‘Porgy and Bess’ Revived at ETC
The Colony Theatre is thrilled to present the final production of its historic 40th Anniversary season, the Los Angeles Premiere of WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN A Musical Play by Joseph Vass, directed by David Ellenstein, Musical Director Kevin Toney, Musical Arranger Joseph Vass.
WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN will preview on Wednesday, April 15; Thursday, April 16; and Friday, April 17 at 8:00pm. It will open on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, May 17.
Meet the man behind the lyrics you love. With “Fascinating Rhythm,” ” ‘S Wonderful,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Long Ago And Far Away,” “A Foggy Day,” “I Got Rhythm,” and many more, the other half of the famous Gershwin duo guides us on a trip through some of the greatest American songs ever written. Insights and tales about his legendary collaborations all frame this fascinating and inspiring evening of music and theatre.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM:
JOSEPH VASS (Author/Musical Arranger) conceived and wrote Words By Ira Gershwin. He previously created The Soul Of Gershwin: The Musical Journey Of An American Klezmer, the hit musical for which Vass received the Minnesota theater community’s prestigious Ivey Award and which has been performed to rave reviews all across North America. His newest play Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush is slated for its world premiere at the North Coast Repertory Theatre this coming January 16, 2016. Vass also wrote the book, music and lyrics for the stage musicalMishegass! produced by the Actors Theater of Minnesota. He has composed, performed and recorded the dramatic music for stage productions like The Chosen and The Last Seder, as well as all the songs used in the score of the Canadian National Film Board film I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors. He is the guiding spirit behind Klezmerica, the contemporary Jewish music ensemble which has performed in all corners of the United States and at the International Klezmer Festival in Israel. Vass wrote all the original music and lyrics on all of the band’s many recordings. Vass is a member of The Dramatists Guild. He divides his time at home between Maplewood, Minnesota, and Phoenix, Arizona.
DAVID ELLENSTEIN (Director) is pleased to be making his directorial debut at the Colony Theatre and to be working with his dear friend Barbara Beckley. David directed the premiere of Words By Ira Gershwin at North Coast Rep in 2013, and has subsequently directed productions of it at Park Square Theatre in Minnesota and Portland Stage in Maine. As Artistic Director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach CA since 2003, he has produced over 100 productions and directed more than 40 there. Favorites include Faded Glory, Becoming Cuba, and Mandate Memories (World Premieres), Time Stands Still,My Name is Asher Lev, The Drawer Boy, Becky’s New Car, Ghosts, The Tempest, Madagascar, A Shayna Maidel, Rashomon,A Moon for the Misbegotten, Collected Stories, Romeo and Juliet, and Story Theatre. Elsewhere, other directing credits include Sonia Flew starring Lucy Arnaz; Halpern and Johnson starring Hal Linden and Brian Murray; The Chosenstarring Theodore Bikel and John Lloyd Young at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and Papermill Playhouse, Rocket City (World Premiere) and Honky Tonk Angels atAlabama Shakespeare Festival, Alexandros (World Premiere) at Laguna Playhouse, A Christmas Carol at Meadow Brook Theatre, Halpern and Johnson at Portland Stage, Conversations With My Father at Portland Rep, Rabbit Hole at Actors Theatre of Phoenix, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Renaissance Theatre, and productions at Great Lakes, Southwest, Nevada, and Kingsmen Shakespeare Festivals. David is the former Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Repertory Company and the Arizona Jewish Theatre. He lives with his beautiful wife Denise and their amazing sons Jamie and Will in Carlsbad CA.
KEVIN TONEY (Musical Director and Pianist) is an award-winning musician, composer, and author. Theater credits includes national touring production of Five Guys Named Moe, Memphis (LaJolla Playhouse),Ain’t Misbehavin (Sahara Hotel),Sophisticated Ladies, James Brown: Get On The Good Foot (Apollo Theater), Atlanta (Geffen Playhouse), Its Only Make Believe, Gem Of The Ocean, Crowns (Pasadena Playhouse), Magic Of Motown (Tribute To Berry Gordy), Beggars Holiday, Harlem Suite (Pantages Theater), Dreamgirls (Ahmanson Theater), Smokey Joe’s Cafe? (La Mirada Theater), Henry IV(Kennedy Center), When Hell Freezes Over I’ll Skate, Ain’t Nothing But The Blues, Amen Corner, Wild Women Blues . Kevin was the leader of The Blackbyrds, the innovative jazz-soul band and wrote many of their hits including Rock Creek Park andUnfinished Business. He has released twelve acclaimed solo albums. Strut (2001) was selected by the 2002 Winter Olympics Committee as official Olympic music. His original composition Kings is a staple at jazz radio nationwide. Kevin’s latest album release is New American Suite. Kevin has also performed with major artists including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Nancy Wilson, Pink, Shania Twain, Kenny Burrell, Carl Anderson, Obba Babatunde, Shirley Caesar, Ray Parker Jr., andEdwin Hawkins. Film scoring includes Kings of the Evening and Clarissa’s Gift. Books includeThe Virtuous Man – Breaking The Men’s Code and The Kevin Toney Collection. Awards include two Grammy nominations, three RIAA Gold Record awards, an NAACP Image Award, and a National Endowment ror the Arts Fellowship Grant.www.kevintoney.com
ABOUT THE CAST AND DESIGN TEAM:
JAKE BRODER (Ira Gershwin) co-wrote and originated the role of Louis Prima in Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, winning three Ovation Awards, LADCC, Garland, and LA Weekly awards for Best Actor and Best Production. Originating at Sacred Fools and directed by Jeremy Aldridge, the production transferred for a 9 month run at the Geffen, directed by Taylor Hackford. As an actor, Jake’s other theatre credits include: Mozart in Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall (Old Vic London, Broadway, L.A.), When Harry Met Sally with Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry (Theater Royal Haymarket, London), Lord Buckley in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley (Off Broadway, Off West End, L.A.) and Ophelia & Juliet in the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of Shakespeare at the Criterion in London. Film includes: Bad Milo!, Kevin Spacey‘s Beyond the Sea, Shadow Dancer, L’entente Cordiale, In A Day, and The Barn (for which he was awarded the 2004 BIFA award), The Chicago 8, and the upcoming thriller Sleepwalker, withRichard Armitage. Television Includes: a recurring role on Silicon Valley (HBO), Company Town (CW), The Cleaner (A&E), How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Keen Eddie (FOX),Roman Mysteries (BBC), Strange (BBC), Line of Beauty (BBC), Broken News (BBC), Auf Weidersein Pet (BBC), and recurring role on The Eagle (Denmark-Winner of a 33rd International Emmy). His writing includes the produced plays Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara as well as His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley, and the forthcoming Our American Hamlet in development with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. He trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and lived and worked there for 15 years before coming back to the United States. In NY, he studied saxophone with Lee Konitz and went to the New England Conservatory & Tufts University. He is a citizen of the US and the UK. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Lucy Davenport Broder, and Ella (7) and Louis (6 Months).
ELIJAH ROCK (Crooner) is proud to be back home at the Colony Theatre! For his performance of Roland Hayes in Breath and Imagination at the Colony, Elijah won the 2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Male Equity. Recently, he reprised the role of Hayes in Breath and Imagination with ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Theatre in Boston. He is also thrilled to debut his Jazz Cabaret show at the Colony. In film, Elijah is set to star in the biopic Lincoln Perry (Stepin Fetchit), to be directed by award-winning writer/director Antwone Fisher. Last season, Elijah made his television debut as a recurring guest star in season 2 of Showtime’s hit drama, Masters of Sex. He is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association(AEA) and SAG-AFTRA. Website: www.elijahrock.net twitter:@elijahrock
ANGELA TEEK (Chanteuse) appeared on the original Star Search hosted by Ed McMahon where she was undefeated ten consecutive weeks winning the $100,000 grand prize as female vocalist champ. Legendary producerDavid Merrick took notice and cast her in the leading role of Kay in George Gershwin‘s musical Oh Kay and played Sara in the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime. She went on to perform with the Roanoke Symphony where she broke all attendance records in an hour-long tribute to Gershwin and Cole Porter. She was Don Rickles‘s opening act in an extended Las Vegas engagement at the Golden Nugget Hotel. She has appeared on a number of television shows and continued performing on stage in leading roles such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Beehive, You Never Know (for which she was nominated for an NAACP Best Supporting Performance Award), and as a featured vocalist with the highly-acclaimed international dance production show Burn the Floor. Most recently, Angela has performed leading roles in Sophisticated Ladies, the world premiere of Ray Charles Live at the Pasadena Playhouse directed by Sheldon Epps, the world premiere of The Princess and the Back-Eyed Pea at San Diego Rep, the Toronto company of Rock of Ages, and Queen for a Day starring Alan Thicke. Currently, she is the voice for Viv and Mama Bear on the award-winning cartoon Peg + Cat on PBS. Angela is thrilled to be performing at The Colony Theatre for the first time and with another Gershwin musical. angelateek.bandcamp.com
WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN features an award-winning design team. The Scenic Design is by David Potts (Emmy Award – HBO’s Deadwood). The Costume Design is by Dianne K. Graebner (Ovation nominations – The Brothers Karamazov andBattle Hymn). The Lighting Design is by Jared A. Sayeg (Ovation nominations – Trying and Kiss Me, Kate). The Sound Design is by Drew Dalzell (Ovation Award – Songs for a New World). Property Design and Set Dressing is by Colony Theatre resident propmaster John M. McElveney and Scenic Art is by resident artist Orlando de la Paz.
WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN will open on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, May 17. Performances for WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN are Thursdays & Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm; and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $20.00 – $49.00 (group discounts are available). WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN will preview on Wednesday, April 15; Thursday, April 16; and Friday, April 17 at 8:00pm at The Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street (at Cypress) adjacent to the Burbank Town Center Mall. Opening night performance with reception – all tickets $55.00. There are question-and-answer talkbacks after the performances on Friday, April 24 and Thursday, May 7. For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext. 15or online at www.ColonyTheatre.org.
The Colony Theatre has long been a vibrant center of L.A.’s theatre life. Its subscribers renew at an astounding rate of 90%, and in 2012 the theatre received nine Ovation Award nominations, including the coveted one for Best Season. From its beginnings in 1975 as a 99-seat Equity-waiver theatre in Silver Lake, the company became so successful artistically, and built such a large subscriber base, that in 2000 it was able to move into a 270-seat state-of-the-art theatre created for it by the City of Burbank. As such, it became one of only a handful of mid-sized professional theatres in the L.A. area that produce a year-round season of plays and musicals, and that employ actors under contract with Actors’ Equity Association. The theatre is located at 555 North Third Street, at the corner of Cypress, in the heart of Downtown Burbank.
His performance lands a prestigious award! Elijah Rock has been named the winner of the 2014 NAACP Theater Award for Best Male Equity performer for his role in “Breath and Imagination-The Story of Roland Hayes.” The announcement on November 17th, 2014 is an honor for Rock. The award-winning actor, singer, writer, producer, and entrepreneur was cast in the story written by award-winning playwright Daniel Beaty and staged at the renown Colony Theater in Burbank, California. “It’s truly humbling to be a recognized for such a distinguished achievement,” says Rock. “To be a part of a production, which has received nine NAACP Nominations and two OVATION Award Nominations, is truly an honor.”
Elijah Rock is Nominated for 2014 24th Annual NAACP Theatre Award for Equity Best Male Lead!
COME ON OUT AND SEE OUR SHORT FILM
Starring Elijah Rock and Frederick Frazier
Directed by Shelton Mack
SATURDAY OCTOBER 26th @ 4pm!!!
“Rock’s sensitive portrayal captures Hayes’ determination to shape his own destiny, as well as his calm humility in the face of racial prejudice and resistance from his deeply religious mother (Karan Kendrick)…”Rock’s musical delivery is more nuanced, incorporating an initial hesitancy appropriate to the early stages of the singer’s development, only to emerge with soul-stirring confidence in the mature Hayes’ recitals of material ranging from gospel to lieder to opera.”
The soul-stirring voices of Karan Kendrick and Elijah Rock bring the biography of trailblazing tenor Roland Hayes to life in “Breath and Imagination.” (Michael Lamont / September 10, 2013)
TO READ BEVERLY HILLS CANYON NEWS Interview with ELIJAH ROCK Click Link below:
HELLO AMERICA!—Be on the lookout for Elijah Rock who is an astounding, compelling serious actor, singer and comedian. He is one of those gifted artists who arrived in Hollywood unafraid of hard work and a sense of reality that it takes to be successful in the toughest game in the world.
MSJ: Looking at your reel, you have an enormous rage as an actor-entertainer. When did you first realize that you had such a need, a passion to perform in film or on stage?
ER: I started performing when I was very young, in my community church, in Cleveland, OH. That’s where my mother first noticed that I hada gift and passion for singing. Reinforced by the music teacher in my elementary and junior high school, I was accepted into the Cleveland Opera Children’s Chorus and the Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus. Meanwhile at school, I was performing in Choir and even played Snoopy in the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.” This diversity of experiences was the foundation for what has followed. As a youth, I never thought much about film. That evolved much later in my career. Singing and acting on a stage was my home away from home.
MSJ: Who were some of the entertainers or actors who influenced you most when you began your career and why?
ER: My greatest influences are Paul Robeson, Bert Williams, Step and Fetchit, Sammy Davis, Jr. Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, James Brown, Franco Corelli, Al Pachino and Denzel Washington. I know this sounds like a crazy range of entertainers, but classical music was a huge influence in my life. I even played classical guitar and cello as a youth. I’ve always had a passion for Vaudeville and the history of the theatre artists across the board: music, stage and cinema. And being a classically trained vocalist in bel canto and in the theatre at the Cleveland Karamu House, I would always be drawn to the great performing artists of past generations.
MSJ: Realizing how difficult it is to get doors open to an actor, did you at first hesitate and then decided to simply go for it.
ER: I was fortunate to excel in the arts while being a youth. I was able to attend Interlochen ArtsAcademy for two summers in high school before going to The Cleveland Institute of Music where I studied voice. When I decided to make a go of it professionally, I had no reservations because I organically felt that I had what it took to succeed to be a working entertainer. I think I knew it was my purpose before I understood the full meaning of what having a strong purpose was all about. I just knew that I wanted to develop into a well-rounded artist who had a diverse skill set, like an amalgamation of the kinds of talents my influences had. I truly had a strong idea of who I wanted to model myself after and almost unconsciously, that is what has happened in more ways than I can even articulate at the moment. I am grateful that my talents allow me to create in very diverse ways, which makes the kinds of characters I am attracted to very exciting.
MSJ: What was the first show you appeared in and how did it make you feel? And what kind of roles are you drawn to? I ask this because of the enormous dramatic and comic range you definitely have.
ER: Wow, well since I went to an all-boy elementary school, the first amateur show was Charlott’s Webb in the fifth grade. And yes, I played Charlotte! I felt proud and affirmed in my ability to convey a conflicted spider. LOL It was the first time I experienced the extraordinary sensation of storytelling. I am drawn to complex characters, whether dramatic or comedic. Being an observer of humanity and living my own life, there is so much to draw from. I just want to be challenged so I can continue to grow as an artist…I suppose that will be the case for the course of my life. Like many actors, I was the class clown, thus comedy comes pretty naturally. I approach Drama in the same way…LIFE has all the answers.
MSJ: How has Hollywood changed your perspective as an entertainer? Are you forced to accept assignments that you feel are beneath you as an actor or comedian?
ER: I realized early on, that entertainment is a business. It’s the business of SHOW. So, I knew that to be successful enough to make a healthy living, I would need to learn how the biz works. As much as a fine artist I am, I know that for an artist to economically sustain and grow in their business, monetization is a requirement. I think I get the fundamentals of how Hollywoodworks which happens over time by being here and navigating the waters. It’s a tricky place to be if you don’t have a strong purpose as an entertainer. They say that as many people arrive today to pursue a career in Hollywood, the same number of people are packing their bags to leave. During a rehearsal in one of the first equity shows I did at The Great Lakes Theater Festival, in Cleveland, an actor said to me, “Remember kid, overnight success in Hollywood is ten years.” There’s a lot of truth in that, and his words have stuck with me. I never take on a role or create in any way that I feel is beneath me because I only work in the spirit of excellence. I will pass on a project that I feel is not where my heart lies. To do so, would be an injustice to myself and to my craft. For me, it’s about building a body of work that I can be proud of and inspired by. I believe in creating with intention.
MSJ: What kind of challenge are you still looking forward to handle as a performer? Is it more as a comic or as a dramatic actor since it is obvious that you easily can handle both?
ER: I just want to play the characters that I’m supposed to play with the talents and skill-set I have. I want to be challenged to do great work with the amazing artists in cinema and on stage. Great storytelling is where it’s all at for me, from a film, to communicating the lyric of a song or melody, this is the spirit truly living and what we as humans need to soulvive. I say “soulvive” because art touches the SOUL in the most profound ways. It’s part of our human nature. Thus when we walk outside and experience the beauty of the trees, flowers, ocean, wildlife; they naturally connect with our inner being. Our job as Artists is to reconnect people to their feelings and that’s what keeps us in touch with “feeling” alive…our reason for living. We are here to Be our natural selves but the Artist is most responsible to reflect life back to the living.
MSJ: Have you changed very much since those earlier days hoping to be recognized as some one special? If so, how so?
ER: I think I’ve grown as an Artist for sure and of course I’ve thought along the way at times, “When and Where will my talents be recognized at the next level?” For someone who loves his craft, I think I just wanted to stay busy creating, even though it was also tough dealing with the inconsistencies of my financial domain. I’d heard people say, “Acting is for rich kids who can be supported by their families for the years it takes for them to make a living.” I think that’s why so many people quit, because it’s just too difficult to undergo the stress of financial starvation for years, before things start to really happen. I empathize with them because I get it. I am grateful I found ways to stick it out and for the support I cultivated around me. I’m not where I envision to be yet, but I feel exciting opportunities coming ahead. I think a big change happened a few years ago, when I wrote down my mission/vision statement. Somehow it gave my career a direction and blueprint for me to follow.
MSJ: When are you the happiest? Is it when you are facing an audience or creating a character in front of a camera?
ER: I love it All. I’m happiest, creating in the moment, nothing like it in the world. It’s like being water with no directional path. Simply water that is allowed to flow. Both disciplines are unique and thrilling in their own ways. They are just so very different. Nothing compares with a live audience in terms of immediate feedback. It is in some ways the most organic, relational experience you can have with the receiver of your story; it is the raw essence of storytelling in all of it’s purity, since the very dawn of humanity. Film, is a first cousin and embodies nuances that are remarkable. It’s amazing how film can touch us in visceral ways as well. You have a moving picture accompanied by sound. In film, the camera reads the intimacy of your thoughts. On stage you have a fourth wall to play to.
MSJ: Check Elijah Rock out. He is quite a guy — an extraordinary talent!
Elijah Rock plays the role of Tater in the groundbreaking NEW bluegrass Musical
Benefit Performance February 2, 2013 7pm $75.00
Opens to the Public February 8, 2013
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm Sundays at 2pm
Book by Bill Robertson and Tom Sage
Music and Lyrics by Cliff Wagner