Category Archives: Hollywood

Cute as Heck: 10-Year Old Gets to ‘Play Bass’ With Paul McCartney (Watch)

Beatle Paul McCartney and "Leila" duet on "Get Back" in Argentina concert
Beatle Paul McCartney and “Leila” duet on “Get Back” in Argentina concert

*Well this is something that no doubt made an old man feel good. During his concert in Buenes Aires, Argentina, legendary Paul McCartney managed to invite a young girl up onstage, thinking she wanted him to sign her doll.

But baby-girl had news for the 73-year-old former Beatle. When he asked her what she wanted, amidst the crowd of screaming fans, she said, “I want to play bass with you.”

Whoa! 

“This could be interesting,” McCartney, clearly surprised, said. But lo and behold, a white bass guitar, nearly the size of the youngster, was quickly brought out for her as the two went on to jam to the Beatles’ classic, “Get Back.”

McCartney admitted to the audience, “I didn’t see that one coming!” Continue reading

Elijah Rock Brings Cab Calloway to Life in ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ (Video)

Elijah Rock, Kim Louise Taylor and Katherine Tokarz in I ONLY  HAVE EYES FOR YOU (photo credit: Michael Lamont)
Elijah Rock, Kim Louise Taylor and Katherine Tokarz in I ONLY
HAVE EYES FOR YOU (photo credit: Michael Lamont)

 

*On Friday, May 13, Corky Hale presents I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU – The Life and Lyrics of Al Dubin, at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood. This new musical features lyrics by Al Dubin, music mostly by Harry Warren, book by Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner, and musical direction by Gerald Sternbach. The production is directed and choreographed by Kay Cole.

The Golden Age of Hollywood returns to the stage in the all-singing, all-dancing story of legendary 1930s lyricist Al Dubin, who along with composer Harry Warren and visionary film director Busby Berkeley and took movie musicals to new heights during the darkest days of the Great Depression.

Elijah Rock, a great fan of what he calls, The Great American Songbook, gets to perform the music of one of his music legends, Cab Calloway, in a featured segment of the production.

He spoke with EURThisNthat editor, DeBorah B. Pryor, about the experience.

“I have an interesting relationship to Cab Calloway. I have always included him in my act. In my musical performances with my band…I’ve had different size bands and orchestras and I always incorporated ‘Minnie the Moocher’ in my set. I actually did a recording of Minnie the Moocher with one of my previous bands and it became one of my signature songs when I would do a show.”

Rock says a friend of his called him to let him know about the show. “The next day I get a call from Michael Donovan, who casts a lot of the big shows in town, and he says ‘They want to see you for Cab.’”

At the audition, Rock says  he didn’t sing his signature Cab Calloway song. Instead he sang other great tunes from the legend. “And of course, they booked me right away!” he says, rather nonchalantly on our telephone interview. Continue reading

Moya Angela, Dreamgirls’ ‘Effie’ Says Jennifer Holliday ‘Passed the Torch’ to Her!

Jennifer Holliday and Moya Angela
Jennifer Holliday (the original Effie) and Moya Angela

In part 1 of the EURweb exclusive interview with dynamic performer Moya Angela, who just knocked the part of character “Effie White” out of the park with a stunning performance, in the Valley Performing Arts Center production of “Dreamgirls, the performer spoke of her growth in the role; and described that growth as “Act I Effie” and “Act II Effie.”

The production ended on May 8, as part of a special 4-performance-only contract, but audiences are probably still talking about it.

When EURweb senior editor and resident theater critic, DeBorah B. Pryor, spoke with Angela during a telephone interview, she asked her about her approach to the role and character that audiences worldwide have come to have great expectations for. She especially wanted to know how she prepared for what Pryor referenced as “the song” — the one that has become the signature of the production.

MA: When I first played the role I had my heart broken. I was young…and still making really ridiculous decisions in relationships and I was just always angry and now, I’m just like, I’ve experienced more. I’ve been through a lot more. I’m more patient with myself and people and with my artistry in general. And I’m more confident.

And the song?

I even sing it differently now. Before, it was harder for me to sing because I was just trying to be superwoman and get everything perfect. But now its like, I realize I don’t have to sing everything ‘triple forte’ and I can color the notes differently because of what I’ve been through and make better choices because I’m older.

You can’t act Effie, you have to play Effie. And I learned that too. Like, you have actors who are acting onstage, and then you have actors who are actually the characters onstage…It’s not the kind of character you can just act. I can’t go through the motions and make you guys think that I’m going there. I have to ‘go there’ or else it doesn’t work.

And now, in part 2 of the interview, Angela continues the conversation and even shares what went down when she finally got to meet the “original Effie”…Jennifer Hudson!
Continue reading

Review: ‘Dreamgirls’ at VPAC in the Valley a Stunner! (Closes Sunday!)

Brittney Johnson, Moya Angela, Jasmin Richardson and Danielle Truitt star in the LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS & McCOY RIGBY ENTERTAINMENT production of "DREAMGIRLS" - Directed and Choreographed by Robert Longbottom. PHOTO CREDIT:   Michael Lamont
Brittney Johnson, Moya Angela, Jasmin Richardson and Danielle Truitt star in the LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS & McCOY RIGBY ENTERTAINMENT production of “DREAMGIRLS” – Directed and Choreographed by Robert Longbottom. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont

*One of the most loved musicals in the history of live theater is “Dreamgirls.” The story of a girl group fashioned in the  mold of iconic R&B groups like, The Supremes,” (before and after Diana Ross became the centerpiece in and of the group); and solo acts the likes of the legendary ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown and Jackie Wilson. The musical has now made its way to the beautiful Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) in Northridge, California, to a packed opening night house.

Dreamgirls, which will only be at VPAC through Sunday, May 8, has had its run of productions all around the globe since its Broadway  debut in 1983. The VPAC production boasts talents from an energetic cast, an exceptional crew and some impeccable staging.

So much so, that there are times when all the seamless moving parts and exceptional use of imagery will make you forget that you are sitting in a theater watching a live production, and not in one watching a film. Such is the effortless flow here, enhanced by the ease with which the scenery and lighting intersperse and change.

Pure magic.

Musically, the production pretty much follows the film version; and we get to hear recreations of the musicals’ highly-anticipated songs such as “Listen,” “When I First Saw You,” “One Night Only,” and of course, the biggest song in the production, “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going).”

But you will notice major differences in the actual musical versus the film. And with that said, your mind may drift to the over-the-top astounding performance by Jamie Foxx as “Curtis Taylor, Jr.” when he sang “When I First Saw You” to Beyonce’s “Deena Jones” in the film version of Dreamgirls, as you listen to the interpretation of the song by Scott A. People, which quite honestly, pales greatly in comparison, and even as a stand alone is lackluster. Continue reading

Oprah’s Not Worried About Flack From Church Folk

oprah-winfrey

*For decades, my girl Oprah has spoken passionately about “intention.” She’s famously asked many guests what their “intention” was before sitting down to talk with them, and she seems grounded in a belief that if your intention is pure and significant, your work will bear fruit.

So it was not really a surprise to learn that the Queen of All Media wasn’t concerned with the possible backlash against her upcoming drama ‘Greenleaf,’ a one-hour scripted drama which promises to pull the curtain back from the inner workings of the black church and the family that runs one.

“Our intention is to use this as a platform for telling great stories,” the 62-year-old media tycoon said, during a press screening of Greenleaf. “Our intention is to be mindful and respectful of the church as an institution. Only good can come from that.”

The family drama focuses on a fictional megachurch in Memphis, Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, headed by Bishop James Greenleaf and Lady Mae Greenleaf, played by Lynn Whitfield. Viewers soon learn that the good Bishop’s life is more sinister than godly. Winfrey herself returns to the screen, playing Mavis McCready, Lady Mae’s sister, in the new series. Continue reading

BADWest Presents 10th Annual ‘Day of Black Docs’ May 21st at AFI

Alice Walter BEAUTY IN TRUTH
*The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West (BADWest) is excited to present its 10th annual “Day of Black Docs” on Saturday, May 21, 2016, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the American Film Institute (AFI) Mark Goodson Theater, 2021 N. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Four incredible films will be screened (three feature documentaries and one short).
 
Tickets are $15.00 for the entire day’s event and can be purchased in advance at www.dayofblackdocs.org. Seating for all screenings is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Free parking is available in the AFI parking lot.
 
Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg’s AGENTS OF CHANGE, winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Pan African Film Festival, covers the turbulent college student activism of the 1970’s.  ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH by Pratibha Parmar, is a revealing portrait of the author who was the first African American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize.  Damon Kwame Mason’s SOUL ON ICE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, winner of the People’s Choice Awards at the Edmonton International Film Festival, shares the inspiring, little known history of black players in hockey. Jacquil Constant’s HAITI IS A NATION OF ARTISTS, focusing on contemporary artists from the island nation, and Robin Daniels’ EVERY VOTE COUNTS, on the significance of our current election cycle, complete the day.

Continue reading

BeBe Winans Thrilling Autobiographical Play Is A Family Affair

bebe winans (1)

*Gospel music legend BeBe Winans’ autobiographical play, Born For This, is enjoying it’s red carpet premiere this weekend in Atlanta at the Alliance Theatre.

“When you’re a teenager you don’t think your life is being recorded for others to learn from, or be healed by, or better yet to find strength through your fears and failures,” shared BeBe Winans. “Now I know that these were God’s plans for my life. We’re all born for a purpose. This musical celebrates the journey of finding it.”

For the uninitiated, BeBe is one of the Winans family, a gospel music dynasty from my home town of Detroit. Four of his older brothers formed the groundbreaking group The Winans, after which he and his sister Priscilla took the world by storm as a duo. You may know them as BeBe & CeCe.

In Born for This, BeBe and CeCe Winans experience the ultimate in culture shocks when invited to join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord Network. The Winans teenagers become not only television celebrities as they were welcomed into the Bakkers’ family, helping to integrate TV evangelism. As BeBe and CeCe encounter fame, fortune, and even a young Whitney Houston, BeBe must learn to balance his desire for success with his true calling. Continue reading

World Premier: ‘Billie Holiday — Front and Center’ — Opens at Fremont Center Theatre, May 27

Billie-Holiday-Front-and-Center-at-Fremont-Centre-Theatre

*(Los Angeles) Billie Holiday (1915-1959)  was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson.

Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse.

Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times. Continue reading