Category Archives: Theatre

Carmen at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza by Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre

(HOLLYWOOD PRESS CORPS) — Thousand Oaks, CA — Sunday, September 23, 2018 — The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, led by Founding Artistic Director Natasha Middleton, presented the full-length ballet, “CARMEN,” set to the music on Georges Bizet’s opera of the same name. This performance kicks off the 17th anniversary for Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre.

The performance on Sunday at the Janet and Ray Scherr Forum Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza was sold out. So many people who love dance came to experience a full length ballet. The lifts and poses of the dance troupe were smooth and graceful. The men seemed to toss the ballerinas into the air with ease. The recorded sound track by Rodion Shehedrin sounded great with all of Bizet’s iconic melodies played and timed perfectly.
Elen Harutyunyan relished in the part as Carmen. She has the beautiful body of a professional ballerina and the ability to convey the story through dance. Her performance was vibrant as she tempted and seduced the many men in Carmen’s life. Her professional level of dance was obvious and Natasha Middleton’s choreography worked well with Elen’s dance style. Grigori Arakelyan played the love smitten Don Jose. Grigori did such a good job and was graceful in his moves. Preston Swovelin was the dashing Toreador Escamillo.

Grigori Arakelyan (L) as Don José and Elen Harutyunyan (R) as Carmen
during the  Tavernpastia – Photo by Cheryl Mann

Costume designer, Ann Lindsey, did such a great job on all of the costumes. I really thought the Toreador’s costumes were just amazing. Damara Titmus played the ever faithful Micaela. Alexander Fost played the gypsy Remendado. There were, of course, many gypsies and they add a mysterious element to the production. Ricardo Jony did a great job as Zuniga, Lieutenant of the Dragoons. Again, this costume was just stunning. Part military uniform, part dance outfit. The epaulettes on Zuniga’s costume sparkled and were iconic from the back row.

Damara Titmus (Micaela) – Photo by Cheryl Mann

Members of the Corps de Ballet included Alejandro Flores as Dancaire, a gypsy smuggler, Marianna Udovchenko as a lead gypsy, Patrick Fitzsimmons as a Gypsy Bandit, Shelby Freeman as a Gypsy and Cigar Factory worker, Megan Van Deren as a lead gypsy, Chloe Verkinder as a Gypsy Factory Worker and Bridie Connors as a Gypsy and Cigar Factory Worker.

Duo Loparevi – Oleg Loparevi (L) and Natalia Lopareva (R) – a Spanish Couple – Photo by Cheryl Mann
Alexander Fost as Remendado – Photo by Cheryl Mann

I was really impressed with Rodion Shehdrin’s musical score. It sounded great on the sound system at the Scherr Forum Theatre. Georges Bizet’s sweeping musical score from his opera, Carmen, sounded well balanced and full of drama. I immediately recognized the melodies from the Habanera, the Seguidilla, and the Toreador Song.

Grigori Arakelyan (Don José) and Elen Harutyunyan (Carmen) – Photo by Cheryl Mann

Carmen is the story of a wild gypsy girl who lives in Seville, Spain. It is a “hooker with a heart of gold” story that’s been told over and over since Bizet created it in 1875. Carmen lives for sensuality and passion. She gets into a fight with a coworker while they are at work making cigars. Don Jose shows up to arrest her but is easily seduced by Carmen. Don Jose gets locked up for a month for letting her go. When he gets out of jail, he finds that Carmen has hooked up with Lieutenant Zuniga.

Preston Swovelin as Escamillo – Photo by Cheryl Mann

There’s an epic fight over Carmen. Don Jose leaves his childhood sweetheart, Micaela and joins up with Carmen’s gypsy gang which includes Frasquita and Mercedes. Carmen has a gypsy fortune teller giver her a reading. The news is bad. The fortune tellers predict Carmen’s demise. Carmen loses interest in Don Jose and hooks up with a Matador in Seville named Escamillo. Don Jose is hopelessly in love with Carmen and goes to Seville to confront Escamillo. The costumes were just stunning as the full ballet really made a full court press and pulled out all the stops. Natasha Middleton’s choreography was just amazing. They utilized the theatre space well. In the end, Carmen refuses to go back with Don Jose. Don Jose stabs Carmen to death with a dagger. He is then dumbfounded by what he did, but alas, Carmen has met her demise.
This was such a great night for regional dance theatre. It’s such a treat to watch the dancing, the costumes and the music. We look forward to covering more events from the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre.

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown

I am the Senior Editor at

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The World Premiere of the Tragedy of JFK as Told by William Shakespeare

The renowned Blank Theatre has announced the world premiere production of The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare), conceived, adapted, and directed by Daniel Henning. Performances began on September 24th with the opening night set for Saturday, October 1 at 8pm.

The play's poster
The play’s poster

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) is the tale of the conspiracy to assassinate the 35th President of the United States and its aftermath. Using Shakespearian text, this groundbreaking theatrical event illuminates what might have happened surrounding one of the most shocking events in American history.

Actors Ford Austin and Casey McKinnon

This show stars Ford Austin, Chad Brannon, Time Winters, Tony Abatemarco, Cris D’Annunzio, Casey McKinnon, Susan Denaker, Kellie McIver, Bruce Nehlsen, Jacob Sidnet, Jerry Della Salla, Johnny Walker, Jonathon Lamer, Brett Collier, Brian Brennan, Roslyn Cohn and John Knight.

Daniel Henning is a recognized expert on the JFK assassination. He has lectured at colleges and appeared for countless hours on talk radio at stations such as KABC, WABC, KFI, KPFK, WMAL, andothers.

Still from the show
Still from the show

The Blank Theatre is Hollywood’s resident theatre, consistently offering some of the most high quality and entertaining productions in the area. In its 26- year history, The Blank has won hundreds of awards including every major award in Los Angeles for Outstanding Production (LA Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, NAACP, BroadwayWorld, and Back Stage Garlands).

The Blank has been at the forefront of providing high quality productions with a risk-taking sensibility and entertaining experiences. With programs such as its Living Room Series and its annual nationwide Young Playwrights Festival, The Blank Theatre is committed to developing excellence in artistic talent and providing the opportunity for artists to take bold risks. For more info, please visit

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) will begin previews on Saturday, September 24 at 8pm and continue on Sunday, September 25 at 2pm, Monday, September 26 at 8pm, and Friday, September 30 at 8:30pm. Opening is set for Saturday, October 1 at 8pm. The regular performance schedule will be Friday at 8:30pm, Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm through November 6. Tickets are available now and may be purchased online at or via phone at (323) 661-9827. The Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1⁄2 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles, 90027.

Vida G.

Vida G.

Vida is an actress and journalist who lives in Los Angeles, California. She is the co-founder of the Hollywood Press Corps.

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LOS ANGELES, CA, MAY 12, 2016 – What happens when a young Mexican arrives in America in pursuit of the American Dream of Life, Liberty, Happiness and a good man? Whatthehelldidshesay is excited to announce the presentation of Vanessa Lua’s journey ‘American Man Dream’ at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June 2016.

One Mexican Woman in pursuit of Life, Liberty, and a Man
One Mexican Woman in pursuit of Life, Liberty, and a Man

The story follows a little girl who is growing up in Mexico whose only companion is her teddy bear, which is representative of the ideal man. He is a cuddly best friend who is always there to listen and love her unconditionally. As a grown woman, her story becomes bittersweet and she begins to think that true love is just a pipe dream. Throughout her journey, Vanessa eventually has to overcome language barriers, Catholic guilt, breakups, more Catholic guilt, bad sex, and even more Catholic guilt. She develops from her virginity in Mexico to chastity in the USA as she says ‘From red, white and “green” to red, white and “blue” and everything else in between her legs!’

The show, to be held throughout the month of June 2016, will be presented at the Studio C theatre located at 6448 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, is listed as a dark, irreverent comedy that is both provocative and full of sex.

Vanesa Lua in American Man Dream at Fringe Fest
Vanessa Lua in American Man Dream at Hollywood Fringe Festival

The actress is known for her high profile red carpet celebrity interviews, made using her now iconic pink iPhone. These candid interviews were the beginnings of her production company ‘Whatthehelldidshesay’ Productions. She has since gone on to star in comedy and dramatic projects The Last Ship, Conversation with La Catrina, Anchor Baby, Fatal Encounters, Comedy House and Stuck in a Fairy Tale.

The open and uncensored Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual, open-access, community-derived event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community. Through its offerings, the festival exhibits diverse and cutting-edge points-of-view.

For more information, visit

Tickets for American Man Dream at
Contact: Vanessa Lua
Title: Producer

Phone: 310-994-0138


Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown

I am the Senior Editor at

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