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.

For the Record: Review of a Coen Brothers Musical

One of the charges often leveled at Dudeism is that the concept of a religion based on a movie is necessarily ludicrous. Well, that’s just like, their opinion man. An opinion, mind you, which is based on the ludicrous idea that the more traditional something is, the more profound it must be.

Surely this is an idea that has been under attack for the last 100 years. Culture evolves and reinterprets itself constantly. And it is in this reinterpreting that culture is, er, cultivated– not via a fascist allegiance to static forms. What is that, some kind of yogurt? It increases the chances of conception.

That’s the way the whole durn human comedy perpetuates itself: Religious scholarship in the 20th century showed that virtually everything in Judeo-Christianity originated from the Zoroastrians and the Egyptians. And after that, the philosophical Postmodern movement helped show how pretty much everything else we held dear was also built on filched content and borrowed assumptions. Aitz chaim he, Dude. The tree of life is a burning bush.

Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone under 20 years old, that is to say, babysat by the Internet. The implicit “replay culture” of the ‘Net has disassembled and reinterpreted content in ways that both honor old ideas and provide new ways of thinking about things. And while this is especially evident in music via sampling and remixes, it has also long been crucial to the works of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and our beloved Coen Brothers. What is The Big Lebowski, after all, but a two-hour mash-up of the whole durn human comedy?

Certainly all forms of art have been subject to remixes and mashups and mulitlayered parodies. But theater? Well, Dude, we just don’t know. The average person doesn’t get to watch much theater these days. Luckily for this author, the other night he got to experience  a particularly far out piece of mashed up musical theater which really tied the room together, in the every sense of the word. And it was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.

For the Record is a production currently hosted at a small bar/restaurant in Los Angeles which takes a totally novel approach: Take live performances of songs from the soundtracks of all of a particular director’s films and weave them together with riffs on scenes from the films, into what amounts to a retrospective of an entire body of work. Uni-verses, if you will.

The effect is not unlike being transported into one of the dream sequences from The Big Lebowski, especially since the actor-singers interact so exuberantly with the audience as they dance and sing and act their way around the bar, and oftentimes upon the bar itself (hold your oat sodas close to your chest as they mambo along the marble).

Starting with songs from O Brother, Where Art Thou, then meandering through Fargo, True Grit, Miller’s Crossing, Intolerable Cruelty, A Serious Man, The Hudsucker Proxy, it finally arrives at the moment we’d all been waiting for: The Big Lebowski. Already nominated by one of our Dudespaper writers as a candidate for a musical, it indeed turned out to be a fucking far out experience.

One of the best things about the show is that the producers made sure not to hew too closely to the original script, reinventing certain scenes and choosing unusual characters to perform certain songs (knockout Jackie Seiden’s rendition of Elvis Costello’s “My Mood Swings” as Bunny Lebowski was particularly noteworthy) or performing songs in a totally different style (An R&B version of “The Man in Me” sung by Rogelio Douglas Jr. provided everyone in the room, oh, what a wonderful feeling).

A hilarious highlight was Ginnifer King’s delightfully demented version of Tammy, set against a backdrop of Marty the Landlord’s dance cycle. Of course Anderson Davis’ Dude and Jason Paige’s Walter were also fantastic – though their talent shone more brightly in numbers from other Coen movies, along with Steve Mazurek, who appeared as both the Stranger and Donny. The three were especially good as the trio in the O Brother Where Art Thou portion of the show. Milena Govich’s Maude was also stunning, though it was her wildly sexy turn in Hudsucker Proxy’s Habanera that blew back the collective hair of the audience. Finally, Danielle Truitt performed the most outrageously laughworthy number of the night, Fargo’s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” as a totally inebriated Dion Warwick-hits-rock-bottom type character.

It’s a bit hard to convey just how disarmingly different this approach to theater seems to be. Part rock concert, part dinner theater, part psychedelic dream sequence and all fun as hell. Moreover, ingenious producers Shane Scheel and Christopher Lloyd Bratten have also performed the same treatment on the oeuvres of Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann and John Hughes. Next up? Paul Thomas Anderson. But since the Coen Brothers show is only playing for a few more weeks, you’ll have to hurry to get tickets. Every night sells out, so don’t take er too easy, Dude.

For more information or to get tickets, click here.

For a few off the cuff videos of the performance visit this video album. Be aware that my poor camera skills and random shooting is not representative of the whole. The best parts were too good to watch through a video camera.


Via The Dudespaper.

For the Record: Coen Bros.

L.A.’s best theatrical experience—Show at Barre’s For the Record series—continues its rotation of cabaret-style shows with the return of one of its most popular: For the Record: Coen Bros. Taking songs from the film’s soundtracks and rearranging them into a phenomenal interactive concert experience is just one of the many pleasures of this innovative series.

Featuring songs from films such as O Brother Where Art ThouFargo and The Big Lebowski, the Coen Bros. would seem at first to be an odd choice for a concert event. But interestingly enough, the music the directors chose for their films perfectly captures the essence of the film itself. What the For the Record casts do with those songs, however, is the real surprise.

Opening with songs from O Brother starts the night off with a rousing good time with the entire cast contributing to various numbers as well as three of the guys taking on the roles made famous by George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. Likewise, the gals of the cast collaborated on a head-nodding version of “Don’t Leave Nobody But the Baby.” But it’s the more interesting change-ups that brought the biggest surprises. “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’” made famous by Nancy Sinatra, here, is given a rousing male version by Jason Paige. In the same vein, hearing Danielle Truitt sing a slightly bluesy and powerful take on “Danny Boy” from the film Miller’s Crossing is to hear the song for the first time.

As usual, every performer in the show exhibits a wow factor that needs to be witnessed. With most of the 12 members of the rotating cast being Broadway veterans, there really isn’t a better group of singer/actors in L.A. This is truly the best ensemble you will see in any Los Angeles show and to be able to behold such talent on a weekly basis is L.A.’s gift to music and film lovers anywhere.

And here’s the thing—you don’t need to know the films of the Coen Bros. to enjoy this show. I had only seen four of the nine films showcased. But that doesn’t matter.  The scenes the cast acts out in between numbers are still hilarious and the arrangements of the songs (by co-creator Christopher Bratten) are just as awesome and surprising as the performers. Having recently taken their “Tarantino” installment to SXSW—playing an expanded version in a 2,500-seat theatre—it is quite possible this show will be headed to bigger and broader places in the near future. Broadway anyone? So if you want to say you saw it from the beginning, get your butt to Show at Barre pronto. It’s already an enormously popular series, and it’s a definite must-see for the gay community who a) have a particular love of musical theater, and b) who appreciate awesome vocal talent—and let’s face it—a freakin’ gorgeous cast. Even a 100 percent gay man like myself has about four crushes on the show’s female performers.

While the rotating cast might give you a different (but always amazing) experience, the opening night cast was phenomenal as usual. When you hear the stunning Jackie Seiden sing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” from True Grit you will fall in love. Ginifer King’s sassy takes on songs like “Tammy” from The Big Lebowski will make you an instant fan. And Melena Govich is just a constant surprise you can’t help but eagerly await what number she has next. And I’ll say it again: Truitt’s “Danny Boy.” It got a standing ovation. Just sayin.

As for the guys—again—all spectacular. Handsome Steve Mazurek charms his way through a number of songs with a silky and seductive voice. Mischievous Jason Paige belts out his numbers in a gorgeously raspy tone that knocks you out with its power. And Anderson Davis wows with not only his numerous and varied characterizations, but his many vocal acrobatics. And any time Rogelio Davis Jr. takes the stage the energy in the room goes up about a thousand percent.

If you haven’t yet seen any of the installments of For the Record, I urge you to quickly get a seat. You will have one of the most entertaining nights you’ve had in a long time and trust me when I tell you, you will be back: not only for future installments (the next of which is a show based on the songs used by director Paul Thomas Anderson), but by bringing all of your friends so you can share the experience again and again.  It’s really that good.

For The Record: Coen Brothers runs through Sunday, April 29. Weekly performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. For ticket information, please call (323) 661-6163 ext. 20 or visit fortherecordlive.com

Via FrontiersLA.

Find the best Los Angeles things to do for the weekend of 4.06.12

For the Record – The Coen Brothers
Apr. 5-29. This 360-degree theatrical concert and dining experience features world-class performers who bring the movies to life with signature songs and moments from films directed by the Coen brothers including O Brother, Where Art ThouFargoHudsucker Proxy and The Big Lebowski, among others. Arrive early and enjoy Barre Vermont’s California cuisine and cocktails. Thurs.-Sun. $35. 1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A., 323.661.6163 fortherecordlive.com

Via WHERE Magazine.

Coen Fishin’ – Singing along to cult classics at Barre

Fargo and The Big Lebowski are likely in your esteemed movie collection, but have they ever prompted you to burst into song and dance?

For the performers and choreographers behind Coen Brothers: For the Record, the answer is most definitely. 

Spend the night with Walter, The Dude, Marge (spot-on Minnesotan accent included) and the Soggy Bottom Boys singing along to songs from Coen classics, including “Somebody To Love,” “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” and “The Boxer.”
Come hungry – while the Broadway-caliber performers dance around you (it’s intimate), you’re encouraged to nosh on Kobe sliders and panchetta pizza with carmelized onion, gorgonzola cheese, crème fraiche and fig jam.

There are five specialty Coen-centric drinks too, like the tequila-based Burn After Drinking, though the obvious choice isthe Caucasian – with Absolut Vodka, Kahlua and cream, it’s practically the Dude’s signature White Russian.

Robe optional.

For The Record: Coen Brothers
Friday, April 6 through Sunday, April 29
1714 N. Vermont Ave. (Prospect Ave.), Los Feliz

Tickets: $35
Hot seat: The bar, which doubles as a stage at times.
Parking: Valet behind the restaurant
Nearby: Figaro Bistrot; Dresden Room; Rockwell

Via The Rundown LA.

This Weekend: Beer & Tequila Pairing, Maker’s Mark Mixer, Pour Vous Opens

For the Record: The Coen Brothers
Fans of the Coen Brothers’ movies have to see this cabaret-style show based on the films of Joel and Ethan Coen. Sing along to songs from Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother, Where Art Thou and, naturally, The Big Lebowski. Here’s LAist’s review of the show if you wanna see what it’s about. Get 60 percent off tickets by using the code: DUDE.

  • 9pm. $35. Show at Barre, 1714 N Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles (map). Tickets: (323) 661-6163 ext. 20, www.fortherecordlive.com.

Via Caroline on Crack.

For the Record – Coen Brothers

ForCombines East Coast traditional Broadway theatrics with the style and spectacle of Los Angeles, taking audiences on an emotional voyage while laughing at some of their dark comedies’ funniest moments, clapping to energizing bluegrass tunes and singing along to memorable soundtrack successes. Features songs and scenes from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Fargo,” “Hudsucker Proxy” and “The Big Lebowski” among others.

When – Recurring every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
             Thursday, April 5, 2012-Sunday, April 29, 2012.
Time – Check website for times
Price – $35

Venue – Show at Barre 1714 N. Vermont Los Angeles, CA 90027 323-661-6163