Disneyland’s Merry Holiday Celebration Continues through January 8, 2012

City Life Communications News

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 4, 2012) – The holiday season at Disneyland Resort is still going on daily through Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012.
* For the first time, the Holiday season at Disneyland Resort will be extended to celebrate Three Kings Day, known as Día de Reyes. From Jan. 6-8, 2012, look for special décor and entertainment in Frontierland that showcases western and Mexican heritage, along with food themed to this holiday and children’s activities.* The first Disneyland holiday celebration was in 1955, when Walt Disney placed a Christmas tree in the Hub at the north end of Main Street, U.S.A., near Sleeping Beauty Castle. For many years now, the tree has been located in Town Square near the Main Street Disneyland Railroad Station.
* Beginning Friday, Nov. 18, “The Magic, The Memories, and You!” show gets a new, Yuletide glow. The show features photos and video of guests creating memories at Disneyland park, with favorite holiday melodies underscoring images of guests enjoying their holidays at Disneyland.
* The lively street show “Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party” gets a merry twist at Disney California Adventure park, with holiday décor and songs. The show is performed several times a day in Paradise Pier.
* Lanny and Wayne, the techno-savvy elves from the “Prep & Landing” holiday TV specials, make guest appearances in a new holiday prelude sequence in the nighttime “World of Color” show in Disney California Adventure.
* Decorating experts at the Disneyland Resort have to get started early. They trim nearly 700 trees for the season, on display in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, the resort’s three hotels and the Downtown Disney District. The smallest tree is at Storybook Land and the largest is at Town Square – both in Disneyland.
* The Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square has become a favorite spot for snapping holiday photos. The artificial tree stands 60 feet tall and has 280,000 pine-tip branches molded from actual tree branches. It is decorated with more than 2,000 ornaments, including the three-foot star on top, and nearly 4,800 energy-efficient LED lights. When the Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle show reaches its finale crescendo, more than 60,000 LED lights and 1,200 strobe lights are added to the effect.
* Mickey’s Toontown is decorated with its own distinctive “toon” trees this 2011 holiday season. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse each have personal Christmas trees in the front yards of their Toontown homes, and a cartoon-themed tree beckons guests for photos in front of Toontown City Hall.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
* Since the introduction of the artificial Christmas tree and LED lighting technology in 2008, the Disneyland park Christmas tree has used 50 percent less electricity than it did previously.
* Carolers in traditional Victorian holiday garb make regular appearances throughout the season at each of the three Disneyland Resort hotels: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.
* The Dapper Dans, the popular Main Street, U.S.A., quartet, add holiday songs to their repertoire, with holiday chimes as accompaniment. Favorites range from the traditional “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Christmas in Killarney.
* The nighttime Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle light show is divided into three “acts” over the course of the evening. Each one begins at the Castle and travels the length of Main Street, U.S.A., finishing at the Town Square Christmas tree. Each act features a magical snowfall, and the final act concludes with “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks.
* The nighttime light show employs more than 200,000 points of light, 2,600 individual circuits and more than 85,000 individual wiring connections.
* If all the cables and conductors for the show were laid end to end, they would stretch 48 miles from Disneyland Resort – enough to pass the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.
* The entrance to Disney California Adventure and locations throughout the park are festooned with holiday decoration. New this year are the decorations around the newly renovated Paradise Pier area, with The Little Mermaid ~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and the nearby dining locations.
* The largest ornaments used at Disneyland Resort may be found in the “bugs-eye-view” world of Flik’s Fun Fair at Disney California Adventure.
* The smallest ornaments used at the Resort may be found in the Storybook Land attraction at Disneyland.“A Christmas Fantasy” parade* Each performance of “A Christmas Fantasy” features 105 performers, 18 float drivers and 12 musicians costumed as toy soldiers from the Disney movie “Babes in Toyland.” With daily parade performances, it takes approximately 200 performers to stage the parade during the holiday season.
* The parade features six major “units,” each consisting of multiple floats. The units are: ”A Christmas Fantasy Opening” featuring Mrs. Claus sorting letters in Santa’s Mailroom; “Winter Wonderland” with Mickey and Minnie enjoying a romantic skate atop the frozen pond; “The Candy Shop” with Goofy leading the bakers from the Gingerbread House; “Candlelight Christmas Ball” featuring everyone’s favorite Disney Royal Couples; “Toy Factory,” the perfect spot for Buzz and Woody; and the “Finale,” where Santa himself waves from his sleigh.

it’s a small world” Holiday

* A new, 14-foot snowman made of crystal snowflakes is lit with thousands of lights in the finale of “it’s a small world” Holiday. This is the first addition to this holiday celebration since the attraction debuted in 1997. The snowman stands atop a 10-food-wide snowflake and holds a beautiful “icicle” sign that that spells out “Happy Holidays” in colors that change as guests float by.
* Decorators use 50,000 Christmas lights on the façade of “it’s a small world” Holiday, and an additional 200,000 mini-lights in the trees, hedges and topiaries surrounding the attraction.
* Among the holiday special effects inside the attraction: pine tree and peppermint scents in the European scenes; 75 gallons of bubble juice to make bubbles throughout the season in the South Seas scene.

Haunted Mansion Holiday

* Jack Skellington has his own ideas about appropriate holiday decorations. The Haunted Mansion Holiday exterior is decorated with more than 100 jack-o’-lanterns and the eerie glow of more than 400 flickering candles.
* For the holidays, the graveyard in the Haunted Mansion finale is covered with 7,500 square feet of snow. Trees in the graveyard are decked out with 1,000 tiny orange lights.
* The gingerbread house in the Mansion’s Great Hall is made of real gingerbread and icing. Each year, the Disneyland Resort Foods and Entertainment divisions partner to create an original design for that year’s Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house.
* This 2011 gingerbread house stands six feet tall, consisting of 500 pounds of gingerbread and miles of frosting. The house animates to become a gingerbread monster, revealing glowing eyes and sharp teeth. This year’s Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house took months of planning and three weeks of creation in the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery.
* Guests may book guided Disneyland holiday tours which include visits to Haunted Mansion Holiday and “it’s a small world” Holiday attractions, reserved viewing of “A Christmas Fantasy” parade with a delicious holiday treat and warm beverage, plus a 2011 holiday pin and tour tag. (Information and reservations: 714-781-TOUR/714-781-8687.)

Halloween Time has come to Disneyland

City Life News
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The spirit of Halloween Time has come to Disneyland Resort this fall with Disney villains, Mickey Mouse and his friends in Halloween costumes, along with the seasonal transformations of Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort is now open and will continue through Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic (Disneyland Resort)

The after-hours Mickey’s Halloween Party, a separate-ticket event* which has become an annual highlight of Halloween Time for trick-or-treating families, will take place in Disneyland park on 10 special Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights: Sept. 30 and Oct. 3,7,11,14,18,21, 25, 28 and 31. Tickets are available at Disneyland.com/halloween.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic (Disneyland Resort)

Mickey’s Halloween Party invites adults and children to dress up in costume and trick-or-treat at the resort. These party participants can also “mix in” with regular Disneyland guests for three hours prior to the start of Mickey’s private bash. Highlights of Mickey’s Halloween Party include:

* Newly themed dance party: Guests can mix, mingle and dance with some of their favorite Disney characters at the new “Piratepalooza” at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. The popular “Buzz Lightyear’s Intergalactic Space Jam” returns to the Tomorrowland Terrace for more dancing fun.
* New character photo locations: Guests will meet Stormtroopers at Tomorrowland, Phineas & Ferb at Plaza Gardens Stage, and Duffy the Bear in his pumpkin attire at Town Square, Main Street, U.S.A. Eight additional photo locations feature princesses, Disney villains and more Disney and Pixar pals.
* The special opportunity to play in Disneyland for three hours before the party starts
* Trick or Treating – candy and healthy treats ­- in the ultimate Disney neighborhood
* The “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies” Jack Skellington (presented exclusively for guests of Mickey’s Halloween Party)
* “Mickey’s Costume Party” cavalcade, performed twice nightly
* An opportunity for everyone in the family to attend the park in costumes
* Nearly all the favorite Disneyland rides and attractions

Tickets purchased in advance for Mickey’s Halloween Party are $49 most days, while tickets purchased on the event days are $59. All tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party on Friday, Oct. 28, and Halloween Night, Monday, Oct. 31, are $64.
(Disneyland Resort)
Favorite Disney characters, including Mickey himself, will dress up in fun, fall costumes. It’s the ideal environment to eat special holiday treats, play interactive games, listen to “spirited” music and watch a nightly character cavalcade that celebrates the season.

For Halloween fun at Disneyland, guests will enjoy Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy in Tomorrowland. The experience begins as a typical Space Mountain adventure, but suddenly launches voyagers into a haunted section of the universe. Ghosts appear out of the starry darkness and swirling galaxies of Space Mountain, reaching out as if to grab guests as they speed through space. The exhilarating drops and curves of the journey are punctuated by piercing screams, creepy sound effects and haunting music.

Jack Skellington also returns to take over the Haunted Mansion and bring back Haunted Mansion Holiday to New Orleans Square in Disneyland. Transformed to a mix of Halloween spookiness and Christmas tradition, Haunted Mansion Holiday is inspired by the classic animated film “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.” Jack’s return to the Haunted Mansion includes the traditional Halloween/Christmas gingerbread house in the Mansion Ballroom, with some special spooky surprises in this year’s design.

Halloween Time offers frightfully delightful fun for children and adults.

* For spine-tingling fun, drop in at The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure park, where a “supernatural” event happened on Halloween evening, 1939, forever haunting the building.
* Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland is transformed for the Pumpkin Festival. More than 300 pumpkins will be on display and none of them are the same!
* Visitors to Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland will find ranch animals, pumpkin carvers, Halloween décor and activities for youngsters.
* Meeting Disney characters will be easier than ever as Disney villains gather to plot Halloween mischief at “it’s a small world” Mall in Disneyland, while other characters in spooky attire greet guests in Town Square, Main Street, U.S.A.
* Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland will honor Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead with traditional skeleton figures on display Sept. 16 through Nov. 2.
* Special Halloween treats will be available in Disneyland, including menu items such as Zero’s Ghostly Ghoulash, served in a dog dish in honor of Zero.

For more information about Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort, see www.disneyland.com/halloween. This site will be updated with frightfully fun details.

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights Now Playing

City Life News

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.- Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights opened today with more mazes than ever – and an all-new Terror Tram: Scream 4 Your Life.

This year’s six horror mazes include the return of “Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses: In 3D ZombieVision.” Rocker Alice Cooper joins the fun with “Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare.”

Director Eli Roth put together “Eli Roth’s Hostel: Hunting Season,” which features items from Roth’s personal collection of original “Hostel” movie props.

“La Llorona: Villa De Almas Perdidas” (“The Weeping Woman: Village of Lost Souls”) is from actor and director Diego Luna, who re-imagines the legend of melancholy and murder that he was told as a child. The other mazes are “The Thing: Assimilation” and “The Wolfman: The Curse of Talbot Hall.’

The new backlot experience, “Terror Tram: Scream 4 Your Life,” is based on the latest installment of Wes Craven’s “Scream” film series. “Scare Zones” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” add to the nightmare theme.

“Halloween Horror Nights” are Sept. 23 and 24 plus Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 20-23 and 27-31. Tickets can be purchased at UniversalStudiosHollywood.com/hhn. Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” are available at www.halloweenhorrornights.com/ and also on Twitter and Facebook. Tickets now on sale!

Wicked returns to the Pantages Nov. 30 – Jan. 29, 2011

By Margie Anne Clark
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – WICKED, the colorful Broadway hit musical, is back by “Popular” demand. The dazzling musical will take to the stage of the Pantages Theatre, just in time for the holiday season, beginning Nov. 30 and running through Jan. 29, 2012.

After a record-breaking two-year run and called “a phenomenon that keeps growing” by The Los Angeles Times and “the defining musical of the decade” by The New York Times, WICKED’s story of two girls who meet in the land of Oz comes to life in a musical burst of energy and fun for the whole family. One girl – born with emerald green skin – is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and glowingly popular.

Audiences will enjoy discovering a whole new side to the Wicked Witch of the West and Glenda the Good Witch of the North.

Don’t be green with envy, by your tickets now! Tickets may be purchased by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787) or by visiting the Broadway LA website at: http://www.broadwayla.org/production/show.info.asp?ID=1
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Photo by Joan Marcus

Final Preparations for Grand Opening Celebration of Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii

Disney Resort on the Islands

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
KO OLINA Hawaii – Bob Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company (right) and Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, are joined by Mickey Mouse on Sept. 21 as final preparations are made for the grand opening celebration of Aulani, a new Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii.With its fun recreation features and restaurants, comfortable rooms, and its combination of Disney magic with Hawaiian beauty, tradition and relaxation, Aulani offers a new way for families to vacation together on the island of Oahu. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Destinations)

Gov. Jerry Brown Meets with Educators and Students at Hart High School in Santa Clarita

By  Margie Anne Clark

Newhall, Calif. – Governor Jerry Brown visited Santa Clarita on April 21 Brown met with educators and law enforcement officials from the Los Angeles area to discuss how the budget crisis is affecting schools and public safety. Attendance at the meeting was by invitation only.Gov. Jerry Brown, California State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Sheriff Lee Baca, photo by Margie Anne Clark
Photo by Margie Anne Clark -  Gov. Jerry Brown with Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and Sheriff Lee Bacca.
Brown was accompanied by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who was the first Republican legislator to join Brown as he toured the state to talk to the public about extending certain taxes to avert further budget cuts.

Gov. Brown fielded questions from educators and political attendees alike. Taking a walking tour of the school, Brown visited students in the classrooms, fielding questions and touching on his role as Governor.

B U R N T H E F L O O R BORN IN A MOMENT OF INSPIRATION AT ELTON JOHN BIRTHDAY BASH, BROADWAY’S DANCE HIT HAS BEEN AN AMAZING RIDE FOR PRODUCER HARLEY MEDCALF – April 4, 2011

City News

Hollywood, California – On the night of Tuesday, April 26th, the international ballroom stage show sensation, ‘Burn the Floor,’ will arrive at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, celebrated by a star-studded red carpet gathering.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic Photos by Joan Marcus

Perhaps that’s just a logical extension of a current passionate love affair between Ballroom and Hollywood, as witnessed by ABC Television’s ratings juggernaut Dancing With The Stars.

But the true birthplace of BURN THE FLOOR took place nearly 15 years ago.

When Harley Medcalf attended Elton John’s 50th birthday party at London’s Hammersmith Palais Ballroom in 1997, the last thing he expected to find was an exhilarating new theatrical project. But when 16 young ballroom dancers hit the floor for a special performance, he found himself captivated. “Moses could have come into the room and he wouldn’t have been able to part the 600-plus crowd,” Medcalf says. “But these dancers had the audience transfixed. Their charisma was electrifying.”

That’s when Medcalf, producer of the direct-from-Broadway ballroom dance show BURN THE FLOOR, first got the idea for the project that would become the first touring theatrical ballroom dance show in history. BURN THE FLOOR labels itself as “ballroom reinvented.” As Medcalf puts it, “It’s like ballroom dancing super charged. It’s the incredible art form of ballroom dance combined with rock and roll.”

Medcalf’s first production of BURN THE FLOOR started rehearsals in 1999, and as the show changed and evolved, it went on to give performances in over 30 countries and 160 cities before coming to Broadway. The trip to Broadway was a long 11-year journey, but Medcalf attributes his unwavering commitment to the project to his dancers. “The real inspiration for me comes from the dancers themselves,” says Medcalf. “They possess these incredible qualities, qualities found in competition ballroom dance. It’s their passion, their commitment, work ethic and raw energy, and their total dedication to the art of dance. These performers are on stage 800 hours a year performing 400 shows in 50 weeks. And no matter how difficult the schedule, their intensity never diminishes.”

In July of 2009, BURN THE FLOOR’s Broadway dreams were realized. In thinking back to what that opening night on Broadway was like for him, Medcalf says, “The buzz and the energy from the audience was overpowering. I could not stop the tears all night, it was so emotionally overpowering. To actually get there and make it happen was extraordinary.” The Broadway run of BURN THE FLOOR was scheduled to be a 12-week limited engagement, but, due to demand, the show extended its run and eventually closed in January of 2010.

Of course, the show’s success and appeal on Broadway and on tour is reinforced by the recent surge in the popularity of ballroom dance generated in part by powerhouse reality television series like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.

Medcalf says, “When we started the show, ballroom was out of fashion. Everyone said I was insane for producing the show, and I probably was, probably still am. But in 2005, television discovered ballroom dance. The groundswell that television has created for us has created a bigger and bigger wave that we can ride. It’s interesting, if you’d asked someone in 2005, ‘What’s a Paso Doble?’ they’d say ‘I don’t eat Spanish pizza,’ and now everyone’s an expert on the Paso Doble because they watched it on Dancing With the Stars the night before.”

BURN THE FLOOR has also featured many of the professional dancers who have become household names from their appearances on Dancing With The Stars or So You Think You Can Dance. Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev, finalists on Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance, have been the most recent dance stars to tour with BURN THE FLOOR, and they will be featured in the upcoming Pantages Theatre engagement.

With the company now touring the U.S., Medcalf says the dancers have “kicked the show up a gear” since Broadway. “The company is really committed to live the show every night and constantly work to make it better. They’ve grown up a lot and matured from the Broadway experience. They’ve gotten great confidence from that,” he says. But, Medcalf adds, the popularity of the show on Broadway and now on its national tour is really all about the massive energy boost the audience gets from the performance, “The energy is what draws you in and fulfills you from seeing the show. The performers give 120% every night. It’s inspiring. And they make the technical skill of dancing seem so easy and accessible. We have the energy of five Broadway shows.”

When Medcalf looks back on his 14-year-and-counting journey with BURN THE FLOOR, he attributes the joy of his experience and the ultimate success of the show to his dancers who possess the same verve and passion that he witnessed back at that birthday party in London. “It comes back to the commitment of the dancers every night on stage. They go out and have a great time and make sure the audience has a great time as well. And you can see the audience smiling away and taping their feet, and they’re taking something away in the heart. At the end of the day, if we didn’t deliver the highest quality show and take up the challenge to make it better every night, we simply would not have lasted 14 years.”

The electrifying Latin and ballroom dance spectacular BURN THE FLOOR will play the Pantages Theatre for a strictly-limited 2 week engagement, April 26 – May 8, 2011. This Los Angeles engagement will feature So You Think You Can Dance alumni Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Robbie Kmetoni, Janette Manrara, and Karen Hauer. Also featured is Vonzell Solomon, second runner-up in Season Four of American Idol, who is BURN THE FLOOR’s female vocalist. BURN THE FLOOR has thrilled audiences in more than 30 countries with the fire and passion of live ballroom – years before Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance turned the artform into “must-see TV.” Featuring 20 champion dancers in an energetic theatrical experience, BURN THE FLOOR has received raves from critics worldwide, including The New York Times which called the show “Dazzling!” and The Times (London), which called it “the summer’s hottest ticket!”

Tickets for BURN THE FLOOR are priced from $25 and are available at www.BroadwayLA.org, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Blvd., open daily at 10am).

THE PANTAGES THEATRE CELEBRATES THE LOS ANGELES RETURN OF RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES WITH THEMED CONTEST VIA THE THEATRE’S OFFICIAL TWITTER FEED, @PANTAGES

Hollywood, Calif. – From March 28-April 1, @Pantages – the official Twitter account of Broadway/L.A. and the Pantages Theatre – will give followers the opportunity to win a midweek Hollywood getaway for two – including tickets to the April 12th opening night of RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES, plus overnight accommodations at Hollywood’s The Redbury Hotel, located just around the iconic corner of Hollywood & Vine.

 

The contest – dubbed AlphaBEATicLES – will take participants on an alphabetical walk through classic Beatles songs,
challenging them to be first to accurately identify a passage of lyrics based only on a string of initials.
A sample clue might appear as follows: CYEAIKYTIMYRIABT #RAIN #alphaBEATicLES #A The final hashtag “#A”
identifies the clue as being from a Beatles song beginning with the letter “A,” and the first string of letters represent initials
of a well-known lyric – in this case, from the A-titled song All My Loving: “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you,Tomorrow I’ll
miss you,Remember I’ll always be true.”

A total of 19 challenges will be issued during the contest, and the 19 winners will be entered into a grand prize drawing –
st
and on Friday, April 1 at 5pm, @Pantages will announce (in 140 characters or less) the winner of the two opening night
tickets, plus a one night stay for two in a Vine flat at The Redbury, the latest addition to the award-winning sbe Hotel
Collection. To participate, follow the Pantages Theatre on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Pantages.

Curated by visionary Creative Director and renowned photographer Matthew Rolston, in collaboration with sbe Founder
and CEO Sam Nazarian, The Redbury offers spacious guest flats with uncompromising amenities and services. With its
unpretentious and engaging hospitality experience, The Redbury appeals to a community that is passionately connected
to the arts, music, fashion and entertainment.

RAIN, the internationally-acclaimed Beatles concert, returns by popular demand to Hollywood’s historic Pantages
Theatre, where they enjoyed astounding success during their special one week engagement in 2009. RAIN will play the
Pantages for eight performances only, April 12-17, 2011. Ticket prices start at just $25. For more information about RAIN
– A Tribute to the Beatles’ Los Angeles engagement, as well as for complete contest rules, please visit the Pantages
Theatre’s official website, www.BroadwayLA.org.

Photos by Joan Marcus

SCV Youth Project Gears up for its 3rd Annual Sweet Charity Auction

By Margie Anne Clark

Santa Clarita, Calif. The Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project is getting more exciting every year and it’s not too late to join in the fun.

Providence Medical Center is Proud to Present The Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project’s 3rd Annual Sweet Charity Cake Auction & Competition, judging panel coming up on on April 9, 2011 at the Tournament Players Club in Valencia.
A 2010 entry for the SCV Youth Project’s Sweet Charity fundraising event. This year April 9, 2001 event is expected to draw even more creative entries. Photo by Margie Anne Clark

Judges include: Jim Moret, chief correspondent for Inside Edition, Chef David Lawrence, the host and Creative Food Director of the hit web cooking series Good Bite, and Cindy Schwanke, culinary instructor at College of the Canyons.

Also joining in the fun will be the famous Porto’s Bakery & Café, siblings Margarita and Raul Jr. Porto

“It should be a great night. We have great new sponsorships and we continuing to see such excitement amongst the community members!” said Kim Goldman, Executive Director for the SCV Youth Project. “Having Jim, Chef David and of course Cindy, is going to add some spice to the night, it will surely make for a memorable evening.”

For more information call 661.257.YOUTH (9688) or visit the SCV Youth Project website at:
www.HelpNotHassle.org.

‘Avenue Q’ Muppet parody opens at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre –

By Margie Anne Clark

Hollywood, Calif., – Taking its cue from the groundbreaking years of public television’s Muppet lore, Broadway’s Tony Award winning musical ‘Avenue Q’ is sweeping the clouds of political correctness away during its whirlwind stop at the Pantages Theater. The show opened tonight and runs through Sunday in a special limited engagement.Image and video hosting by TinyPicDavid Colston Corris, Ashley Eileen Bucknam, Michael Liscio Jr. (Top-Bottom) Actors Michael Liscio, Jr., David Colston Corris and Ashley Eileen Bucknam pose at the opening night of “Avenue Q” at the Pantages Theatre on March 1, 2011 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images North America) _________________________________________________________________________

Reflecting on the early days of ‘Sesame Street’ which starred the likes of Bert and Ernie, Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster, ‘Avenue Q’ cast member Ashley Eileen Bucknam who stars in two roles as “Kate Monster” and “Lucy the Slut,” told City Life that audiences are sure to enjoy the show’s unique and risqué format.

“You have to come into the show with an open mind, and by the end of the show you end up really feeling for these puppets,” said Bucknam who was born and raised in South Jersey where passion for the arts took flight at the age of two while growing up along the beaches of the Jersey Shore.

“There are many similarities to the original characters of Sesame Street but there is a lot more to it than a-b-c and one two three. You get involved in their lives and every character is someone you can relate to and have fun with.”

While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, ‘Avenue Q’ has not been authorized or approved in any manner by The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.

In a departure from Sesame Street, the puppeteers of ‘Avenue Q’ take to the stage more in the tradition of a ventriloquist than a muppeteer.

Bucknam and her fellow cast members are fully seen on stage as they provide the voices for their colorful furry, Styrofoam-eyed characters with their lips moving in full sight.

“All of the actors wear black, but as the show progresses they are watching the puppets – it’s like watching the subtitles in a movie,” explains Bucknam of the challenge audience members may have of suspending belief with the actor’s faces and moving lips in full view. “Eventually you get used to it end up watching the puppets.”

As the play opens, ‘Avenue Q’ introduces audiences to a young man named Princeton, a bright eyed, college grad who moves to NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account. The only apartment he can afford is way out on Avenue Q, where everyone is looking for the same thing he is: a decent job, a stable relationship, and a “purpose.”

“Every show is different because the characters evolve over the course of the tour,” Bucknam said of the show that has been seen in more than 96 cities in the United States and Canada.

Bucknam stars opposite David Colston Corris Princeton, Rod), Michael Liscio, Jr. (Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Bear & Others), Lisa Helmi Johanson (Christmas Eve), Tim Kornblum (Brian), Anita Welch (Gary Coleman) and Kerri Brackin (Mrs. T, Bear & Others). Rounding out the company are ensemble members Ben Hart, Kate Lippstreu, Katie McCreary, and Zach Trimmer. Avenue Q features music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, a book by Jeff Whitty, based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx; and is directed by Jason Moore. Puppet design is by Rick Lyon, with orchestrations by Stephen Oremus, choreography by Ken Roberson, scenic design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Mirena Rada, lighting design by Howell Binkley, and sound design by Lew Mead. Associate director is Evan Ensign and music supervisor is Andrew Graham.

“We’re thrilled and excited to be performing right in the heart of L.A.,” said Bucknam in between performances during her San Francisco stop prior to making her way down to the streets of Hollywood’s storied Tinseltown.

“Everything in life is for now only,” the classically trained actress added borrowing a line from the last song of the show when the characters come to the realization that growing up isn’t so bad at all.

“I hope that LA will love it as much as we do – and you never know what will happen next!”

Tickets to ‘Avenue Q’ may be purchased by visiting www.broadwayla.org or by call 800-982-ARTS (2787). Parental warning, Due to adult situations (like full-puppet nudity), ‘Avenue Q’ may be inappropriate for kids under 13. (Everyone must have a ticket; children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre).

City Life Communications – L. A. Life and Style Entertainment Magazine