Sunday, September 30, 2012

SceneAroundTown... Miss Hispanidad International 2012... San Gabriel Performing Arts Center... San Gabriel

Miss Hispanidad International 2012... Pageant Judges include Yoana Gaxiola, Gunther Shia & Mara New 

Miss Hispanidad International 2012 Competition

Miss Hispanidad International 2012 winners (left to right) Jazmine Parra MHI Teen Hollywood 2012, Savannah Palacio MHI Teen 2012, Gabriela Castillo MHI 2012, Lauren Quirarte MHI Hollywood 2012 and 2 of the pageant's judges Mara New & Gunther Shia 

Cancer patient Alexus Rodriguez (center) is joined by her parents wearing their Kids Cures Foundation green ribbons 

Miss Hispanidad International 2012 pageant directors Elie Cane & Silvio Nicholas Walters join a happy contestant  

Friday, September 28, 2012

SceneAroundTown.... Theatre 40 Presents A Terrific Production of W. Somerset Maugham's "The Circle"

I thoroughly enjoyed W. Somerset Maugham's romantic comedy of manners "The Circle" which is Theatre 40's latest gem well directed by Jules Aaron.  The witty 1920's satire about marriage, infidelity, the pursuit of happiness and the battle between passion and practicality still rings very true today in 2012.  The play's winning cast features Scott Facher as Arnold, Shelby Kocee as Elizabeth, Rhonda Lord as Lady Kitty, Lloyd Pedersen as Clive Champion-Cheney, David Hunt Stafford as Lord Porteus, Ross Alden as Teddie, Dionne Jones as Anna and Fernando Aldaz as George the butler.  The comedy takes place in the home of Arnold Champion-Cheney's house in Dorset, England. Lovely romantic Elizabeth has invited George's mother Lady Kitty & her husband Lord Porteus from Italy to spend time with them at their home.  Having never met her mother-in-law she fantasizes what a lovely refined lady she must be and thinks it's important for George & his mother to make amends.  While she is lovely she is definitely not refined as depicted by Rhonda Lord's colorful, comedic portrayal.  Bumbling, ambitious politically minded George hasn't seen his mother in over 30 years and doesn't really want to.  He doesn't seem too fond of his wife either...  no wonder she begins to fancy house guest businessman Teddie.  The scandal of George's mother leaving with his father's close friend has deeply scarred him for life and destroyed a few political careers along the way and George is determined that such a catastrophe will never destroy his life again.  To George & Elizabeth's dismay & shock his father Clive Champion-Cheney unexpectedly shows up on the same day...crazy funny emotional romantic passionate havoc ensues. The beautiful set is designed by Jeff G. rack with great period costumes by Michele Young & great wigs by Judi Lewin adding to the authentic look & feel of the time. Audiences will love this production of  "The Circle".  It's witty, romantic, charming and very funny. For more information visit

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SceneAroundTown.... California Women's Conference.... Long Beach Convention Center....

California Women's Council Salutes Women of the U.S. Military

Broadcasters Ana Garcia, Christine Devine, Wendy Burch & Dorothy Lucey join Stedman Graham 

Donzaleigh Abernathy, Tippi Hedren, Mary McDonough & Guest 

Marcia Cross & California Women's Conference Executive Producer Michelle Patterson 

Walton Women Kami Cother, Mary McDonough & Judy Norton 

Be Your Own You's Emily Rehm, Cheyenne Hunt, Jordan Fagan, Jaclyn Patterson & Brianna Benson 

Geri Jewell with a copy of her new book "I'm Walking As Straight As I Can" 

Grammy winner Melissa Manchester debuts "Beloved"

Grammy winner Helen Reddy receives her "Woman of the Year Award" from Michelle Patterson 

Michael J. Beckwith & Rickie Byars Beckwith

Tippi Hedren, Carol Channing & JoAnne Worley

Fran Drescher

Shannon Tweed-Simmons

Photos by Bill Dow, Ella Batalon & Harrison Held

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harrison Held's SceneAroundTown... Valarie Pettiford In Concert.... The Renberg Theatre... & The Mulligan Project...

 Valarie Pettiford In Concert...  photo by Versa Manos

Valarie Pettiford In Concert....  Photo by Versa Manos

Valarie Pettiford and friend Kim Coles

Tony nominated singer, actress & dancer Valarie Pettiford put on an electrifying concert Sunday nite at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre.  The terrific show was co-written and directed by David Galligan with musical direction by Ron Abel.  Midway through the concert Valarie debuted two beautiful songs from her second solo album "Velvet Sky" which is a collection of original lullabies.  Ms. Pettiford introduced the evening as a nite of celebration & celebrate she did!   "A few years ago I had a milestone birthday.... & I just turned 25 if you're dyslexic" she joked.  She opened the show with a fun & sexy "All That Jazz", followed by a soaring "Don't Rain On My Parade", "Joy" and a sultry "Besame Mucho/Quisas". She later shared how she met star mentor Bob Fosse at an Equity open call and how important and influential he was in her life. Other show stoppers included  "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Me & My Shadow", "Mein Herr" & "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries".   Valarie Pettiford's new album of lullabies "Velvet Sky" will be available on iTunes, Amazon and other online retailers on Tuesday, October 9th - it's inevitable that it will create a whole new generation of fans for the beautiful, vivacious triple threat entertainer.   

The Mulligan Project recently hosted their Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival which raises much needed funds to improve the lives of children with disabilities in Central Vietnam

Samira Kazemeni, Richard Chiu & Guest at The Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival

Siedah Garrett at the Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival

Meagan Campbell & Luenell at the Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival

Stella "Disco Stella" Gomez & Harrison Held at the Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival - Special Thanks to Stella "Disco Stella" Gomez for her additional photography!

Oliver Carnay & Guest at The Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn  Festival

Valerie Grace at The Mulligan Project's Third Annual Mid Autumn Festival

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Harrison Held's SceneAroundTown.... The Triumphant Premiere of Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years" at the Hudson Guild Theatre....

"The Last Five Years" stars Kate Bowman & Juan Lozano....  Photos by Lisette Azar

Kate Bowman & Juan Lozano

Los Angeles audiences are in for a treat when they see Jason Robert Brown's unique, intimate & powerful chamber musical "The Last Five Years" now playing at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood.  It is the inaugural production for KBP Theatre Group & they are off to a great start.  The award winning play elegantly directed by Kristen Boule stars two wonderful performers - Kate Bowman as the struggling hopeful  shiksa actress Cathy Hiatt & Juan Lozano as the super successful overnite sensation Jewish writer Jamie Wellerstein and tells the story of their falling in & out of love. There's passion, there's romance, there's humor & comedy, there's sadness, there's hope, there's despair & there's heartbreak told via beautifully performed songs & music written by Jason Robert Brown. Great work by musical director Peter Darling & his musicians. Cathy's version of their 5 year relationship starts at the end of their marriage going backward in time to their first meeting while Jamie's begins with their first date & goes forward.  Their memories intersect at the marriage sequence in  the middle of the 90 minute play.  There's also a new addition to the play - there are dancer versions of each of the two characters "memories" behind screens which was very effective.  Kudos to dancers Macy Reyes & Daniel Johnson and choreographer Steven Nielsen on their fine work. What I liked the most about the play is that is doesn't suger coat Cathy & Jamie - we see the good, the bad and the ugly of both character's complex personalities. Audiences will enjoy witnessing their colorful rollercoaster journey in this production produced by Kristen Boule & Lisette Azar. Definitely worth seeing. For more information visit .

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Harrison Held's SceneAroundTown.... 2 Highly Entertaining Magical Plays.... "XANADU" Premieres at DOMA Theatre... & Southern California Shakespeare Festival's "The Tempest"...

DOMA Theatre Presents "XANADU"

DOMA Theatre Presents "XANADU"

DOMA Theatre Presents "XANADU"

I loved "Xanadu" which opened Friday nite at Hollywood's DOMA Theatre before an enthusiastic sold out audience.  The colorful, campy, high energy stage production is a hilarious & fun comedy send up of the 1980 film which starred Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly & Michael Beck.  The film  featured an enormously successful soundtrack of beautiful songs by Electric Light Orchestra aka "ELO" & John Farrar which included "Magic", "I'm Alive", "All Over The World", "Suddenly", "Evil Woman", "Suspended In Time" & the title track "Xanadu".  It was so great to hear these songs performed so beautifully  in DOMA Theatre's  terrific production directed by Hallie Baran starring Lovlee Carroll as Kira/Clio, Matt O'Neill as Sonny Malone,  David Michael Trevino as Danny Maguire, Veronica Scheyving as Melpomene, Brittany Rodin as Calliope, Alan Lee as Terpsicore, Taji Coleman as Euterpe, Lindsay Zana as Erato, Bradley Sattler as Thalia.  Allyson Blackstone & Morgan Gallant featured are featured as Dancers.  Struggling Venice Beach chalk artist Sonny Malone contemplates ending his life until lovely Greek muse Clio intervenes travelling from Mount Olympus  to earth to become his artistic inspiration.  Since muses are not allowed to be seen by mortals she pretends to be a babe named "Kira" clad in pink leg warmers and roller skates while sporting an Australian accent - hence the Olivia Newton-John connection.  Sonny decides he can combine the arts and "something athletic" and decides to create a roller disco - maybe he's had too much sun... & keep in mind it's 1980...  he's very funny in a "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" kind of way.  Lovlee Carroll is terrific in the Newton-John role singing beautifully and delivering a fine comedic performance - she walks a fine line - or should I say she roller skates a fine line parodying Newton-John  and does it well.  Clio's conni ving sisters set out to have the duo fall in love which will risk Clio being eternally banished from Mount Olympus by Theus. Kudos to Veronica Scheyving & Brittany Rodin as the mean scheming sisters. Also included is one of Newton-John's earlier pre-Xanadu hits, "Have You Ever Been Mellow" sung in a hilarious rendition - statuesque Taji Coleman stands out with her comedic presence & voice. David Michael Trevino's great singing stands out as well in "Whenever I'm Away From You" with Lovlee Carroll .  Great musical direction by Chris Raymond & cool choreography by Angela Todaro. Xanadu runs until October 7th.  For more information visit    

Olivia Newton-John with her husband Amazon John Easterling and Harrison Held (right)... photo by  Troy Casey

Jorge Flores & Michael T. Kachingwe

Danielle Romos & Michael T. Kachingwe

Kiersten Tanopo, Michael T. Kachingwe & Phoenix T. Lee

Michael T. Kachingwe & Kiersten Tanopo... photos by Tom Zasadzinski 

I enjoyed another fantastic nite of live theater attending Southern California Shakespeare Festival's riveting & very enjoyable production of "The Tempest" well directed by Sam Robinson at the Studio Theatre on the Cal Poly Pomona Campus.  The Festival is known for it's non traditional casting and "The Tempest"  stars talented seasoned African American actor Michael T. Kachingwe as Prospero, a role almost always played by an older white actor.  Prospero, once the duke of Naples &  his 3 year old daughter Miranda (Kiersten Tanopo) were put to sea to die 15 years earlier by his cruel brother to gain control.  Their friend Gonzalo secretly armed their raft with food, clothing & books about magic.  Prospero & Miranda end up on a deserted island where he studies the magic books and develops into quite the magician.  A monster named Caliban becomes his slave &  Prospero frees a spirit named Ariel trapped in a tree by an evil witch.  He learns that a ship nearby is travelling with his enemies on board  from years earlier and using his magical powers he creates a tempest which lands the group safely on their island so he can seek revenge.  The rest of the talented cast features Luis Arredondo as "Trinculo", Job Barnett as "Stefano", Chris Clauss as "Mariner/Spirit", Adriana Flores as "Antonia/Juno/Spirit", Jorge Flores as "Caliban/Master", Phoenix T. Lee as "Ferdinand", Andrea Lopez as "Alonsa", Valerie Lopez as "Sycorax/Spirit", Andy Nguo as "Gonzalo/Spirit", Marissa Pitts as "Sebastiana/Iris", Danielle Ramos as "Ariel", Anthony Solorzano, ll as "Mariner/Spirit" and Kimberlee Stone as "Adriana/Boatswain/Ceres".  Kudos to all the talented performers, the stage crew plus the staff in costumes, music & special effects - everyone involved contributed to making this a very magical & entertaining show.  For more info visit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Harrison Held's SceneAroundTown.... Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival Showcase "LALIFF".... Premiere of "Stealing Las Vegas" Directed by Francisco Menendez... Egyptian Theater...

Stealing Las Vegas' Eloy Mendez & guest Kim Poirier

Stealing Las Vegas' Krissy Terry

Stealing Las Vegas' Anabella Casanova & Ethan Landry

Stealing Las Vegas' Antonio Fargas signs autograph for Rosie Arzate

Stealing Las Vegas' Sergiu Iva signs for a happy young fan

Stealing Las Vegas' Nate Bynum & guest

Guests Jovan Arman, Mark Montue & Rosie Arzate join Stealing Las Vegas Stars Krissy Terry (in blue) & Anabella Casanova (in gold)