Ellen Dostal

Ellen Dostal In addition to being part of the west coast Broadway World team, Ellen also publishes two popular Southern California Theatre Blogs - Musicals in LA and Shakespeare in LA. An actress, singer and voiceover artist, she is also a producer with the Academy for New Musical Theatre, and works with the development of new musicals across the country.
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LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: EMPIRE THE MUSICAL Aims for the SkyBWW Review: EMPIRE THE MUSICAL Aims for the Sky
Posted: Jan. 27, 2016


Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016
Posted: Jan. 13, 2016


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Interviews: Emily Lopez Turns up the Heat for Revival of CARRIE THE MUSICALBWW Interviews: Emily Lopez Turns up the Heat for Revival of CARRIE
Posted: Feb. 27, 2015


BWW Reviews: Chance Theater's LOCH NESS, a new musical is Pure MagicBWW Reviews: LOCH NESS, a New Musical
Posted: Feb. 10, 2015


BWW Reviews: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Still Impressive After All These YearsBWW Reviews: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Still Impressive After All These Years
Posted: Jun. 23, 2015


BWW Review: EMPIRE THE MUSICAL Aims for the SkyBWW Review: EMPIRE THE MUSICAL Aims for the Sky
January 27, 2016

EMPIRE THE MUSICAL has been knocking around in the wings ever since Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull began writing it in 1999. Its first fully-staged production took place at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood in 2003 and it has had periodic readings through the years in both Los Angeles and New York. Now the story of how the Empire State Building came to be is enjoying a lavish pre-Broadway run at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, produced in partnership with McCoy Rigby Entertainment, Sue Vaccaro, Ricky Stevens and The Rivet Gang.
Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016
January 13, 2016

Happy New Year and welcome back Shakespeare lovers! 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death (April 23, 1564 - April 23, 1616) and that means it's another big year ahead honoring one of the greatest writers of all time. Here's a look at what's coming so get out your calendars and make note.
BWW Interview: LOUIS & KEELY Stars Discuss Bringing the Show Back to L.A.BWW Interview: LOUIS & KEELY Stars Discuss Bringing the Show Back to L.A.
January 4, 2016

LOUIS & KEELY 'LIVE' AT THE SAHARA returns to the Geffen Playhouse this month in a revamped production produced by the award-winning Hershey Felder. Written by Vanessa Claire Stewart, Taylor Hackford and Jake Broder and directed by Taylor Hackford, it is the story of Louis Prima and Keely Smith whose larger-than-life marriage and groundbreaking Las Vegas act featured an amazing cavalcade of hits that would forever secure their place in American musical history.
BWW Review: Run Away with Cirque du Soleil's KURIOS: Cabinet of CuriositiesBWW Review: Run Away with Cirque du Soleil's KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities
December 14, 2015

Who hasn't wanted to run away with the circus at some point in their lives? The ephemeral world created under the big top has always managed to entice with the glamour of its imaginary delights. Acrobats and elephants, beautiful people flying through the air, and the side show of unimaginable curiosities - they are all part of the ultimate escape from an otherwise ordinary world to a place where the extraordinary exists.
BWW Review: GUYS AND DOLLS, Reinvented and Rich with Life at The WallisBWW Review: GUYS AND DOLLS, Reinvented and Rich with Life at The Wallis
December 11, 2015

Luck has nothing to do with it. Mary Zimmerman's GUYS AND DOLLS is a well thought out, surprisingly fresh reinvention of one of the best golden age musicals ever written. The charming production just concluded a 9-month run at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and can now be seen on stage at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts through December 20. It is the second musical to make such a transition following last December's enchanting Into the Woods, also directed by Zimmerman. Let us hope the tradition will continue.
BWW Review: MIRAVEL Needs More Music, Less TalkBWW Review: MIRAVEL Needs More Music, Less Talk
November 17, 2015

It's a story that takes too long to tell but the jazz sizzles and Miravel definitely has potential. Billed as a jazz musical by Jake Broder, co-author of the hit musical Louis and Keely, Live at the Sahara, it really falls under the 'play with songs' category, currently more talk than music. Broder's compositions are expertly written, easily capturing the improvisational style of Monk and the sophistication of Ellington. They are, at the moment, one of the few places where passion authentically ignites in this spin on the Cyrano tale.
BWW Review: Shakespeare's History Plays Become a Zany STRANGE EVENTFUL HISTORYBWW Review: Shakespeare's History Plays Become a Zany STRANGE EVENTFUL HISTORY
November 2, 2015

One of the things Independent Shakespeare Co. does exceedingly well is communicate Shakespeare's text to audiences who may have little or no background with Shakespeare in a way that they can understand it. And since an audience member rarely comes back to see another production when they haven't had a good time (or been moved or changed in some way) the method of putting on a show becomes just as important as the desire to create something significant. This is where ISC excels. They know inherently how to make Shakespeare fun and relevant and engaging. Consequently, they have built a huge following that keeps coming back for more.
BWW Review: ANNIE, A Perfect Example of Optimism's Staying PowerBWW Review: ANNIE, A Perfect Example of Optimism's Staying Power
October 17, 2015

s I was waiting for my theatre guest to arrive at the Pantages Tuesday night for the opening of ANNIE, a school bus pulled up. Within seconds, a gaggle of little girls spilled out onto the sidewalk shrieking in anticipation and taking pictures of the sparkly marquee on their smart phones. They were only minutes away from seeing her - that spunky little red-haired orphan, Annie, and they could barely contain themselves.
First Look: DED! Inspired by Dia De Los MuertosFirst Look: DED! Inspired by Dia De Los Muertos
October 12, 2015

An original multimedia play inspired by the Mexican tradition of Dia De Los Muertos (Day of The Dead) is premiering at the Matrix Theatre on October 10. This unique theatrical experience will combine performing arts disciplines such as mime, clowning, live orchestral music, stunts, puppetry and video art.
BWW Review: MAN COVETS BIRD and Delivers Magic at 24th Street TheatreBWW Review: MAN COVETS BIRD and Delivers Magic at 24th Street Theatre
October 1, 2015

You can tell when a theatre company cares about its audience, especially when that audience is largely made up of young people. It doesn't talk down to them and it doesn't assume they will only understand the obvious. Instead, its directors take the time to seek out work that is worthy of engagement, provokes thought, and gives more to the world than it takes. It serves both the child and the child in the adult. And that's what 24th Street Theatre has done with MAN COVETS BIRD, the follow-up to their wildly successful award-winning production of WALKING THE TIGHTROPE.
BWW Review: Four Clowns Reinvents HAMLET in their Latest Shakespearean SoireeBWW Review: Four Clowns Reinvents HAMLET in their Latest Shakespearean Soiree
September 22, 2015

It's a little uncanny how easily Shakespeare's tragedy lends itself to reinvention by a troupe of clowns and still communicates the full measure of the poet's intent, yet that is exactly what happens in FOUR CLOWNS PRESENTS HAMLET, a guest production at The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. To director Turner Munch's credit, not only does he understand the funny of which there is plenty in this production he also knows how to play it off against its polar opposite to create palable dramatic tension. And he does it with surprising finesse.
BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT, More than just a Simple Tavern MusicalBWW Review: SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT, More than just a Simple Tavern Musical
September 15, 2015

This one act play with music was the surprise of my weekend. Not because of what I already knew about it, of course, based on press materials and previous word of mouth from friends who saw it at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, but because of something no one had thought to mention. That for all its rowdy comedy, bawdy innuendo and drunken delights, Michael Shaw Fisher has written, and performs, a piece that reveals Shakespeare's heart in moments of genuine vulnerability making it more than simply a passing fringe fancy. This one man 75-minute Elizabethan tavern musical could easily tour the country in every intimate venue, educational setting, pub or cabaret house smart enough to book it.
BWW Interview: From Green to Groovy, Nicole Parker Gets a '60s Makeover for THESE PAPER BULLETS!BWW Interview: From Green to Groovy, Nicole Parker Gets a '60s Makeover for THESE PAPER BULLETS!
September 10, 2015

Nicole Parker stars opposite Justin Kirk in the west coast premiere of THESE PAPER BULLETS! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at Geffen Playhouse this month. Written by Rolin Jones (Weeds, Friday Night Lights, Boardwalk Empire) with songs by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and directed by Jackson Gay, the show opened to great reviews at Yale Repertory Theatre where it premiered in 2014. Now the Geffen begins its 20th anniversary season with what promises to be a British invasion on stage not seen since the Beatles. Still high on the adrenaline of a full day of rehearsal, an energetic Parker spoke to me about her experience working on the new production. I think you'll see why the former star of Wicked and MADtv landed the role. This is one all-around great gal
BWW Reviews: ISC's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a 1940s CharmerBWW Reviews: ISC's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a 1940s Charmer
August 12, 2015

One of the keys to providing great entertainment is understanding your audience. For a theatre company that means knowing what your audience wants and then being able to provide it so they keep coming back for more. Independent Shakespeare Co. has done a brilliant job of both. Not only do they play to crowds that number in the thousands each night during their Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, but they always find a way to connect with the audience and make them feel included.
BWW Reviews: SAMMANFLATA, BIT, and CIRCLE JERK Debut at REDCATBWW Reviews: SAMMANFLATA, BIT, and CIRCLE JERK Debut at REDCAT
August 9, 2015

REDCAT debuted an eclectic program of new works this week during its 12th Annual New Original Works Festival - two dance/movement-based pieces and a third that fused theatre and live music to create an absurdist performance art piece based on early twentieth century Surrealism.
BWW Reviews: A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN is a Night to RememberBWW Reviews: A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN is a Night to Remember
July 31, 2015

Baby boomers don't normally show their approval at the theater by leaping to their feet and giving standing ovations during a performance unless they happen to be seeing A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN at Pasadena Playhouse. The power of remembrance combined with the powerhouse performances of Mary Bridget Davies (as Janis Joplin) and her crew - four dynamic supporting female vocalists and an eight piece kickass rock band - prove that the Queen of Rock 'n Roll can still conjure up a revolution in the hearts of her fans and get them on their feet in spite of themselves.
BWW Preview: Bryce Dallas Howard Joins Gustavo Dudamel for A Midsummer Night's Dream at the BowlBWW Preview: Bryce Dallas Howard Joins Gustavo Dudamel for A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Bowl
July 23, 2015

On Tuesday July 28, LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel ventures into Shakespeare's forest of mistaken identities and fairy mischief for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM WITH DUDAMEL at the Hollywood Bowl. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard will narrate, bringing Shakespeare's words to life in a magical evening featuring soloists soprano Deanna Breiwick and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Holloway, and the women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
BWW Interviews: Ryan J-W Smith and his Fringe Favorite, LOVE LABOURS WONBWW Interviews: Ryan J-W Smith and his Fringe Favorite, LOVE LABOURS WON
July 22, 2015

Shakespeare was a clear favorite this year at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Among the award-winning productions was Ryan J. Smith's LOVE LABOURS WON, which received two fringe awards: The International Award and an Encore Producers' Award. Back by popular demand, the show has extended through August 6th and will play Thursday nights at 8pm in the Dorie Theatre. Is it a sequel to Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost like the title might imply? I asked Ryan to tell us about the play, which sounds delightful.
BWW Reviews: Shakespeare Orange County Offers a Multicultural ROMEO & JULIETBWW Reviews: Shakespeare Orange County Offers a Multicultural ROMEO & JULIET
July 20, 2015

As an attempt to increase its cultural relevance, involve the community, and expand its audience base, Shakespeare Orange County's ROMEO & JULIET is an admirable venture. Directors Mike Peebler and John Walcutt have integrated several hometown groups to appeal to its neighboring communities: the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, the 40-year-old folklorico group Relampago del Cielo from Santa Ana, the Korean Social Club of Orange County, and students from the Orange County School of the Arts.
BWW Reviews: 3-D Theatricals' TARZAN THE MUSICAL is a Swinging SuccessBWW Reviews: 3-D Theatricals' TARZAN THE MUSICAL is a Swinging Success
July 15, 2015

TARZAN THE MUSICALis the latest winner in a string of ambitious musicals by the Dawson producing team at 3-D Theatricals (Gretchen, Daniel, Jeannette and T.J.). Perhaps it isn't surprising that a family run company would know the kind of heart it takes to bring to life a Disney adventure musical about the power of family and finding one's place in the world. In any case, TARZAN is one big show that succeeds beautifully under their care.


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