Ron Irwin Review (Examiner) of Hollywood Facade

Hollywood Facade – The Epic Musical
Ron Irwin
Burbank Entertainment Industry Examiner

The new musical “Hollywood Facade” instantly got my full, complete and joyous attention as it opened with a powerful and captivating rendition of the Leslie Briscusse and Frank Wildhorn classic “Facade” from the sensational hit musical “Jekyll and Hyde.” The entire five member cast delivered the song with power and poise and “Facade” is a great theatrical song. But to be completely honest it instantly fired up my personal memory of my beloved daughter Kari Irwin performing the same song along with the entire cast of the DOMA production of “Jekyll and Hyde” almost exactly two years ago. This is a great start on a personal level but then the show gets even better.

We are soon introduced to a group of people everyone in Hollywood knows because to be brutally honest to some extent we are them and they are us. A burned out and recently widowed former Broadway queen arrives in Hollywood with her young son determined to get him into the movies and make him a star. The son is more than eager and does have “the look.” Soon she “Executive Produces” (that means pays for at least in part) the production of a film based upon her script and starring her son. The assumptive well known Writer/Director at first declines interest but his attitude changes with the transfer of cash to his hands. The entire cast combined presents a group of Hollywood stereotypes we all know and love to talk about. They are vain and vacuous and driven in pursuit of fame and fortune. You quickly come to the understanding of “Hey I know these people.” It instantly becomes extremely fun to join in this theatrical journey.

The Writer/Director Peter Legacy is played by Jonathan Colunga. Colunga hails from Houston, Texas where he cut his teeth on stage while a sophomore in High School. He played Friar Lawrence in “Romeo and Juliet” before moving on to numerous professional theatrical engagements. He quickly proves that he has the vocal chops that could easily reach all the way to Broadway.

Legacy’s daughter Christine is portrayed by California native Courtney Daniels. Courtney has a solid background in music and has already traveled the world in a Disney production for two years. Her character Christine Legacy has reached her majority and is extremely tired of all the Hollywood pretense, a facade if you will.

Cynthia Caldwell has a long and deep background in musical theatre and her beautiful, rich and powerful voice clearly display her magnificent skills. In “Hollywood Facade” her character Sarah Dulane is the once glorious Broadway actress turned stage door mom with far more than a wee bit of interest in Peter Legacy.

Sarah’s son Billy Dulane is played by Spanish heart throb Dave Leon. Even I, an admitted lifelong raging heterosexual, could not avoid the obvious fact that Leon has truly stunning great looks. As I described him to my wife, “I am sure that Dave Leon is to women what Shakira is to most guys.” Happily his talent reaches well beyond his appearance. He delivers a solid Billy Dulane.

Gillian Morrow is a powerful Hollywood talent agent who is accustomed to getting what she wants professionally but she has failed at love. That character is brought brilliantly to life by Penn State University graduate, comedian and musician Beth Goldberg. In the end…well you will just have to see the end and then you will understand.

This most intriguing and deeply entertaining show evolves to a very unexpected and shocking conclusion. It is always the journey and not the destination that rules and in the case of “Hollywood Facade” currently premiering at the venerable Hudson Theatre in Hollywood it is truly a fascinating and often riveting journey. It is written and directed by Randall Gray who has written and directed 118 theatrical productions so far typically receiving high critical acclaim. It is also appearing in a very diminutive and intimate venue of less than 50 seats. However it is always quality and not venue size that matters. A really big show with a giant assembly of talent on an intimate stage makes for superb entertainment. Do check it out between now and August 24th at the Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90038. Reservations and information are available by calling 323-960-7776 or online at: http://www.plays411.com/Hollywood Facade.

Copyright 2014 Ron Irwin

http://www.examiner.com/review/hollywood-facade-the-epic-musical

Hollywood Facade – The Epic Musical

From the same people who brought you the 2013 Best New Musical of the Year “Ready For The Storm”, and the 2013 Best Revival of a Stage Play “True West” by Sam Shepard, Comes

Hollywood Facade

The Epic New Musical

Featuring, by special permission, music from some of the best known and well loved composers of our current time, opens July 11, 2014 at the Hudson Theatre Guild at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles, CA 90038.

Come Enjoy the great Andrew Lloyd Webber, Andy Chesterton, Frank Wildhorn, Claude-Michael Schonberg, Tim Rice, and many more in an amazing Love Story Epic Event!

 

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All About the Stage Mary E. Montoro reviews Los Angeles theater “Mandrake’s End”

 “Keep your friends close And your enemies closer.”

Joshua Townsend

“Don’t you ever die?”

Harry Mandrake to Byron Meade

Unfortunately, all good things have to end so a new chapter of life can emerge. In the last section of Randall Gray’s mesmerizing The Lake House Chronicles, starring the egomaniac and brilliant writer Byron Meade (this time played by the great Rich Neher) meet his end. Or does he? Writer/director Gray purposely keeps the audience guessing on whether Meade dies at last or continues to make hell for the surviving members. This irritating bug resembles the 1980s nighttime soap opera Dallas when fans had to wait until the fall who killed JR Ewing. Remember that. That blasted Byron Meade, does he live? Is he dead? No, seriously, is he dead? Will he die? The last chapter is no different from the previous two. Just when you think you got it figured out, another twist comes in and completely changes the scene.

Famous mystery writer Byron Meade (Rich Neher) is living comfortably at the lake house with his first love Evelyn Townsend (the wonderful Wendy Rostker). It appears the couple is deeply in love. She remains with him after Byron tells her the sordid story on what has previously occurred. He considers Evelyn to be ‘his only true friend” and professes his love to Evelyn. As the couple reunite, Evelyn’s pissed-off child Josh (the excellent Dash Porter) ruins their moment. Josh reminds Meade that he is “dead” but his new identity as Richard Crowne is alive and kicking. Evelyn is still confused on what’s going on and quickly pours herself a drink. Apparently, the whole family turns to the bottle when bad news arrives.

It’s easy to understand why once you learn the broken family roots. Everything finally makes sense and comes to a brutal end. Let’s just say everybody gets what they so richly deserve. There are no “aw-shucks” moments or feeling bad for anyone. Gray does an excellent job in making it clear who the bad guy is and who’s the one that should live. Meade is somewhere in between, especially with Neher’s portrayal. His version is calmer and less combative. His character tries to find a solution to the many chaotic moments in the story.

Jay Antonos, who played Meade in Dead Men Have No Voice and Lakehouse Project plays him rough and ready to do battle. By the last episode, Meade becomes more relaxed and accepts the wrongs he did to others especially his daughter Becky. Could it be, Meade has found peace and is willing to lead a legit life as a husband and father? That’s all up to creator Randall Gray, who does an excellent job as escape convict Harry Mandrake. He beautifully shows off Harry’s descent into madness when he takes the family hostage at the lakehouse and that’s when the fun really starts as the truth is revealed with steady accuracy and painstakingly details.

If you haven’t been able to watch the first two episodes, no need to worry. The third installment answers many questions and even discloses a few surprises. Mandrake’s End plays Fridays (May 23rd and 30th) and Saturday, (May 24th) at 8 p.m., until Saturday, May 30th, at the Hudson Theatre Complex, located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood. For ticket information, call (323) 960-7776 or reserve online at http://www.plays411.com/mandrake

New Review of Mandrake’s End

I only caught one production on the weekend to tell you about

Mandrake’s End

From l, Dash Porter, Wendy Rostker, and Jay Antonos in “Mandrake’s End.”

A World Premiere murder mystery and the third in a trilogy of related plays. Written with complex and eerie suspense by Randall Gray, this one marks the final segment in his “Lake House Chronicles,” and the trio will be united as a motion picture in 2015. Although this production stands on its own as a compelling evening of theater … having not seen the prior two plays, it was tricky for me to follow at times. However, all was revealed and explained in the final scenes. With more “twists ‘n’ turns” than a roller coaster … this is a wild ride! Directed by the playwright with suspenseful pizzazz, assisted by Barb Woods, the dark secrets of his characters revealingly explode, one after another. Set in modern day … the story unfolds at the eclectic lakeside home of world class murder mystery writer, Byron Meade (passionately played by Jay Antonos). The complex and eye appealing set design … also by the multifaceted playwright, set the mood brilliantly! Dealing with the darkly deceitful realities of Byron’s family secrets through the years, he invites the forever “love of his life” Evelyn to his home for dinner (a heartfelt Wendy Rostker), along with her grown son Joshua, who is Byron’s protégé (played with youthful exuberance by Dash Porter). Byron, reflecting on his life up until now, must face the bitter truths of his darkly secretive past, and try to make amends. At the same time, he must advise his daughter, Rebecca, and her estranged husband Christopher, who are facing complications of their own (solid performances by Erin Poland and Sean Randall Crayne). As the complex plot unfolds, Harold Mandrake, the villain in all the others’ existence, returns to complicate their lives further. As devious and hateful as ever, he is out for blood … and no one’s destiny is secure. Who will survive and at what cost? The playwright, Randall Gray, who never performs in his own plays, makes an exception this time … and plays the conniving and heartless Harold Mandrake with creepy and heartless zeal. I’ve given you as much of the plot as I dare … without spoiling your journey, when you see it. For a complex and eerie theatrical experience … this is one to catch. The Hudson Theatre Complex is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles running thru’ May 30. For reservations call (323) 960-7776 or online at plays411.com/mandrake.

So far, I have no plays booked for next weekend … but that can change in a flash! On May 9, I will cover the opening night performance of The Ghost of Gershwin, at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.

Hot Tip … If you also book seats for “Opening Night” … you will enjoy a complimentary buffet of food and desserts … and a chance to chat with the cast afterwards. This has been a long standing “treat” at all of The Group Rep’s opening night performances. Call (818) 763-5990 to reserve your seats.

Mandrake’s End – Opens April 19th

Mandrake’s End

Mandrake

A Murder Mystery Dramedy

Stages of Gray Theatre Company – Resident Theatre Company at Famed Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Available paid parking on Hudson Drive across from the theatre.

WHEN: April 19 to May 30, 2014. Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on April 25 and May 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30.

Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. on April 19 & 26, as well as May 3, 10, 17, and 24.

ADMISSION: $25. Check Promo Code for Discounts on line.

RESERVATIONS: (323) 960-7776.

ONLINE TICKETING: www.plays411.com/mandrake

 

“Mandrake’s End,” set in modern day, finds Byron Meade, world class murder mystery writer, at his lake house to deal with his convoluted plot to recapture portions of his life that he feels he has lost.  Byron has to deal with the ever-twisting realities of his family life,                                        which is not something that he has ever been good at.  Bringing the love of his life, Evelyn Townsend to the lake house for dinner with her son and Byron’s protégé, Joshua Townsend, Byron is forced to finally face the truth of who it is he has become, and what if anything, can be done to make something better of what is left of his life.  In yet another convoluted set of mysterious scenarios, Byron must help his daughter, Rebecca Devlin come to grips with the results of decisions she has made in her life.  Not to mention the fact that he must deal with her husband, Christopher Devlin, and a tumultuous situation that he has placed himself in which could well cause everyone in the family to lose their lives.  Former school friend now nemesis Harold Mandrake has found a way to take Byron’s firm away from him, as well as his flat in the city.  Now Harold is out for blood, and he has no intentions of stopping until he gets it.

 

More Audience Feedback on “Dead Men Have No Voice”

“Mere words don’t explain it; this show needs to be experienced to understand the sheer beauty, intelligence, humor, and conniving plot twists that make this production truly fantastic to experience.  I cannot wait to see the final episode.”                                                                               Tyler – Canoga Park

“The story moves at a good pace and always keeps you guessing.  The use of the colored lights was fantastically splendid, I look forward to seeing the movie.”                                           Anthony – Burbank

“Great technical work throughout, and the actors interface with the audience was brilliant.”                                                                                                                                                                              Kyle – West Lake Village

“Twisted, dark, hauntingly demented: This installment of “The Lake House Chronicles” takes the audience even deeper into the sick and yet still mysterious and entertaining minds of the complex characters.”                                                                                                                                Zach – Los Angeles

“It was amazing.  I loved the energy and all the plot twists of the play.  The actors did a truly great job.”                                                                                                                                             Oscar – Los Angeles

“The show was amazing!  I was enthralled the entire time.  I kept praying Byron Meade would come back to life….I can’t wait for the final installment.”                                                          Josh – Burbank

“After seeing the first half of the play, my thoughts were that the well engaged in their parts and performed well together on stage.  My opinion was only enriched with the second half.”                                                                                                                                                                                   Graham – Westlake Village

“Great presentation!!  A lot of action and many aspects of wandering just which way things would go!! Excellent!!”                                                                                                                                 Joanne – Illinois

“Excellent acting and phenomenal story’ can’t wait for the final installment!!!”              Claire – Culver City

“Enjoyed it very much!  Looking forward to the final episode!  What a Story!!!”            DiAnn – Century City

“Unbelievably entertaining and funny.  Did not see the first episode, but this one filled me in just fine.  Can’t wait to see the final episode!!”                                                                                   Dillon – Moorepark

Review of Dead Men Have No Voice From Mary Montoro – All About The Stage

Mary E. Montoro                             All About the Stage

 

DEAD MEN HAVE NO VOICE

 “Chris is in a psychiatric ward, he’s basically on a holiday from life.”

Byron Meade said talking about Chris Devlin

The fun never stops. We last saw renowned mystery writer Byron Meade (Jay Antonos) dead, and having left his assistant Joshua Townsend (Bobby Dean) his estate. Townsend returns with his lover Rebecca “Becky” Devlin (Rachel Kotin) who is visibly upset that her father didn’t leave the financial firm to her after his death. He suffered a heart attack when he heard that his son-in-law Christopher went to prison. The audience learns that this was not possible as the late Byron Meade actually owned the firm, and sold it before his death to someone named Richard Crowne. This causes the young woman to imbibe cocktail after cocktail to ease her troubled mind. She polishes off a bottle of wine in less than 10 minutes. Joshua tries to calm his lover but doesn’t succeed. Between these two individuals, they have enough secrets to be on the cover of People magazine.

Nobody steals from Byron Meade! From the ashes, the arrogant asshole resurfaces. He returns as if he came back from a long holiday. He sees Joshua living comfortably at the lake house, and Becky spending far more time there than he would normally approve of. All Byron needs is his passport which, of course, Joshua doesn’t give it to him, at first. They struggle as Becky watches in horror but, she has a drink so everything is okay with her.  During this tumultuous family reunion, Christopher (Matthew Domencio) breaks out of jail with the help of a fellow con, who’s serving a 24 stretch for the for rape and kidnaping of a woman, named Harry (Mark Youngs). In return for helping Chris, Harry is promised to be able to take what he likes from the lake house for his own financial gain. Harry goes straight to the cozy retreat and finds he’s not alone.

This is the second in a trilogy of writer/director Randall Gray’s The Lake House Chronicles who continues to set up another chilling story that will leave you a little lost, there’s a lot going on family wise, but definitely satisfied.

Jay Antonos returns as the feisty alpha male writer Byron Meade. He brings back Meade’s insufferable ego and manipulative soul. He has a new cast to work with and like the audience, they are just as captivated and perhaps a little bit disgusted, at this demi-god in front of them. Bobby Dean takes over the role as the ambitious yet sympathetic Joshua Townsend. He brings forth a strong sense of vulnerability and toughness when necessary. Kotin (pronounced Coat-ien) does a great job as the alcoholic lover with too much going on. Like Dean, the actress brings forth sympathy which requires a handy list of Alcoholic Anonymous locations and times. You have to feel bad for the girl. Her father dies and leaves her nothing. Her husband escapes and tells his rapist friend to stay at the lake house. She’s got some serious issues that cannot be solved like a half hour comedy television series.

It’s Gray’s wicked imagination that continues to make both the characters and their current scenarios fascinating and addictive to watch. All eyes are on Antonos as the know-it-all Meade. Once again, Antonos tunes in to his character oversized ego and delivers each time. Dean holds is own as Meade’s protégé and partner-in-crime.  Kotin is the heart light in this grim noir conveying a tenderness that complements the dark side. Harry brings out another element that is vital to this segment. For once, at least now, everyone must stick together so this maniac can go back where he came from and continue his long stretch.

Once again Randall Gray has another sensation with his poised pen.

Dead Men Have No Voice plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. until Saturday, April 12th, at the Hudson Theatre Complex, located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood. For ticket information call (323) 960-7776 or reserve online at www.plays411.com.