LA Now and Then Review – History in a Tuneful Nutshell

Liz Grannis in LA NOW AND THEN - Photo by Doug Engalla
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 It’s about time! Time for a show celebrating the City of Angels, past and present. LA NOW AND THEN does just that in a musical revue with all-new songs about Los Angeles, some nostalgic, some bouncy, and all lots of fun. Directed by Bruce Kimmel with musical direction by Richard Allen (keyboardist extraordinaire), and orchestrations by Lanny Meyers, the show was first presented by guest performers and students at Los Angeles City College in 2016. LA NOW AND THEN has been a work in progress ever since. Created by talented local musicians and performers, each piece is unique and fresh. And what better time to share the result of this group effort with audiences? Just as the 2+ year pandemic may finally be making its longed-for exit? With over a dozen talented contributing collaborators and a cast of 15, The Group Rep proudly present LA NOW AND THEN in 2022.

Hisato Masuyama – Photo by Doug Engalla

The musical revue is a potpourri of ditties about all corners of the large and diverse piece of geography called LA. Whether the songs tap into bits of fascinating history like “The Helms Man,” “The Black Dahlia,” or “C.C. Brown’s” – or whether they remind audience of places that once were but are no longer like the Pan Pacific Auditorium – each of the songs is sure to spark old memories for many of the inveterate Angelinos sharing these tidbits. From Sunset Strip to NoHo, from Santa Monica to Lancaster, from Laurel Canyon to Walt Disney’s old stamping grounds – every corner of LA is special and filled with facets that can never be duplicated.  For LA NOW AND THEN is truly a valentine to LA, discos and all. To add to the excitement – and help fuel the memories – vintage photos are splashed across the stage at just the right moments.

Danika Masi – Photo by Doug Engalla

Keeping the beat going, a real live band plays onstage headed by musical director Richard Allen (keyboard), with Ken Zambello on bass, Ed Smith on drums, Matt Havesh on guitar, Brandon Wilkins on reeds, and Bob O’Donnell on trumpet. The skilled cast features song, dance, and some snappy dialogue by Bita Arefnia, Lottie Arnold, Lisa Dyson, Harrison Fahn, Liz Grannis, Linnea Ingesson, Haruna Kajino, Marcel Licera, Danika Masi, Hisato Masuyama, Alarize Nevarez, Alec Reusch, Jeffrey Rockwell, Margaret Staedler, and Tamir Yardenne. Producer/ director/writer Bruce Kimmel certainly earned his keep superintending this enthusiastic gang of eager actors. And let’s not forget about choreographer Cheryl Baxter. The clever twin set was designed by Tesshi Nakagawa and Pawena Sriha, with costumes by Michael Mullen, sound by Sammy Strittmatter, and graphic design by Doug Haverty.

Lisa Dyson – Photo by Doug Engalla

Kudos to all involved in this creative, informative, and captivating trip down memory lane through the avenues, alleyways, and mountaintops of Los Angeles. Whether you’re a native, a transplant, or a visitor, you’re sure to enjoy this exciting journey.

LA NOW AND THEN runs through May 8, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $40 (students and seniors $35; parties of 10+ $25). For information and reservations, call 818-763-5990 or go online. All current COVID guidelines are followed.


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