Community News

‘Diary of Anne Frank’

Playing April 8 to May 6 at the Long Beach Playhouse, “The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of the 21st Century’s most famous and haunting stories. In July 1942, when Anne was 13 years old, the Frank family went into hiding as Nazis swept through the Netherlands systematically deporting Jews to concentration camps and killing centers in the east. For nearly two years, Anne, her father, mother and sister, and the Van Daan family hid in a secret space above her father’s former office in Amsterdam.

Anne chronicled their lives in her diary. In 1947, three years after her death, her father was able to get her memoir published. In 1955, the play, adapted from the book by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, opened on Broadway.

The 13-member cast is a mix of actors who are making debuts and who are returning to the Playhouse. Those making their debuts are Vita Muccia, Robbie Macy, Phil Bricklry, Dylan Boggan and Mehrdad Maktabi. Returning to the Playhouse are Rick Reischman, Samantha Haase, Andrea Stradling, Lauren Velasco, Stephen Saatjian, Harriet Whitmyer, Lee Samuel Tanng and Rudy Perez.

Tickets are available at www.lbplayhouse.org, or by calling (562) 494-1014, option 1.

‘An American in Paris’

Long Beach’s premier theater company, Musical Theatre West (MTW), announced the cast of its spring production, “An American in Paris.” The captivating cast will bring Director and Choreographer Jeffry Denman’s toe-tapping homage of the original film to life this April, and boasts talent seen on Broadway, national tours, regional stage, screen and more.

MTW’s “An American in Paris” will run for three weekends on select dates from April 14 to April 30, including a Parisian-inspired red carpet opening night celebration on Saturday, April 15. Tickets range from $20 – $125 each and are available by phone at (562) 856-1999 or online at musical.org.

Fans of the 1951 film and the show’s West Coast premiere at The Hollywood Pantages in 2017 will be delighted with Denman’s “S’wonderful” staging of “An American in Paris.” The award-winning director and choreographer’s version has garnered numerous accolades from the east coast and central regional theater, and now he’s headed west to debut the reimagined rendition on the Musical Theatre West stage.

“We could not be more thrilled to work with Jeffry and bring this version of “An American in Paris” to the West Coast,” shared Paul Garman, executive director and producer of Musical Theatre West. “The brilliant cast and creative team are going to immerse audiences in a classic Hollywood musical movie, and we look forward to welcoming film, dance, music and theater lovers alike to experience this enchanting production at Musical Theatre West.”

Featuring fan-favorite songs like “S’ Wonderful,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Shall We Dance?”, MTW’s An “American in Paris” will tell the romantic story of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Hoping to start a new life, veteran Jerry Mulligan chooses newly liberated Paris as the place to make a name for himself as a painter. But Jerry’s life becomes complicated when he meets Lise, a young Parisian shop girl with her own secret, and realizes he is not her only suitor.

Sareen Tchekmedyian will make her Musical Theatre West debut as the lovely leading lady Lise, a passionate Parisian ballet dancer (“Anastasia” 1st National Tour; Barak Ballet: “Wein,” “The Queen has Arrived”). The role of Jerry, a charismatic, tap-dancing expat played in the film by Gene Kelly, will be brought to life by Luke Hawkins (Broadway’s “Xanadu,” Harry Connick Jr’s “A Tribute to Cole Porter,” Regional “Mary Poppins,” “West Side Story” and “Hail Caesar!”).

Louis Pardo will take on the role of Adam, a Jewish-American songwriter searching for his authentic artist voice (“Jesus Christ Superstar” National Tour; Diversionary Theater’s “Pippin”; “Hair” at The Hollywood Bowl), while Henri, the sensitive Parisian who secretly dreams of dance, will be played by Michael Bullard (Broadway’s “Aladdin,” Musical Theatre West’s “9 to 5,” Rodgers + Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”).

Dancer and Broadway star Leslie Stevens (Broadway’s “La Cage Aux Folles,” Victor/Victoria) will bring the laughs as the uptight but well-meaning Madame Baurel, and Rebecca Ann Johnson (MTW’s “Big Fish,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; “Community”, “The Mindy Project”) will portray the get-what-she-wants Milo Davenport. The rest of 1940s Paris will be brought to life with talent well-known to the Southern California stage and dance scene to tell the story through tap, jazz, ballet, song and more.

Season of Sondheim

Landmark Theater will extend the focus on Sondheim throughout the LA area this spring by bringing this powerful Sondheim work to Long Beach, opening April 28. Inside the frame of an all-American, yet sinister, carnival, “Assassins” illuminates the stories of several historical figures who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate American Presidents.

After a major revival in New York last year, and with yet another American presidential election cycle on the verge of ramping up, this production could not be more timely and the issues more current.

“Assassins” runs on the weekends, April 28 – May 14, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays and 7 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $30-60 and available at LBLandmark.org. Performances will be held in the sanctuary of the First Congregational Church of Long Beach, at the corner of 3rd and Cedar in downtown Long Beach.

Call (562) 366-0085 for more information or visit LBLandmark.org/assassins.

Distinguished Speaker

Ken Burns, one of the most recognizable and popular documentary filmmakers of our time is coming to Long Beach as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. He is appearing live at the Terrace Theater on Monday, May 1, at 8 p.m. Great seats are available to purchase now until April 28 beginning at $50 each at ticketmaster.com.

Widely recognized as one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of our time, Ken Burns is our country’s foremost chronicler, in film, of the American experience. Burns has been making documentary films for more than 40 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.

The Distinguished Speaker Series is at the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. Info: www.speakersla.com.

So-Cal Dance Invitational

The So-Cal Dance Invitational, presented by South Coast Dance Arts Alliance, will be presented on Saturday, May 6, 8 p.m. at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater of CSULB under the direction of Nannette Brodie. The four Southern California dance companies are BrockusRED, Fuse Dance Company, Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre and Jazz Spectrum Dance Company. In addition, they are presenting a work by featured guest artist, Andy Vaca, professor of dance at CSULB. This is the 10th presentation of the SoCal Dance Invitational, which was last presented in 2020.

Tickets for the So-Cal Dance Invitational are $35 general admission and $25 for students. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets:www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5762059.

Below the Surface

Catalina Museum for Art & History presents the art installation Below the Surface: The Catalina Photographs of Bruce Hall, featuring a collection of underwater photographs captured over decades at Catalina’s Casino Point Dive Park, the country’s earliest underwater preserve. The art installation is curated by guest curator, Douglas McCulloh, and is currently on view through January 2024.

Prominent Southern California artist Bruce Hall is a legally blind underwater photographer. The diagnosis of legal blindness can have many different effects on people. For Hall, he can see something a few inches away from him, but beyond that, the world turns into a “shaky out-of-focus fog.”

The photographs in the art installation were captured over many years in the Casino Point Dive Park. The park is a realm accessible with scuba gear or snorkel and mask. While it can be experienced and photographed; it is a place that cannot be fully inhabited. That Hall focuses his fine art photography on the underwater world comes as no surprise, as he has spent a lifetime using a camera to engage with an equally foreign visual world – everyday life.

For more information about Below the Surface: Catalina Photographs of Bruce Hall art installation at Catalina Museum for Art & History, visit CatalinaMuseum.org/whats-happening.

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