Hollywood Does Broadway

I was at a dinner party at an impeccable mansion in Beverly Hills when one of the guests started talking about Wicked. Then he said the gayest thing I have ever heard. ‘I’ve seen Wicked 20 times.’ And when I told him that he laughed, and I instantly realised he was super special gay. Chris Diamond is so super special in fact he puts on what is undoubtedly the best night out in Los Angeles.

It’s called Show At Barre Presents: For The Record. It’s at Vermont Kitchen & Bar. One half serves delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere (in fact the kitchen serves at the Elton John Oscar party every year). The other half is a cocktail bar that features Show At Barre Presents: For The Record. And it’s the most wonderful melding of Broadway and Hollywood. The shows consist of a musical version of the directors’ most known films. They work with the soundtrack from the original movie. Each show features the work of a different auteur. When it was Baz Luhrmann he turned up to the show, as did Tarantino.

It’s an intimate, cosy, dark bar which comes to life when a cast runs through it, and performs on a small stage in front and on the bar itself and among the audience. I saw For The Record: Coen Brothers – musical version of the Coen Brothers’ finest works: O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, True Grit, Hudsucker Proxy, and The Big Lebowski.

They act out the most memorable scenes and fit them around the songs from the soundtrack They give you delicious Coen libations, Burn After Drinking – tequila, sweet and sour lime juice and jalapenos. Or The Hudsucker – Absolut Orange, St. Germain, Triple Sec and Alizé. I had a Blueberry Lemon Drop, which was potent and sweet, like the show itself.

The performers were mostly Broadway veterans, amazing voices and great panache.

Future shows include For The Record: Martin Scorsese, followed by Paul Thomas Anderson. There’s also a Cameron Crowe show featuring Jerry Maguire, Elizabethtown, Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. The Scorsese even features Casino, The Departed, Goodfellas and Raging Bull.

The shows have become so popular with lines around the block they are expanding into a new 200-seat showroom. There is something amazing though about having the Frances McDormand pregnant cop from Fargo poking her baby bump a few inches from your face. Magnificent.

Show At Barre Presents For The Record is at Vermont Kitchen & Bar, 1714 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Tel: (323) 661-6163

Via Beauty & the Dirt.

Tight Spaces

I went to an incredible show last night called “For the Record: Baz Luhrmann,” a concert featuring tons of music from Baz Luhrmann’s films. Luhrmann is probably best known for Moulin Rouge, and he also directed the version of Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, and a fun dance movie called Strictly Ballroom. Music is an integral part of all three films, and this show features tons of songs from those three films, with snippets of dialogue and scenes in between. Check out some clips:

My friend Natalie and I went because one of our friends from college, Darryl Semira, was in the cast. The concert tells the basic story of Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge, and Darryl played Romeo in the first half, and the smarmy Duke in the second. It’s a small cast – 4 men and 4 women – and most of them (Darryl included) have been on Broadway and done TV and film. Everyone was amazing. Unbelievable sets of pipes on all of them.

What’s really fun about the show is that’s it’s rather immersive. The venue, Barre Vermont, is a restaurant and bar, and while there’s a tiny stage at one end of the room where the band plays, the singers are all over the place. They’re on that stage, a second stage in the middle of the audience, the aisle running down the length of the room, and on top of the bar. There were plenty of moments when I could have reached out and touched Darryl or his castmates. It’s very intimate.

Intimate is the polite way of saying it. It’s not a lie to say that we were packed in there like sardines. The audience sat around tables, and they were very close together. The aisle that the cast sang in can’t be more than two feet wide, and the singers took advantage of the proximity: they flirted and played with audience members, and one guy even took a sip of an audience member’s champagne. In addition to the performers, the restaurant staff was navigating the room, delivering food and drinks. On one point during the show, our waiter was leaning in from the aisle, over my lap, passing four cups of coffee to the table behind me. I didn’t mind the close quarters – it’s kinda fun, to be honest – and it was the second time I’ve been there, so I was familiar with the space. Here’s a picture of the venue from Yelp – imagine this room with 100 people in it:

I got up to use the restroom during intermission, and there were a couple times, getting to and from my seat, when I had to turn sideways in the narrow aisle to let other people pass. After the show, I told Natalie that I would have hated this venue a few years ago, and it’s true. When I was 400 pounds I would’ve been miserable. Turning sideways in the aisle wouldn’t have done a lick of good – others would’ve had to do that to let me pass. Last night I was able to fit between seat backs to get to my seat, but back then, everyone between me and my seat would’ve had to scooch their chairs or get up altogether. I would’ve felt terribly self-conscious, to the point where it would hinder my enjoyment of the show.

What an awesome feeling it was to be in an environment that, just a few short years ago, would’ve been dreadful and sweat-inducing! I’ll never get tired of the unexpected moments when I realize my weight loss has positively changed the way I experience seemingly random events, like concerts. It’s the little things, like last night’s concert, that remind me of the gravity of my accomplishments, and encourage me to stay on track.


PS – “For the Record: Baz Luhrmann” is closing this weekend, but its sister show, “For the Record: The Coen Brothers,” is opening next week. Click here for show/ticket info.

Via Keep It Up David.

‘For the Record’ returns to Ace Hotel with Baz Luhrmann films’ music

Ginifer King and Derek Klena perform at Barre restaurant in Los Angeles. / Photos courtesy of EDA Publicity

Music plays a lead role in so many films, yet rarely sees the spotlight.

Not so in the “For the Record” concert series. The Los Angeles production coming to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs this week exalts the film soundtrack in an unconventional way.

The latest show takes on director Baz Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy” — “Romeo + Juliet,” “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge.” A talented cast that includes Broadway alumni and television actors perform the films’ music in the roles of main characters.

“To hear Juliet sing ‘Lovefool’ and to hear Romeo sing ‘To You I Bestow’ and ‘You and Me,’” says co-creator Christopher Lloyd Bratten, “all of a sudden these songs take on a whole new meaning.”

It’s not a staging of the films. In fact, the term “musical theater” knits Bratten’s brows.

“It’s immersive; there’s no fourth wall,” he said, trying to put the show into words, though most people tell him they’ve never seen anything like it.

“The music comes first; the stories are sort of there to help give the music context.”

When actors Jackie Seiden (Juliet) and Michael Motroni (Harold Zidler in “Moulin Rouge”) are charged with describing what it is, they take turns saying what it isn’t.

Performers Darryl Semira (left) and Michael Motroni as characters from “Moulin Rouge.”

“It’s not a jukebox musical,” she says.

“It’s not dinner theater,” he adds. “It’s edgy; it’s raw.”

“They’ve just turned it upside-down.”

“It’s not cabaret.”

“Right,” she says. “It’s a hybrid of all these things.”

Five nights a week at Barre restaurant in L.A.’s Los Feliz district, actors spend as much time on two small stages as they do in the smaller spaces between packed tables and on bar tops. They sing, dance and steal a swig or two from audience members’ drinks.

Bratten and co-creator Shane Scheel brought “For the Record: John Hughes” to the Ace in December. Staged poolside, the show took on a new energy.

“I think the show lends itself to any space,” said Seiden, who played Molly Ringwald in the Hughes show. “Whatever space we’re given, we’ll always utilize every corner.”

The rotating casts keeps the show dynamic, cast members said. Most nights Peter Porte performs as Christian in “Moulin Rouge,” he doesn’t know who he’ll play opposite.

“Before I would be very interested in who I was going to be going on with that day,” he said. “Now I literally show up and I’m like, who is my Satine today? Who am I falling in love with tonight?”

The four-piece band, on the other hand, is the same each night. It plays live accompaniment for all of the songs, including “Kissing You,” “Time After Time” and “Your Song.”

Luhrmann attended the show last April and called it an out-of-body experience — and “(expletive) awesome.”

But Bratten promises it’s not just for movie buffs.

“We have people who come to these shows who have never even heard of the director and never seen the movies and still enjoy themselves,” he said.

Via MyDesert.com

Palm Springs: A night at Ace Hotel with Baz Luhrmann (sort of)

Ginifer King performs in "For the Record: Baz Luhrmann" at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs next week. (Ace Hotel Palm Springs / March 22, 2012)

Director Baz Luhrmann’s movies come to life in “For the Record,” a live cabaret-type show that’s a fusion of film, music and theater. Ace Hotel in Palm Springs will host this production next week and offers a special hotel rate for those who stay overnight.

The deal: The For the Record package takes 15% off room prices and includes two tickets to the show and a $25 spa credit. Use the promo code “Record” when making a reservation online or by phone.

Actress Ginifer King of “Gypsy” and seven others perform songs from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge.” Upcoming performances are to feature the films of Quentin Tarantino on June 13 and 14, the Coen brothers on Sept. 12 and 13, and John Hughes on Dec. 12 and 13.

When: The offer is good Wednesday and Thursday night.

Tested: I found availability for a room with two double beds for the discounted rate of $177 (instead of $209) plus tax and fees. The room comes with two tickets to the show ($20 each) plus the spa credit.

Info: Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, (760) 325-9900

Via Los Angeles Times.

Show at Barre’s For the Record Does Tarantino, Luhrmann, Hughes

If you’re a movielover in Los Angeles, you probably know about the spectacular For the Record concert series that’s become Show at Barre’s signature. But for everyone else, the series had its breakout moment (where else) at SXSW 2012, when it presented the World Theatrical Debut of  Tarantino In Concert at Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts last week.

The series gives some of the greatest soundtracks in all of cinema a full theatrical treatment, combined (at Barre) with an old fashioned cabaret dining and drinks experience.  In the past, Show at Barre in Los Angeles has performed Sincerely John Hughes and the Tarantino show. Right now, they’re celebrating the Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet director’s soundtracks with For the Record: Baz Luhrmann (a show they recently extended!).

Here’s the promo for the Tarantino show:

And because one video just isn’t enough to illustrate the profound awesomeness of Show at Barre, here’s a clip from the Luhrmann concert:

Via Midnite Ticket.

Hooked on a feeling: For the Record: Tarantino in Concert celebrates the uncanny genius of the director’s soundtracks

Die-hard fans of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino know the dedication the geek autuer puts into choosing the epic soundtracks for his films.

Think of the songs you remember from classic Tarantino scenese like Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” in Pulp Fiction and everything from the 5,6,7,8’s in Kill Bill, Part 1. From classic oldies to moody sleeper tracks, Tarantino is a master at establishing mood and tone in his films through his brilliant application of just the right tracks.

A touring concert of live music, live performance and film sequences gathers these indelible musical achievements into a whirlwind production called For the Record: Tarantino in Concert. This is the fourth in a series of director-inspired soundtrack musicals by Los Angles based company, Show At Barre. (The other directorial insprations being The Coen Brothers, John Hughes and Baz Luhrmann.) Their latest soundtrack reinterpretation makes its world premiere at The Long Center during SXSW.

The show is not an official SXSW event, says Show At Barre Artistic Director Shane Scheel, but it is appropriate that the show happens during this week considering its seemless integration of music and film. More engaging than just film, more visual than just music — For the Record reimagines the two elements in a completely unexpected way.

“SXSW just celebrated its 25th year, and Tarantino has been making movies for just as long. So it’s actually a perfect blend of all the elements involved,” Scheel adds.

While the filmmaker will most likely not be in attendance, his influence and artistry will be in grand display throughout the show. Live musicians will play the famous scores from his span of movies starting with Reservoir Dogs and ending with Inglorious Basterds while performers like Death Proof‘s Tracy Thoms will provide the vocals and choreography.

“We have such an amazing talent pool in our company now,” Scheel explains. “We’ve got people who have been on American Idol and Bravo’s Platinum Hit, others who have been on TV and film. It’s a very diverse group that has come together to form this family, which is really unique in L.A. because the city can feel very isolating and competitive. We’re really proud of that.”

Fans of Tarantino’s work, (which by now is really anyone who loves classic storytelling and doesn’t mind seeing excessive violence), will thrill at seeing the creative reinterpretations of these memorable songs presented in a brand new format.

Animated scenes, choreographed numbers and original filmed footage will transform the scenes and songs you’re familiar with. “It is definitely not a Broadway revue,” clarifies Scheel. “We don’t want anyone to confuse it as that.”

Scheel and his Show At Barre co-creator Christopher Bratten are both huge Tarantino fans and actually originated the idea of the directorial dedication show with his music in mind. Years later, after producing three other such shows with Show at Barre, they’re excited to present For the Record on a larger stage and scale than ever before.

“We started doing these shows one night a week at the bar I run in East Hollywood,” recalls Scheel,” and then we grew into doing it six nights a week. So people have definitely responded; they get it. So now we’re taking it way outside of the bar to explore what its life can be outside of the club and out of L.A. It’s a difference of about 2,200 seats between the club and the Long Center.”

The million dollar question is: Has Tarantino seen the show?

“Yeah, he’s seen it and he loves it. He drank me under the table after the show,” laughs Scheel. “We talked a long time afteward about the choices we made. Some of the lesser-known tracks, he even forgot about, so that was cool. So, yes, he knows we’re doing it and he has the invitation. But I believe he’s filming in Louisiana right now.”

Louisiana isn’t too far away from Austin, so who knows…?

For the Record: Tarantino in Concert premieres at The Long Center Mar 14 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the Long Center website.

Via Culture Map Austin.

Raising the Barre

Ginifer King in Tarantino in Concert (© Lily Lim)

Anyone who has encountered Show At Barre‘s For The Record series — which takes afamous film director’s repertoire and melds selections from the movies’ soundtracks and snippets from his films in a cohesive manner — knows something rare is being achieved.

And while the company continues to thrill Los Angeles audiences with it’s For The Record: Baz Lurhmann show, which continues it’s run at it’s home on 1714 N. Vermont Avenue through the end of the month, along with performances on March 28 and 29 at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs.

But Show at Barre has bigger plans on it’s horizons. On March 14, it will perform For The Record -Tarantino in Concert at the 2,300 seat Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, with a cast including Tracie Thoms, Annelies van der Pol, Ginifer King, Darryl Semira, and Von Smith.

Meanwhile, it’s breakout hit For The Record: John Hughes, which featured TV and Broadway star Barrett Foa, is looking for a New York City venue; and in May, the Los Angeles show will move to a much larger space at Vermont, with shows planned to salute Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Tim Burton, and Cameron Crowe.

The entire enterprise began when artistic director Shane Scheel and music supervisor Christopher Lloyd Bratten, who worked together on L.A.’s Upright Cabaret, were offered a residency at Vermont. “The owners wanted to create a show that used the same artists,” says Scheel. “And we wanted to go in a different direction from what did before. We thought ‘What if we cover a great album?’ which we took to ‘What about a soundtrack?’ And then Tarantino came up because of Pulp Fiction and his other movies.”

We always want to make sure we’re paying homage to works but we don’t want to imitate or parody,” says Bratten. “A show like the Baz Luhrman one writes itself, since his movies are essentially musical. The format and artistic element is obvious. But when we decided to do the Coen Brothers, we had to ask ‘What’s the overarching theme? How do we put these disparate elements into one show?’ It was interesting to see how these pieces fit together. Part of the show’s purpose is to educate audiences of the repertoire of the artists. They know the directors, they know the songs, but they don’t always put them together.”

With the location in the heart of Hollywood, the company has gotten positive reactions from celebrities, particularly the directors they’ve honored. “Baz’s reaction was caught on tape. It can be found on YouTube telling how much he loved the show,” Scheel says. “Tarantino showed up unannounced, took pictures, and did tequilla shots with us till 4am.”

“That was the night I feel like we were making some sort of waves,” says Bratten. “These directors have great taste in music and how it informs their films. They enjoy their own material examined in a way they haven’t seen before. When you watch a film, a soundtrack supports a film. What we do, is to have the film support the soundtrack. The soundtrack becomes the main event. The film snippets are nostalgia.”

The Austin performance will be very different than the one seen in Los Angeles, says Scheel. “We’re going to enhance what we usually do with video. It will still be an immersive experience, just amplified. We’ve been given a gift and have to figure out how to paint these pictures and tell this story and turn it on its ear.”

Von Smith in Tarantino in Concert (© Joanne DeCaro)

Many of the show’s cast members are looking forward to working in a much larger venue than Vermont, although they’ve grown to love the intimacy of the 100-seat venue.

“There’s a certain mark on everyone’s body you can reveal and you have the mark of Barre — a bruise on the upper thigh,” says Davis. “They are ugly purple and green, from running into every chair of the cramped space of the bar. There’s a lot of physical comedy that you can’t do in that space if you’re crammed between two audience members. It helps open up the door of creativity. And because the response of the audience is so immediate that if it’s an off-night, it’s obvious. That’s good feedback.”

“It’s not normal to be six inches from the audience or to be dancing on a bar,” says Semira. “At first, I had to focus on my performance, because you know someone’s going to spill a drink over here or someone is getting tipsy. You have to take it in and react to it. It’s a lot of fun once you take it in. Eventually, you find a relaxation in it. It brings the audience even closer because you’re on the same team with them. They feel they’re in safe hands that a performer can handle any unpredictability and respond and keep going.”

“Those mistakes, like someone having to go to the bathroom in the middle of a song, instead of ignoring it, I take it as a gift and include it in my performance,” says King. But with each production we learn just a little more what this is and what it’s evolving into. Shane and Chris get a clearer, concise way to tie the songs together. All the fat has been cut so you’re getting an exciting non-stop experience. And then you want to go home and watch the movie.”

Click here for more information and For The Record-Baz Luhrmann tickets.

Click here for more information and For the Record-Tarantino In Concert tickets.

Via Theater Mania.

Show at Barre, Treasure LA’s Top Five Places to Visit Right Now

Show at Barre is the ace up my sleeve when I need a fool-proof, magical LA night on the town. Cabaret, cocktails, dinner, beautiful people singing and dancing… all the good things in life are yours for the taking inside the Vermont in Los Feliz.

You’ve seen me rave about their cabaret shows based on films by the Coen Bros and John Hughes. Now, you can see their most crowd-pleasing and exhilarating show yet! For the Record: Baz Luhrmann features 27 songs from Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, and Moulin Rouge performed in a 360-degree theater by a rotating cast of talented Broadway and Off-Broadway beauties. Weekly performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 pm, and Wednesday and Sunday at 8 pm. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased online.

Show at Barre
1714 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Feliz

Via Treasure LA’s Five Places to Visit Right Now.