces the two main plot lines. I was only twelve or thirteen when the film was released, so the complex contrast between the stories of Billy and his striking coal miner father and brother were probably lost on me anyway, given my youth, my lack of political awareness, and my lack of worldly experience. But seen on the stage as a 24-year old the irony of Billy's father and brother fighting for justice while ignoring the excruciating oppression and injustice they cause Billy is unavoidable and heartbreaking. The spectacular Act I finale cements this conflict beautifully, when Billy's father forbids him from participating in the Royal Ballet's auditions and Billy proceeds to dance angrily (this time his choreography heavily influenced by modern dance, rather than the graceful and often peaceful ballet), first in his bedroom but then, when the set drops away, in front of and against riot police and their bullet proof shields. The result is striking, terrifying, and almost relieving, as if Billy is dancing for all the times you were a teenager and were forbidden from doing something you cared deeply about-and even for all the injustice happening in the US and the world in 2012.
Seems apropos, doesn't it?
For all the seriousness and sadness in
Billy Elliot The Musical there is also plenty of humor. Michael (played by, I believe, Jacob Zelonky on Tuesday)-Billy's chubby, cross-dressing friend-provides perfectly-timed comic relief; the kid's hilarious. (He is usually silly, but the character of Michael also brings up further notions of "queerness"-an idea that deserves to be more fully fleshed out in that ten- or perhaps fifteen-page paper!) Also flexing her comedic muscles is Regan Mason Haley as Tracey Atkinson, one of Mrs. Wilkinson's other ballet pupils. Grandma also offers some curmudgeonly comedy, but it's often bittersweet. She has a song that definitely made my eyes well up!
Despite all the wonderful things happening on stage in
Billy Elliot The Musical, there were a couple weak points. The actor who played Billy on Tuesday night was spectacular and, of course, adorable. But his accent was a bit forced, and unfortunately the bathroom scene where Mrs. Wilkinson convinces Billy to take classes with her was not nearly as passionate as it is in the film.
But my main complaint? Where's all the T. Rex music? I desperately wanted to hear some
I Love to Boogie. It could have even been during curtain call! But no such luck.
After the show, Meaghan and I ran across the street to Wood & Vine to grab a drink. I'd been here once to work at a
Hollywood Arts Council membership mixer, but only had a margarita (the special that night). This time we both got a couple of exotic-and insanely good-cocktails. I started out with a Magnolia (Rain cucumber vodka, ginger honey, cucumber, and lime juice) which was extremely light and refreshing-and I'm not usually a vodka person. Meaghan got a standard whiskey drink, maybe an old fashioned, which she said was tasty. After making friends with a Canadian couple in town for the woman's 30
th birthday, we ordered another round. I decided to try the Aviation (New Amsterdam gin, Maraschino, Crème de Violette, lemon juice) which was spectacular, and Meaghan tried the Sazerac, an amazing combination of Old Overholt rye, Peychaud's absinthe, and simple syrup. Yowza! I really like Wood & Vine-it's perfect for a post-theatre drink (late night happy hour!) or bite. Their hushpuppies are ridiculous.
Magnolia on the left, whiskey on the right
After Wood & Vine the birthday girl invited us up to their king suite at the Redbury up the street. If you have never been to the Redbury,
go! I had never seen the inside, and it's the coolest thing ever. Everything is red and moody, with giant black and white photos of Old
Hollywood stars like Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo tucked into dark corners. It's all very luxe and sexy. And their room was fantastic. With a glass of wine in hand, we listened to some music, sat on their covered balcony, and watched the rain fall onto the Knickerbocker apartments next door. After our glass of wine, we parted ways (with a new place to stay if we ever visited
!) and trudged down a very wet and slippery Walk of Fame.
Could she be any more rad?
It was just another night in
Billy Elliot the Musical
runs at the Pantages Theatre thru May 13. Check our calendar for dates and times.
Wood & Vine
is located in the Taft
6280 Hollywood Blvd.
The Redbury Hotel
is located at
1717 Vine St.
|Continue reading "Go Billy!" » |
|December 02, 2011 |
| Wicked |
|Posted By Trevi |
I was raised in a family that REALLY likes The Wizard of Oz. We do not own a copy and watch it sometimes. No, we own an old VHS, a new VHS, and a limited edition DVD that came in a Yellow Brick Road box set with a reproduced copy of the script, a book about the making of the film, and a commemorative wristwatch. And when we come across it on television we shout to each other from the other room, "
The Wizard of Oz is on!!!!" as if we have no other means by which to watch it. As a child,
The Wizard of Oz often acted as my babysitter. I'm an only child so when my mother was cooking in the kitchen or working in another room, I'd get to watch
The Wizard of Oz. I'm fairly certain that was the genesis of my recurring chased-by-tornadoes nightmare. We literally had a family viewing party (all 10 or so of us) at my parent's house to see if
The Dark Side of the Moon really
does match up (note: it totally does and it's awesome). We're the kind of people who think it's not just normal but expected to exclaim, "How 'bout a little
fire, Scarecrow!" whenever anyone lights a match.
I'm not afraid of anything...except a lighted match.
Needless to say, when I was graciously invited to attend opening night of Wicked at the
Pantages Theatre on December 1
st, I figured I should take my mother and make a night of it.
I left the Discover Hollywood office and met my mom at Off Vine, a little bungalow of a restaurant that is, quite literally, off Vine St. It was adorable! There are a million little white tables with fairy lights outside, but unfortunately it was way too cold to sit on the porch. Luckily it was nice and toasty inside, and charmingly decorated with wreaths and lights for the holidays.
The New American menu is impressive, with entrees like Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Ravioli, Braised Short Ribs, and Wild Atlantic Salmon topped with sautéed garlicky veggies. Astoundingly-to me, anyway-they have an entire vegan section on the menu! I tried the Pistachio Encrusted Vegan Chicken. Much to my dismay I'm allergic to nuts, so I had to nix the pistachios. The chicken is served with a (very) sweet mango sauce that I wished was a mango salsa instead, but it was still tasty. I missed the saltiness of the pistachios with it, though. The vegan garlic mashed potatoes were insanely good, and the side of green beans was seriously cooked to absolute perfection. Mom got an off-menu special: Tilapia, served with a chunky olive and veggie sauce, with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. She said the whole thing was absolute heaven. I got a glass of Pinot Grigio ($6 for a huge pour) and Mom got a cappuccino at the end of the night that looked delish. Oh and by the way, the bread is INSANITY and it comes with a little pot of fresh pesto that was immediately sopped up.
I apologize for all these terrible images,
my camera ran out of batteries and I forgot my charger
in Portland over Thanksgiving weekend!
This food was delicious though!
I want to take a separate paragraph to tell you that our waiter was incredibly sweet, funny, and seemed to genuinely care that we enjoyed our Off Vine experience. And we did! So thank you, kind sir.
Then it was off to the theatre! We parked a block or two away and, as if by design, walked right over Judy Garland's star on the Vine St. Walk of Fame.
Just as we arrived to pick up our tickets, Anne Heche and her family stepped out of their limo, greeted by a GIGANTIC crowd of paparazzi. I've never seen that scene in real life-it's mesmerizing. Everyone was silent. All you could hear was the clicking of the cameras and Heche's handler quietly saying, "Excuse us," and "Watch out." It was actually really interesting.
Anne Heche on the red carpet
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Other celebs were there, including Broadway, Television and Film favorites like Molly Ringwald, Candace Cameron Bure (who I sat one seat away from!), Kevin Sorbo, Regina King, and Patrick Warburton.
And the show was absolutely spectacular. Full disclosure: I had anticipated a little bit of cheese. But there was NONE! It was sweet and exciting and the songs were spectacular and catchy and sung to mind-blowing perfection. I'm sure you all know the basis of the show, but just in case: Wicked is the story of what happened in Oz
before Dorothy "dropped in."
Mamie Parris as Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) galumphs around the stage in true Elphaba/Wicked Witch/Elmira Gulch fashion. She has truly transformed herself into this character. But for how unrefined and antisocial she manages to act, Parris can still belt out a tune. I mean, this woman is a serious showstopper. I could not believe the notes she held, or for how long she held them.
Images courtesy of Broadway L.A. and the Pantages Theatre
Meanwhile Katie Rose Clarke flits around onstage, oftentimes stealing the scene as the sickeningly sweet and popular Glinda who you love to hate but also just love to love. Clarke's Good Witch is a brilliant Mary Katherine Gallagher/Elle Woods lovechild: blonde, brilliant, and popular, yet spastically desperate.
Separately and as an onstage team, Parris and Clarke are incredible in Wicked
. The two of them, combined with the rest of the show's amazing cast, as well as the gripping story makes this a super fun, if sometimes heartbreaking, production.
Off Vine is located at 6263 Leland Way, Hollywood, CA 90028
The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
Back by popular demand, Wicked is at the Pantages Theatre through January 29. Visit www.broadwayla.org for more information.
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|November 16, 2011 |
| Irish Hollywood |
|Posted By Trevi |
My friend Peter and I enjoyed a very Irish night out in Hollywood last night, and it was, in a word, epic.
The night started out at Dillon's Irish Pub, with an exorbitantly expensive Patron on the rocks for me and a super cheap pint of Guinness (or two) for Peter. We had both eaten dinner beforehand, so we just stuck to drinks, but I took a peek at the menu. Not much in the way of vegetarian fare, but for your average Joe, who presumably would be going to Dillon's to watch a soccer or basketball (RIP NBA) game with the dudes, there were a ton of delicious looking options. Plus, they had a page of specials with lots of Irish dishes. The little specials menu on the table had a page of desserts, many of which featured a whiskey caramel sauce, namely the Irish bread pudding: bread pudding, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled in whiskey caramel sauce. Oh my God I almost had to get it, but I resisted. Maybe next time...when I'm not saving up all my cheat days for Thanksgiving!
After we finished our drinks we walked literally two doors east to grab our tickets at the Pantages box office. This is the second time I've been to Dillon's before going to a show at the Pantages, and both times it has been a GREAT decision. You don't have to worry about parking all over again and, even when it is crowded (like it was the first time), Dillon's is a fun place to hang out for an hour or so.
So, what were we seeing at the Pantages that night, you ask? RIVERDANCE. It's back for this weekend only, on the Los Angeles leg of their farewell tour! Fifteen years ago to the day was their opening night at the Pantages, and they're back to say goodbye to Los Angeles for good-or at least for awhile.
When I think of Riverdance one of the first things that pops into my head is a scene from arguably the best episode of Friends ever:
His legs flail about as if independent from his body! This is a true statement. Although the Lord of the Dance has long since retired, the new
Riverdance lead, Craig Ashurst, is still incredibly impressive-not only with his footwork, but also in his ability to really work a crowd.
Peter and I both studied in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA-a department that is divided into Cultural Studies and Dance Studies. We were both on the Cultural Studies side of the department. Strangely enough, though, Peter is an amazing professional swing dancer. He teaches at schools and clubs all over the city, and is seriously talented. But neither of us had ever been to or thought about going to Riverdance before, so we sort of knew what to expect, but nothing could prepare us for the epicness of the show.
Everyone involved in Riverdance is insanely talented, but the best part of the show was how passionate and super
into it they were throughout the entire performance. Keep in mind, too, that there aren't just dancers in
Riverdance; singers and a live band make up the rest of the cast. A lone drummer (Mark Alfred) kept the beat the entire show, dancing along with the other performers between two combined drum kits. He never missed a beat. On the opposite side of the stage were three other musicians: a fiddler (Pat Mangan) with the fastest hands I have ever seen, a saxophonist (Dave McGauran) who had a sweet number with just him and the drummer toward the end of the show, and Matt Bashford who played the uilleann pipes and low whistles. I know nothing about traditional Irish instruments (I have no idea how a bagpipe works), but I'm pretty sure the uilleann pipes was the instrument he played that sort of sounded like bagpipes but it was a string instrument that was controlled with something that looked like a weird, giant version of a whammy bar. He had a solo at the very beginning of the show that was really amazing.
The musicians and dancers, including Ashurst and the female lead Caterina Coyne, really know how to keep an audience riveted. They made eye contact with people in the audience (probably including Cloris Leachman-she was sitting in the row in front of us!!), clapped to make everyone clap along (not that the audience needed help with this), shouted, and generally looked like they were having a great time. Not one step was missed, and they made it look like fun-rather than the intense work it surely is. Coyne glides and bounces between the other dancers like a fawn-quickly, gracefully, and smoothly.
Between the intense performers, the grand music, and the broad historical range of the production, Riverdance is epic in every sense of the word. They begin at what looks like some sort of a paganistic Stonehenge-esque location and end up in approximately 1930s Harlem. Epic
and a really fun show! It kept everyone in the audience bouncing and clapping in their seats. My only complaint was a strange scene that involved 5 extremely impressive dancers, but left me feeling very confused.
After intermission the audience is transported to the white-sailed ships of the 19th century and is serenaded with a beautiful song that touches on themes of inequality. Immediately after this song the Irish folk apparently disembark the boat and find themselves in 1840s tenement New York. For some reason, though, Ashurst and his gang run into some African American tap dancers who, it would seem, are supposed to be from 1930s Harlem. And they proceed to have a dance off. The dancing is more than impressive-it's nearly inhuman! Everyone's lightning-quick footwork and humor was definitely the audience's favorite part of the show. But it sort of changed the number into a scene from Newsies. On the surface it added some lightheartedness to the show, but in reality it touched on heavy racial and economic class themes that, had they been more fully fleshed out, could have been fascinating (barring the lack of historical continuity). Unfortunately, the show just doesn't have enough time to address those very important and interesting issues.
Nevertheless, Dillon's and Riverdance were both really fun. Peter and I are both ecstatic that we were able to go! If you haven't seen the show yet, or honestly even if you have, you're in for a treat!
Dillon's Irish Pub is located at 6263 Hollywood Blvd. in the heart of Hollywood.
The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd., also in the heart of Hollywood.
Riverdance runs from November 15th to November 20th. Remaining shows include: Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6:30pm.
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|3 entries found. Viewing page 1 of 1.