Kathy Leonardo

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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Event Review: Coming Out Kinky: A Grown Up Story at Promenade Playhouse!

In the program notes to her one-woman performance "Coming Out Kinky: A Grown Up comingoutKinky-1Story," Jean Franzblau posits the question: "Why do I want to expose details of my sex life publicly?"

With open and honest self reflection and humor, Jean skillfully weaves together anecdotes from her childhood sexual awakening through awkward adolescent self-deceptions, to adult relationship trials, tribulations, shame and recoveries, to a sense of non-judgemental self-acceptance and joy in the discovery and exploration in the community of others engaged in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism).

The light-hearted tone of the performance is set as she begins (and ends) the show by trying to respond to her mother about why she just broke up with her recent boyfriend. Throughout the 70-minute performance Jean describes and "acts out" her various sexual exploits with a sense of, at least after-the fact, the learning and development she gained. It felt as if we were invited into a "wonderland" as one experience makes her larger and one makes her small, and, to further quote the Jefferson Airplane's "Go Ask Alice" lyric, "And if you go chasing rabbits... know you're going to fall.. when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go."

ComingOutKinky11Though all about "sex", the essence of the show is about personal and spiritual growth with those awakenings punctuated by the moments when Jean freely dances to her own heart-beat.

"Coming Out Kinky" is directed by Karen Aschenbach, with lighting design by Argent Lloyd and music by Eric Schwartz. A portion of the proceeds of the show support Sex-Positive World (www.sexpositiveworld.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to making the world a sexier, more touch-positive, heart-centered and connected place.

The show continues May 11, 18, 25, June 1 and June 8 at Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, SM, CA 90401 8:30 pm; Sundays - 7:30 pm www.comingoutkinky.brownpapertickets.com

hotos by Benjamin Brooks

A Midsummer Night's Dream Delights the Senses at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage Performing Arts Center

BrBroadSTage-MSND-handspring-1istol Old Vic's artistic director, Tom Morris and Cape Town's Handspring Puppet Company come together for the first time since the internationally acclaimed "War Horse." This mystical, magical interpretation of Shakespeare's play within a play is a win.

Upon entering the architecturally modern space you are immediately enamored with the 499 seat theatre that has an intimate feel while somehow still seeming majestic. Actors are mingling with the audience in character before the play begins, which is both exciting and intimidating. The set is dark and mysterious. A wood and metal shop. Draped white cloth and a space void of color. The lights dim and the actors bid adieu to the audience and seamlessly take us on a journey of lover's passion, excitement, pain and silliness all sprinkled with a bit fairy dust, of course.

Oh the puppets! All twelve of the brilliantly talented actors morph from flesh and blood characters into breathing life into the puppets they man, allowing the imagination of the audience to soar. For example," puck" is created by constructing and deconstructing a puppet using things you would find in your tool shed...a watering can, wicker basket, hand saw and a hoe. The three actors (Lucy Tuck, Saikat Ahamed, Fionn Gill) simultaneously voice the puppet in such a way that you can't help but believe. The actors move beautifully while delivering Shakespeare's Iambic pentameter and changing back and forth from parts of the scenery to their character. In one such scene they hold planks of wood to become the trees in the forrest. It must be noted that all of the actors rarely leave the stage, adding to the intensity of the performance.

MiBroadStage-MSND-SimonAnnandltos Yerolemou's "Bottom" literally makes an ass out of himself. Lying on a trolly with his head for the donkey's tail, his bare bottom as the head and ears placed on his feet as he wheels about the space. Miltos is a standout with his impeccable comedic timing and ease. He kept the audience in stitches. The ensemble doesn't miss a beat and captivates during the entire almost three hour performance. The music and songs throughout create the perfect mood to add to the action on stage. The evening ended with a standing ovation and an audience that will surely be talking about this artistic endeavor that did not disappoint.

Photographs courtesy of Broad Stage and Simon Annand

Event Review - The Acro-Cats Go Hollywood

It was aEventReview-AcroCats-drummer crisp and sunny Sunday afternoon, when my feline-friendly gal-pals ventured out of our LA homes for a super fun kitty show at the Santa Monica Playhouse. 

My friend, Kat (no pun intended) kept saying,” I wonder if we’ll be going home with a new kitty? As it turns out, all the kitties in the show were rescues, orphans and/or strays—all trained to perform on command. There were even precious little baby kitties available for adoption.  It took all my strength and reserve, not to rush the stage and swoop up that sweet grey/white tuxedo kitten.

The first performer was a groundhog—who doesn’t love a ground hog? Well, maybe the ones that are cursing the last ground hog who indicated that there will be 6 more weeks of winter.  Can you say Polar Vortex, I bet you Chicagoans can!

Samantha Martin’s, Chicago-based, Acro-Cats is an educational and entertaining show for the whole family. However, it was mostly cat-loving adults, at our showing. Together, Samantha and her lovely assistant orchestrated the acrobatic animals with rhythm, grace and style. The star of the show is Tuna, a precocious shorthaired white kitty who also bowls. Yes, it was Tuna the Cat vs. Cluck Norris the Chicken.  And the winner is… I believe it was a tie.

The fun really began when the The Rock-Cats took the stage.  Consisting of 5 cats and a chicken. There was Oz on guitar, Nue on piano and synthesizer, Dakota who is our main drummer, Sookie on chimes, Tuna on cowbell, because everything needs “more cowbell” and Cluck Norris on cymbal and tambourine.

FEventReview-Acrocats-BlackCATor those marketers out there, you have to agree that their product placement was a key move to attract the kitty lovers to the table of kitty shwag—all reasonably priced and F-U-N!  My crew happily walked away with four amazing magnets/pins.  However, I cannot stop thinking about the kitty ears that I passed up.  Oh well, I’ll have to catch the next show when they return next.

Catch the Acro-Cats through April 20th at the SM Playhouse;  Show times are: Thursdays & Fridays at at 7:00 pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm, 4:00pm and 7:00pm.

General admission tickets are $25 and are available at www.circuscats.com.

What: Performance
Where: The Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, SM 90401-1391
When: Thursdays & Fridays at at 7:00 pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm, 4:00pm and 7:00pm - through April 20th!

Phone: 310-394-9779 ext 1
Website: http://santamonicaplayhouse.com/

Event Review: April 4th...Fundraiser for Internship Program for Low-Income Teens!

OnVeniceArts April 4th, Venice Arts hosted a benefit at the Del Monte Speakeasy at the Townhouse on Windward Ave in Venice.

The townhouse has a rich history....and it was an added feature to attend an event at this hidden speakeasy which which was a flutter back in prohibition days.

Venice Arts is a local non-profit community organization that runs education and mentoring programs in documentary photography, filmmaking and multimedia primarily targeting Los Angeles-area low income youth.

The benefit was to raise funds for Venice Arts' Internship Program for Low-Income Teens. Created by Ruthie Seroussi
 & Mike Newhouse, Colette Bailey, Jodi Gusek, it was good to see Venice locals who came out to support the cause.

On view at the event were works by students that were part of a silent auction.There was also a raffle with prizes such as gift certificates for Turning Point Pilates and wonderful local restaurants including Tony P's Dockside Grill, 26 Beach, Abbot's Pizza, and more.

TWhiskeyBaron-VeniceArtshe Bourbon Baron was on hand and we enjoyed several varieties of whiskeys and scotch.

One hundred percent of all the proceeds from the cover charge ($30 at the door) will go to support Venice Arts' Youth Art Intern Program, placing low-income teens in internships at local creative businesses.

As Always the food was wonderful and donated by many local businesses. For more information about Venice Arts, visti the Venice Arts website.

Circa's Two Day Run at the Broad Stage Makes A Big Impression!!!

Mar15-16-BroadStage-Circa-credit-Justin NicholasI had the opportunity to attend the opening of a two day show at Broad Stage. Circa was a great option for adults who enjoy the acrobatic part of a "circus" and a LOT less expensive than most. Fresh from a world tour, the ensemble was like a well oiled machine....beautiful acobatics with dance incorporated which helped create a mesmerizing show. I especially enjoyed the adult humor.

Circa's troupe is from Brisbane, Australia, and consists of of seven members trained in circus arts.  Circa runs a training center and workshop program at its professional studio in Brisbane.

Artistic director and CEO of Circa, Yaron Lifschitz took over in 2004 and has helped redefine the troupe.  While paying homage to the classic circus, he presents a new take on the art form and pushes the boundaries between circus theatrics and dance

Broad Stage's director, Dale Franzen wasn't kidding when she said...."Hundreds of cities around the world have risen to their feet in celebration of Circa and we are delighted to welcome them to Santa Monica. The blending of bodies, light, sound, and skills meld into a seamless whole that redefines the nature of circus."

Though young, most of the members have been performing for years, with resumes boasting stints at the National Institute of Circus Arts, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, and other companies around the world. Circa runs a training center with an impressive workshop program at its professional studio in Brisbane and partners with schools and affiliates throughout Australia. 

So keep your eye out for Circa...and be sure to catch them when they are back in LA. http://circa.org.au/

Mar15-16-BroadStage-Circa2About The Broad Stage
Under the leadership of Director Dale Franzen and Artistic Chair Dustin Hoffman, The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center opened its doors in October 2008. Inspired by Italian "horseshoe" theaters, yet conceived in an absolutely contemporary vernacular, The Broad Stage is an artist's dream and an audience's delight. Unlike any performance space in the country, it is sublimely intimate with 499-seats and strikingly grand at the same time–allowing eye contact with artists from the boxes to the back row–forging a new kind of artist and audience experience in Los Angeles. Theater shows, dance, film, operas, musicals, symphony and chamber orchestras are presented on one of the city's largest proscenium stages. In addition to The Broad Stage, The Edye Second Space, a smaller black box theater, presents new, developing and innovative work in theater, music and dance as part of the Under the Radar Series. Featuring younger, innovative artists and chamber pieces and plays, programming at The Edye is intentionally spontaneous, reflecting the dynamic nature of the space and allowing the latest, most exciting artists to be booked on short notice. The Broad Stage Arts Insights education and outreach program offers opportunities for cultural exposure through various student events, currently reaching 12,000 students and diverse community members annually through over 30 free and low-cost events. www.thebroadstage.com

Event Review: ZAY GEZUNT!

ZayGuzuntSandySimonaZAY GEZUNT! at Highways in Santa Monica, organized by Actor, director, producer, Sandy Simona, was touted as "an eclectic evening of New Work from Eastern European and Jewish visual and performance artists."

See image: of Sandy Simona in action

In the lobby, before the performance we enjoyed viewing paintings by Zhenya Gershman of her grandmother "Baba" that lovingly depicted the personally individual and archetypical nature of aging.

I and my daughter Anya enthusiastically anticipated a full evening that focused on, celebrated and enriched our own cultural heritage. As it were, we had to wait for the second half of the show for that experience.

The first half of the show featured comedian Jeffrey Scott doing standup shtick called "Fagala" riffing on his self-acknowledged gay Jewish identity with material he occasionally turned to the audience anticipating, if not encouraging, a groan.

"Combat the Wack" was a multimedia rap, chant, hip hop, new age performance piece featuring visuals by 8 Foot Bass Monster, set design by Upperhands, flower of life design by Mike Russeck, stage managed by Ben Webber, music by Dubvirus, DJedi, Lux Modern and Everyman and performers Lauren Michelle LiBrandi, Alyssa Aparicio, Sara VonGillern, Azmyth Kaminski, Madeline Grace Fauss, Sacha Csicsery-Ronay, and Evan Lewis Shafram. The high energy piece showed the performers own collaboration, through integrated movement, sound and words, and engaged the audience ourselves to participate in the power of collaboration in the face of chaos.

ZayGuzunt1After a brief intermission, the stage was reset for the amazingly powerful "Lost in Lvov" that showcased the deeply personal and emotionally evocative biographical storytelling performance by Sandy Simona. With historic black and white film projections as a backdrop and the Storytelling BAND, featuring Caitlyn Conlin on vocals, acting as a chorus, Ms. Simona's finely honed script and well-acted performance took us into a dream-like tale of the Belman sisters, who immigrated to America from the U.S.S.R. before Perestroika. Though I must admit to not being able to follow every subtle nuance of language, through her very sensitive characterizations of these relatives in accent, tone and gesture, and, at times herself speaking in present-day reflection, she wove together a tapestry of images and memories in what ended our evening with a heart-felt warmth and satisfaction.

For more info on Sandy Simona, see here website at http://www.sandysimona.com/

Photos by Sarah Louise Wilson  www.sarahlouisewilson.com

Pacific Resident Theatre's Production of "Pure Imagination" Featured in Santa Monica Mirror!

Read my article about Pacific Resident Theatre's production of "Pure Imagination" in the Santa Monica Mirror. Click HERE! The show rekindles the music of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Share my memories of performing these incredible songs.... Back in my twenties I was cast in the national touring company of "Stop the World, I Want to get Off" and had the oportunity to work with the Broadway legend in a revival of this celebrated musical.SM-Mirror-LogoPRT-Pix-article

LA Art Party Takes on Sundance Film Festival

As Sundance Film festival commenced its 10-day film extravaganza, LA Art Party ventured out to capture some of the most anticipated films and events of the New Year.

TheSundance1 music and film Mecca of Park City showcased some of the newest and brightest talent. Highlights from the festival included The Stella Artois Lounge that launched the opening festival by showcasing featured musicians, Capital Cities.

See photo of Capital Cities

The low-key, exclusive lounge hosted some of the newest and brightest filmmakers and talent. Capital Cities trumpet player, Spencer Ludwig, captivated audiences by taking the indie-pop band to the next level by infusing his jazz background with their classic upbeat tunes.

Sundance2Park City's vibrant art scene came to life at Old Town Gallery where national news outlets interviewed painters and art consultant, Ashley Sorenson about the live, interactive window installation. The interactive gallery allowed for Hollywood natives to explore Park City's art scene and connect with local artists in an inspired opening.

See photo -Live Installation - Ashley Sorenson

Matisyahu was the featured performer for the end of Stella Artois lounge's opening weekend.

SSundance3ee photo: Matisyahu

As event goers sipped on cider and snacked on Belgium waffles, the lounge continued to invite filmmakers to escape the below freezing climate and relax to Matisyahu's rock-rap fusion.

The premiere of the award nominated documentary, Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, proved to be an inspiring journey to understand the power of music. By giving ipods to Alzheimer's patients, the film guides viewers through the complications of cognitive decline and poses potential solutions to improve the livelihoods of an aging population.

Sundance4A Q&A with the filmmakers suggested the need for new programs that use music therapy to promote cognitive well-being. The Los Angeles based organization, Music Thinks (musicthinks.org) uses music therapy to promote efforts in cognitive and mental well-being and could be the innovative change needed to combat the incurable disease.

See photo: Alive Inside producers

Photos by Anya Baroff