Tag Archives: Hollywood Fringe Festival

Monday mashup 2018: vol. 7

Mother Nature has made it clear these past few days that she’s not ready for spring yet here in Montana, as we have been bombarded with snow, high winds and sub-zero temperatures.  Regardless of the weather, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival kicked off last Friday night with a sold-out screening of the film Dark Money, attended by our very own Governor.  Attendance at other screenings on Saturday, Sunday and today have been high, including quite a few sell-outs, including Forever B, the one I attended tonight about kidnap victim Jan Broberg, a child kidnap victim and author of Loss of Innocence.

We have a bit of news for you today, as well as four new singles and three new music videos, so let’s get to it.


Referred to as the “The Six-String Siren,” LA Music Critic Award winner Diana Rein has announced the launch of a crowd-funding campaign for her upcoming album, Queen Of My Castle. The follow-up to her critically-lauded 2016 release Long Road, Queen Of My Castle is being co-produced by Michael Leasure (drummer extraordinaire with the Walter Trout Band).

“The new album is a collection of 15 songs, with one of those songs being a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan,” says Rein, just back from representing Guitar Girl Magazine at the 2018 NAMM Conference.  Rein is the featured artist for the month of April in their 2018 Calendar.  “There’s a lot of traditional blues, as well as high energy, upbeat, and blues-rock songs that I know you guys will love. This album will be lucky #3 for me and my first full-band album.  I loved making my last record on my own, but I am really looking forward to challenging myself this time around and collaborating with the pros.”


The Hollywood Fringe Festival is getting ready for their ninth run June 7-24, and is looking for interns and volunteers, specifically in the areas of Fringe Central Set Design, Events, Volunteer Coordinator and Cabaret.  Interning with the Fringe is the best way to get hands on experience behind the scenes of the largest performing arts festival in the west.  Interns work directly with Fringe staff to help run various aspects of the festival.  Click the link for position details.  If you are interested, please submit a cover letter and resume to internships@hollywoodfringe.org.  Please specify which position you are interested in.  The deadline to apply is April 1.


Here’s the first single from the forthcoming album People Person by Everett Bird.  The single is entitled “Bucket of Dark Meat,” and we think you’ll like it.  It is different from many of the songs featured here, so get ready to try something new.

Next up is “The Monster” from LA based garage rock band Bird Concerns.  This one truly rocks.

Our third single today is from folk singer songwriter Brown Kid.  It is definitely a step down energy wise from the previous song, but it is different enough to pass on to you.  The song is entiled “Sunrise” and we want to hear your feedback.

Our final single today is from another LA Music Critic Award winner, Sleep Machine.  They are releasing their newest album one song at a time.  Here is “Mother.”


Our favorite Italian rock band is back with another hot video.  Check out “Never Obey” from Black Mamba.  We guarantee this one will rock your sock.

Our next video is the latest from Allison Iraheta and Mathew Hager, aka Halo Circus.  It is a video for their single “Narcissist,” which we debuted two weeks ago.  Please let us know what you think.

Blue Élan Records continues to bring back classic bands, and the latest to return is Fanny Walked the Earth.  Here is the video for “Lured Away,” their first single in 34 years.


Monday mashup 2018: vol. 5

Well, the winners have now been announced for the LA Music Critic Awards for the second half of 2017, and the process starts all over for the first half of 2018.  Any indie artist is eligible to participate as long as they have a single, music video, CD or EP released between December 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.  We’ll continue our reviews tomorrow with five more artists, but today, we share news from the indie music world, as well as debut new singles and music videos.  Here we go.


A few years back we experienced this company when we attended a Peter Frampton concert at the Greek in Los Angeles.  It allows fans to buy a copy of the concert they have just experienced so they can relive that experience.

Exit [Live] has now announced they are making the technology available to all artists, major and indie, to sell their concerts and vintage recordings directly to their fans.  This is a major win for indie artists everywhere who are trying to gain a more global following.  For artists, it is also profitable, with 80% of sales going back to the artist.

The platform will launch in early 2018, but you can check out their Facebook page now.


Founded in 2010, the Hollywood Fringe Festival is preparing for their ninth annual festivities.  Registration for participants opened on February 1 and runs through April 1.  Tickets will go on sale on May 1.

In order to foster artist and audience diversity, the Fringe initiated a scholarship program in 2016 to allow more participation by artists facing challenges that might prevent them from being a part of the Festival.  Each scholarship takes care of the registration costs, provides a $550 stipend towards their production and venue costs, and gives them a Fringe mentor, as well as marketing and networking opportunities as a member of the Fringe community.  The winners of the 2018 Fringe Scholarships are: 

  • Baba, Jee (Father, Yes): Maria, the daughter of a Pakistani father and an American mother, lives in New York City with her boyfriend Dave. On the eve of Hurricane Sandy, her father (Baba) comes to visit from Pakistan for the first time in years. Trapped inside while the storm rages on, Maria, Dave, and Baba must all confront their differing views on culture, love, and expectations.
  • Unapologetically Black: Unapologetically Black is a true story about Misty Monroe trying to fit in as a black woman (with a white name) who grew up in both South Central Los Angeles (predominately black) and the naval bases of Northern California (predominately “other”). The desire to “fit in” is universal and Unapologetically Black takes you on the journey of a black woman who gains the courage to stand out, unapologetically.
  • Trafficked 2.0: Trafficked 2.0 tells a story that occurs much too often and told not nearly enough. On her 13th birthday, a young girl is kidnapped and sold into the horrors of sex trafficking. The show uses the expressive movements of the body to represent a story that forces audiences to acknowledge the awful operations that are going on right under their noses, in their countries, in their neighborhoods, by people that they know.
  • Paisajes Marinos Con Tiburones y bailarines: “Seascape with Sharks and Dancer” is a 1974 play by Don Nigro. The story focuses on a young man, Ben, who saves a young woman named Tracy from the ocean outside his beach house. The production will be in Spanish, focused on attracting the latin community to the theater.
  • Love, Locs & Liberation: Blending poetry, song and humor, Ella unlocks the history of locs experienced by Black women, revealing many mishaps and triumphs. Through the eyes of 21 different characters, a 5th grade bully to Madam CJ Walker, she exposes the hair connection – to politics, identity and culture, illustrating why hair is an intimate and essential part of Black life.
  • I Came To Make Noise: I Came To Make Noise breaks the stereotype that women are expected to be quiet and agreeable. This groundbreaking work of theatre engages audiences with its use of dance, spoken word, and beatbox. This piece explores the inner most thoughts of a woman. The issues of race, politics, and sexual assault are presented through the lens of self-awareness.
  • Liao Zhai: Tale of Extraordinary: China is a two-syllable word with extreme complexity. History, philosophy, ideology, politics — we would be stuck having these intense and serious conversation for years. Even though we are Chinese, believe me, we don’t like that either. As an young ensemble theater company mostly consists of Native Chinese, we would like to share with you some mythical and fantastical stories that have been with us for centuries.
  • A Mile in My Shoes: “A Mile in My Shoes” is a solo show written and performed by veteran actor Kathryn Taylor Smith. In this 90 minute Poetic Dramedy (clever mix of poetry, drama & comedy) Kathryn depicts 12 characters based on research and personal interviews with past and present members of the homeless community (real & created) as well as those who advocate for them.
  • Gay Men Like Young Boys: Part adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” part social satire. The dark side of desire, gender roles, and the youth obsessed image-based gay community clash in this dark tale of love and revenge.
  • The Goddesses Guide: Adura for the Women of African Diaspora: Follow the revealing journey of three Yoruba goddesses as they grapple with the responsibility of creating a guide for black women trying to survive in a world that doesn’t always allow them to thrive.
  • Land of No Shadows: Combining the Japanese dance art of Butoh with experimental animation and puppetry, “Land of No Shadows” uses stark, striking visuals to portray a fluid relationship between puppet and puppeteer, reflecting our unstable, fluctuating social and emotional status as humans.


Our first new single this week comes from a band we have loved from the beginning.  Founded by former American Idol contestant Allison Iraheta and her husband, Matthew Hager, Halo Circus has reinvented itself as an electronic duo and has released “Narcissist,” the first single from their upcoming project.  Check out the new sound of the band, and let us know what you think.

Next up is Aja Warren, a new artist from the same management company that gave us Wendy Sweetlove.  Here’s her new single, “Show me the Magic.”  We think you’ll love it as much as we do.

Kim DiVine is a past LA Music Critic Award winner who has consistently delivered outstanding music.  Klvr Grl has done a remix of one of her songs, and we wanted to share it with you.  Please check out “Broken Bird (Klvr Grl remix).”

Our final single today comes from Gundelach for their breakout single, “Duck Hunting.”  Please let us know what you think.


Our first video today comes from Kris Angelis, another past LA Music Critic Award winner.  Here’s her video for “Please Come Back Home,” filmed on a family trip to Carmel, California.

Next up is a video from one of the most recent LA Music Critic Award winners, Jason Hawk Harris, formerly of The Stone Ponies.  This is an acoustic video for his single, “Phantom Limb.”

For all you Tesla fans out there, here is the latest video from guitarist Frank Hannon from his solo acoustic project.  This is a cover of the Allman Brothers Band classic song, “Blue Sky.”  We dig it.

Last but not least, here’s the latest provacotive video from The Scared Crows about the Harvey Weinstein controversy.  Check out “Harvey Talk.”

We’ll be back tomorrow with our next round of reviews in Get it or Forget it.  See you then.

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 24

Spent the last few days recuperating from our whirlwind trip to California for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, as well as our first winners showcase for the LA Music Critic Awards.  So happy to be back in Montana and ready to let you know about some of the great things happening in indie music.


This year’s Festival, their eighth and biggest one to date, ran June 8 through June 25.  The event, which included 375 shows and more than 2,000 performances, culminating in a magnificent awards show that final night at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre which was attended by more than 800 people.  We gave out our first Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence.  Thanks to Fringe TV, here’s a compilation video of highlights from the awards show.


Former Los Angeles and now Nashville based singer-songwriter Kelly McGrath just released her latest single on iTunes on June 30.  Through the first 24 hours, this new song was her most downloaded single on iTunes – way to go indie music!  If you want to grab a copy for yourself, here’s the link.


Megan Flechaus is an amazing artist who is primed to burst onto the indie music scene.  She is currently working on her next album project, and recently released her new single, “What We’ve Got” under the band name FlecHaus.  Let us know what you think.


Kris Angelis recently broke into the Top 10 on iTunes when she released her latest EP Heartbreak is Contagious.  This is her new single from that EP, and we think it rocks.  Let us know what you think.

The Spider Accomplice has made a lot of noise in the past couple of years, garnering six LA Music Critic Awards.  They are well on their way to more kudos with this lyric video for their tune “Atmosphere.”  Forget your Monday blues and get your rock on!

Last but not least this week, check out this video from DJ Polique, which features Jacob Luttrell (indie musician and hit songwriter for Enrique Iglesias, Flo Rida, Sia, Pitbull), as well as Snoop Dog and Follow Your Instinct.  We think it may be the biggest hit of the summer.

HFF 17 ends with presentation of awards

The 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival ran June 8-25, and included 375 shows and more than 2,000 performances.  The eighth annual Festival concluded with more than 800 in attendance at the awards show held at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, hosted by Festival Director Ben Hill and Communications Director Stacy Jones Hill.  The awards that were handed out came from two sources – the Fringe Freaks Community Awards, given by the Fringe staff and voted on by participants, industry and patrons, and the Sponsored Awards, given by various companies for a designated reason.  Here is the list of awards handed out.

Fringe Freaks (Community Awards):

Sponsored Awards:

ShoWorks Don’t Wait. Create! AwardChimpskin

The Screamiest:   A(partment 8)

The Spirit of the Fringe, Never in a Box Award: TOYS

The Duende Distinction:  Christina Evans – Choreography – TOYS

Tip Your 2Cents Award for Distinctive Voices:  Chimpskin

The Ripest Show:  Definition of Man

A Little New Music Award for Outstanding Songwriting: Turbulence!

Larry Cornwall Award:  Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

Rogue Machine’s “Premiere” Award:  Urban Unrest – Urban Theatre Movement

Beyond Bechtel-Wallace Award: Thanksgiving

Diversity in American Theatre Award:  In the Valley of The Shadow

Soaring Solo Artist Award: Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

The Inkwell Playwright’s Promise Award: In the Valley of The Shadow

Short and Sweet Award:  CHATTER

O-Face Award for Orgasmic Achievement (Most Orgasmic Performance):  Yozmit Walker – Do You: Migration of the Monarchs

Best Fringe Flyer:  An Evening With John Wilkes Booth

The Unleashed Award:  Thanksgiving

The LAFPI Most Wanted Award:  Actors Company, Art of Acting Studio,  Assistance League Playhouse, Epiphany Space, Complex Theatres, Hudson Theatres,  Los Angeles LGBT Center, Rogue Machine @ MET Theatre, studio/stage, The Loft, Theatre of NOTE, Three Clubs, Thymele Arts, Urban Social House, The New Collective

The Encore! Producers Award:

Complex Theatres Video Games, Narcissus and Echo, Trixie: The Musical, Human Hothouse: The Aftershow, 13th Grade, Desert Warrior, Claim Jumper, Even If It’s Wrong, Toys, Confessions of an Arab Woman, Incantessimo, Mistero Buffo, Too Many Hitlers, Ripley’s Dystopia, Broke and Ugly, Mary’s Medicine, Under the Jello Mold, Slashed, An Evening with John Wilkes Booth, Do You. Migration of the Monarchs

Lounge TheatreBitch Brow, I’m Too Fat For This Show, Just Like Life, NICAEA, Sapo Cancionero: Live Your Heart Out, Thanksgiving, The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign, Transmission – A One Tran Show

Sacred Fools TheatreQuantum Entanglement, Bono & the Edge Waiting for Godomino’s, Easy Targets, Definition of Man, Divorce: The Hip Hop Musical, The Joe & Joshua Show!, Why We Become Witches, Kinsherf’s Coat, A Harmony Boy’s Christmas, Charlie Moose Makes His Move, 12 Bars, Urban Theatre Movement presents: Urban Unrest, The King’s Language, High Rise, Orange Mango Cabaret

Three ClubsBuffy Kills Edward, Shakespeare and Chill, Hot Dates, Legends of the Hidden Three Clubs, Psychosical, Nights at the Algonquin Round Table

Studio/StageBlamed: An Established Fiction, Nothing Bad: A Werewolf Rock Musical, Here Comes, Rutherford, Herpes: A Love Story, The Tempest: All Women Cast, So You Want to be a Vampire, The Spidey Project, Three Can Keep A Secret, MEXISTANI! Growing up Mexican and Pakistani in America, Gamers
The New CollectiveJust Sayin, Got A Minute, I Do … Do You?, Life, Death and … Entertainment

Actors CompanyA Void, Bravo 25, Dead Boys, Dying City, missmatch, Pagliaccis, Songs of the Fall, The Complete History of Drag in a Few Mo-mo, Trump in Space

Asylum6 Figures, 86’d, Andy: The Red Nosed Warhola, CHATTER, Cheek (and other stories), Chemo Barbie, CringeFest: An Uncomfortable Anthology, Devadasi, A Story of Sex, Power and Devotion, Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman, Homebody/ The Anxiety Cure, Just Old Woman from Old Country, Save Me a Spot!, Scarlet Pimpernel, SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS, Secure Storage, SNATCHED…Stories From Down There, Solomon: King Poet &, Lover – A Tale of One Man & 700 Wives, Space Play or The Number of Nothing, Terror on The High Seas, The Amitycode, The Brick – A One Man Musical, The Motherfucker With The Hat, The Rise and Fall of Dracula, The Sacred Beasts, The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski, This Our Now, Two Motherfuckers on a Ledge, Willy’s Lil Virgin Queen


Our favorite shows at HFF17

Well, the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival is in the books, and what a magnificent event it was this year.  There were 375 shows and more than 2,000 performances during the 17-day run, and we had the privilege of seeing 37 of those shows during our short nine days in Los Angeles.  Here are our top 10 shows.

10.  The Rise and Fall of Dracula.  This was our first exposure to immersive theater, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The show was wonderful created by Cassandra Ambe, perfectly executed by her cast, and was a true feast for the audience.

9.  Under the Jello MoldJennie Fahn is the consummate performer, who brought this story to life under the expert directorship of Tom Cavanaugh.  The story was so moving that my wife immediately texted her mom as soon as we left the theater.

8.  The Spidey ProjectTheatre Unleased outdid themselves again, and both of their productions made it into our Top 10 list.  We loved the songs, the performances and the cast of this show, which brought this origin story new life.  Well done!

7.  Three Can Keep a Secret.  The other Theatre Unleashed production, which was even more fun because of the audience interaction.  Great job of playwriting Mr. Crafts.  Perfectly casted and well done.

6.  Hey Hollywood My Hustle Has ADHDRasika Mathur was amazing in this delightful show about coming to terms with a particular brand of mental illness that I am all too conscious of.  We laughed and cried at her dramatic show, and the fringeship that came of it.

5.  The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign.  This show did not disappoint from the hype and buzz we heard, and we were extremely glad that we got to see it.  It was historically accurate and the amazing voice of Joanne Hartstone was a joy to our ears.  Thanks for coming from ‘down under’ to bring your magic to this year’s fringe.

4.  Chemo Barbie.  No previous fringe show has ever moved me the way this one did.  Hats off to Heather Keller for her amazing courage in sharing this very fresh story with us, and for giving us the inspiration to make each day our best day.  This is what Fringe is all about.

3.  Shakeslesque.  What else can be said about the amazing ladies (and gents) of Cherry PoppinsAlli Miller and Sarah Haworth Hodges have assembled the cream of the crop and have once again delivered a memorable and joyous good time.  It was so beautiful to see them get the recognition they deserved with their two Freak awards for Best Cabaret and Top of the Fringe.

2.  Turbulence.  Speaking of amazing, how about those guys and girls at Robot Teammate?  For the second year in a row, they have delivered a stunning original musical that has made even the local music scene stand up and take notice.  Congrats on your numerous awards, including Best Musical.

1.  MexistaniSofie Khan is amazing, both as an actress and a person.  Her show demonstrated that we still have a long way to go towards acceptance of people, especially those of mixed heritage.  But if nothing else, her show gave us hope that with people like Sofie leading the charge, we have a great chance of getting there.

We also wanted to give kudos to two venues that went out of their way to make Fringe special – Studio/Stage and Sacred Fools.  Even though they were “off the beaten path, Studio/Stage’s amazing line-up of shows made it easy to schedule and spend a block of time at the venue.  Sacred Fools made sure that patrons were well taken care of, proving free water and snow cones to help alleviate the heat.  Hats off to both of you!

Last but not least, that you to the participants, to the new fringeships from this year and the renewed ones from previous years.  You make Fringe the special place that it is, and the reason we drive 3,000 miles every year to be a part of it.



HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 9)

We’ve reached the end of our Fringe experience for 2017.  It was an amazing ride – 3,396 miles driven, 11 wonderful nights at Castle Zharinov, 20 new fringeships and countless more renewed.  And along the way we got to see 37 shows and give out our first Fringe award.  We will be back later with our own awards for the shows that we saw, so go ahead and follow our blog so you won’t miss anything.  Here are our final three reviews.

TITLE OF SHOWWhy we Become Witches

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Studio

REVIEW:  My wife really wanted to see this show, which is based on the novel, Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsman, written by Sylvia Townsend Warner.  It was not at all what we expected.  The best thing about the show was the dynamic performance by Lisa K. Wyatt, an amazing actress who has multiple television and film credits.  She brought the story to life and kept the audience firmly engrossed in the show.  Kudos to Kate Motzenbacker for a wonderful job of directing.  Congratulations on your Encore award.

RECOMMENDATION:  Definitely check this one out during the Encore run.  It is worth your time.

TITLE OF SHOWThe David Mayes Show

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Studio

REVIEWDavid Mayes and his brother JJ are staples at Sacred Fools.  We had heard mixed reviews about his show, so we had not added it to our schedule.  However on Saturday night, we sat and chatted with them at Fringe Central, and ended up receiving a pair of tickets to check out the show.  Much to our chagrin, it’s really good.  David has assembled the who’s who of Sacred Fools to populate this fake talk show and turned it into such a farce that you couldn’t help but laugh.  The biggest treat was finding out that one of our favorite actresses, Carrie Kerranen, of Lamprey fame, was an audience plant who crawled from the back row to the front row to be a part of the show.  Well done Sacred Fools!!

RECOMMENDATION:  Sad but true, The David Mayes Show is a must see.  Too bad it didn’t get an Encore.

TITLE OF SHOWI’m too Fat for This Show

VENUE:  Lounge Theatre 2

REVIEW:  We met Kate Huffman at our first Lounge show this year (Hey Hollywood My Hustle has ADHD) and after chatting with her a bit decided to close out our Fringe run this year with her show.  It was one of several this year about the struggles with real world issues.  While we loved her performance and applaud her efforts to be transparent about her struggle, we left the show feeling like the story was not yet complete, that merely accepting your condition is not the same as overcoming it.  In addition, the show’s 70 minute length is a little long for a solo show, and it might help to tighten it up a bit.  Overall, it was an amazing show, and we wish Kate well in her acting career.  Congrats on your Encore.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show and Kate Huffman in particular are worthy of your time and attendance.  We recommend you See this show during its Encore run.



HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 8) part 2

Continuing on with our reviews of a most intriguing day of Fringing.

TITLE OF SHOWOrange Mango Cabaret

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  This show was by far the most political one we have seen this year.  It reminded us of an evening of Jon Stewart, combined with a taste of Saturday Night Live.  The glue that kept it all together was the riveting performance of Sierra Taylor as the hostess, Friv O’ Less, and the guitar strumming of Dylan Peruti.  Sprinkled between her songs and monologues were six short plays about our events and attitudes that have shaped this current political climate.  The rest of the cast, which included Cole Wagner, Jax Ball, Daniel Ramirez, Celina Surniak, Celia Mandela, Kelly Goodman and Bart Tangredi, ably brought us those plays, which provided much food for thought.

RECOMMENDATION:  An interesting show with enough political gunpowder to ignite many a night of discussion.

TITLE OF SHOWMartha Washington Killed a Redcoat

VENUE:  The Other Stage at Actor’s Company

REVIEW:  A sterling comedy about the night of the Boston Tea Party, and the first Redcoat killed in the revolution.  Martha Jefferson, played by Corrine Mestemacher, who previously played Bella in Buffy Kills Edward, joins with Dolley Madison (Laura Lee Walsh) and Deborah Reed (Megan Barker) to cover up the murder of a Redcoat by Martha Washington (Katie Stevens) in this hilarious spoof of American history.  Wonderfully directed by Matt Richey, the show was well done with great pacing and laughs.  There were great performances by the supporting cast as well, but no programs were supplied so we can’t credit them by name.  We enjoyed laughing at this zany cast and the storyline of the first cover-up in American politics.

RECOMMENDATION:  Definitely worth seeing.  Check it out if it receives an extension.

TITLE OF SHOWThe Rise and Fall of Dracula

VENUE:  Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre

REVIEW:  We have not had much experience with immersive theater so we were totally unprepared for this awesome experience.  Starting the show lined up against a wall at the huge Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, the show unfolded before our eyes as we moved from room to room and back again while the show happened right in front of us, enveloping us in its splendor.  We got to participate in this show in a way we thoroughly enjoyed, becoming part of the performance.  It made the story more real.  Melissa Ortiz, the writer and director, and Cassandra Ambe, who played Dracula and choreographed the show, have created a masterpiece of immersive theater that simply must be experienced.  The rest of the cast, which included Tamara Burgess, Sam Flemming, Matt Jennings, Corissa Pacillas Smith, Gerard Alvarez, Mary Emfinger, Sarah Rodriguez and Guilia Blandino were amazing in their support of the story.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show was the perfect ending to one of our busiest Fringe days and must be experienced to be understood.  We understand that the show has been extended, and we highly recommend you See it on July 14 at 9:30 p.m. or July 15 at 10 p.m.

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 8) part 1

What a Fringe experience we have had.  We saw six  shows on Saturday and plan to see three more today, bringing our total to 37 shows in 9 days.  Quite a run.  Saturday was one of the most diverse days of Fringe we have ever experienced, and we are happy to share our reviews with you.

But before that, here are our nominees for the first Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence, which will be handed out today at the Fringe Awards show at 6 p.m. at the Montalban Theatre:

Under the Jello Mold


The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign

Lights Camera Lyla: The Second Act

Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

TITLE OF SHOWMiddleschoolandia

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Main Stage

REVIEW:  An interesting musical, written by a 12 year old girl and her mother, based on her journal about the trauma caused by attending middle school.  The entire cast, with the exception of the Dad, Teacher and Advisor, were children, and they taught the adults how to do a show.  It was cute, like Alanis Morissette on steroids, full of angst and satire, but not quite as tight as it could be.  Some of the songs were too basic, but the overall gist was that the three years of middle school were a rite of passage that every child must endure.  As Dad says in closing, “There are scarier things in life than Middleschoolandia, like Trumperica!”  It was a worthy effort and several of the kids were outstanding, both in the vocal deliveries and their characterizations.  Hats off to Carson Goring, who wrote the show and portrayed Ashley, Mia Ruhman, Cheyenne Rimando, Lilly Mae Stewart, Veronica McFarlane, Jacob Accardo, Kai Johnson, Jacob Smith and Lily Hightower who portrayed the children; Carlos Chavez, Amsara Holly, and Nikki Lewis, who portrayed the Wild Teens, and to Steven Bray for his portrayal of Dad.

RECOMMENDATION:  It was an interesting show that has the potential to become something even better.

TITLE OF SHOWChemo Barbie:  My Lady Bits’ Journey Through Breast Cancer

VENUE:  Asylum @ Studio C

REVIEW:  If there were an award for the most tender, emotional and inspirational show at Fringe, then Chemo Barbie would win hands down.  I have personally never cried so much during a Fringe show as I did at this show, which tugged at my heart and connected with my past experiences with friends and family.  As a cancer survivor myself, this show hit me like a ton of bricks, giving me new found courage to live even stronger than before.  Heather Keller is a powerful actress with the emotional strength to make her journey relatable to her audience as well as inspire them to live.  The show was wonderfully directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, who squeezed out an amazing story of triumph and hope from the tragedy that could have been Keller’s life.  Believe me when I tell you that seeing Chemo Barbie is a life-changing experience I will cherish forever.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show is a MUST SEE and truly worthy of an extension.  Don’t miss your opportunity to be inspired.

TITLE OF SHOWAn Evening with John Wilkes Booth

VENUE:  The Flight Theatre at the Complex

REVIEW:  History has always told us about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln from the victim’s side.  This show explored it from the view of the assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, exploring his reasons and frame of mind in creating and carrying out his conspiracy to kill Lincoln, General Grant and Secretary of State Seward.  It was an insightful journey through the mind of a killer, and Stephen Spiegel was excellent in bringing the audience along.  The show was wonderfully written and directed by Lloyd J. Schwartz.  Although it did drag at times, the overall pacing was good and the acting was well done, resulting in an interesting show.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show is worthy of your attention, and we recommend that you See it if it returns for an extension.


HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 7) *UPDATED*

Had a wonderful day yesterday.  After writing my reviews for Thursday’s shows, we lounged around our Airbnb most of the day.  Around 3 p.m. we both decided at the same time – “Let’s go to Margaritaville!”  So off we went to Universal City Walk and had dinner and drinks before heading out last night to hang with fringeships and see some shows.  We saw another three to bring our total to 28 shows.  Here are the reviews.


VENUE:  Studio/Stage

REVIEW:  I would not have gone to see this show except that they applied for our Larry Cornwall Award.  To put it nicely, it was a hot mess.  Of course they waited until it was over to tell us “we’re a work in progress.”  Boy was that an understatement.  The concept is there but the show lacks structure.  The best part of it was when the two performers, Adam Kerbel and Shih-wei Willie Wu played the Taiko drum.  Other than that, as my wife says, “it reminded her of two boys playing outside during recess.”

RECOMMENDATION:  Not ready for viewing – skip it.

TITLE OF SHOWBilly . . . from Como to Homo

VENUE:  The Sheperd Theatre at the Complex

REVIEW:  In what has to be one of the most physically demanding of solo shows, 70 year old Lynne Jassem tap dances her way into our hearts in this amazing and brilliant production, directed by the solo queen herself, Jessica Lynn Johnson.  Had Jassem not been persistent in inviting me to her show, we might have missed this true gem of HFF 17.  We were fortunate to share the experience with Johnson and several of her other students, Sofie Khan (Mexistani!) and Gabriella DeMarco (Lovesick), and the show proved to be the highlight of our night.  Jassem is a natural storyteller and weaves her life story in such a way that it is ripe for a sequel.

RECOMMENDATION:  You simply MUST SEE this show.  The tap dancing alone is worth the price of admission, but the story will cheer you up and encourage you.  Her final show is June 24 at 8 p.m.

TITLE OF SHOWConfessions of an Arab Woman

VENUE:  Dorie Theater at the Complex

REVIEW:  We would definitely have to say that female empowerment is one of the themes of HFF 17, and this show was one of the strongest statements of that theme.  Joumana Haddad is considered to be one of the most powerful Arab women in the world today, and this insight into her was breathtakingly beautiful.  An amazing cast featuring Cynthia Yelle, Madia El-Tawansy, Gamon Quinn, Sandy Rather, Tiffany Badie, and Brenda Salas portrayed Haddad at various key times in her life, each delivering stellar performances.  They were aided by the truly supporting cast of Evan Langle as the Ringmaster/Marquis de Sade, Gilbert Reynoso as the Father and Alexandra Olson as the Journalist.  The imagery and staging were first rate, and the piece left us thinking long after the final bow.  This was a true work of art.

RECOMMENDATION:  Unfortunately, this was a limited three-performance run, and we got to see the final performance.  If this show gets extended, we highly recommend you taking the time to See it.  *UPDATE*  We have just found out that this show will be extended, with performances on August 23, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. and on August 27 at 7 p.m.  Now you have no excuse, so go see it!

We were going to see another show afterwards, but we both hit a wall and couldn’t stay awake another minute.  Time to refresh and prepare for the final big day of Fringe on Saturday, when we are scheduled to see six shows.

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 6)

The 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival is rapidly coming to a close.  We attended two shows today, with three shows scheduled for Friday, six (or seven) on Saturday and two on Sunday before the awards are given out.  It’s been a wonderful run this year and we’re so glad we had the chance to come down.  We’re looking forward to handing out our first award on Sunday.  Hope you’re all there for that!

TITLE OF SHOWTough Brown Leather

VENUE:  Lounge Theatre 2

REVIEW:  We love that so many people have been able to tell their personal stories through the magic of Fringe solo shows.  This vehicle has allowed people like Tonya Jones the freedom to reveal her experiences with sexual abuse and to showcase her triumph over that event.  Her story is inspiring and her journey to acceptance and victory is a work of art.  It is a sad testament to our society that so many people have to go through this in silence because the justice system treats these victims as criminals, instead of making the perpetrators pay for their crimes.  Thank you Tonya for reminding us of those who suffered silently.  Thank you for being the voice that can help them unlock their past and move on with their lives.  We need more inspirational people like you, Diana Varco and Kimleigh Smith to continue sounding the alarm and showing other victims that they can have a full life again after sexual abuse.

RECOMMENDATION:  We highly recommend this show and urge you to See it.  Her final performance is June 24 at 6 p.m.  Don’t miss it.

TITLE OF SHOWNosferatu, a Symphony in Terror

VENUE:  Studio/Stage

REVIEW:  In what has to be the most unique show we have ever seen at Fringe, Crown City Theatre Company brings us the stage version of the classic 1922 film, Nosferatu.  What makes it so unique is the complete lack of dialogue, other than what is projected on the back wall, and the amazing voice of the narrator.  The story is told through classical music, dance and the amazing dramatic movements of the cast, who all turned in stellar performances.  The cast included Michael J. Marchak as Thomas Hutter; Alina Bolshakova as Ellen Hutter, Michelle Holmes as Count Orlok, Amanda Walter as the Gypsy; Shayna Gabrielle as the Innkeeper’s Daughter; Renee Cohen as Sister Agatha, Rolando J. Vargas as Herr Doktor Schmidt; Kristian Steel as the evil Herr Knock and Matthew Campbell as the Postman.  Special kudos to Holmes, who braved three hours of makeup to create the diabolical Count Orlok.

Our only complaint was that the staging often prevented the audience from being able to read the written dialogue.

RECOMMENDATION:  You should definitely See this show.  Its uniqueness will give you a fuller Fringe experience.  Their final show is June 24 at 3:30 p.m.