Cary Ginell has been writing theater reviews in Ventura County since 1996. He joined the staff of the Ventura County Acorn in 2007 and since then, has written over 500 reviews. In 2013, he started his own theater arts blog, VC On Stage (www.vconstage.com), which includes reviews of musicals and plays from Calabasas to Ojai. From 2005 to 2010, Cary was Broadway project manager for Alfred Publishing, producing all of the publisher's piano/vocal songbooks. He is the author of 9 books on music, including "Broadway Musicals: Show By Show," published by Applause Books.
Choreographer Becky Castells talks with VC On Stage about working with children and eleven-year-old dance whiz Marcello Silva in the Actors' Repertory Theatre of Simi's production of 'Billy Elliot The Musical'PETER PAN at Cabrillo Music Theatre July 15, 2017
Any time a high school theater department takes on a Stephen Sondheim musical, the intensity level cranks up a notch. So when drama teacher Joseph Donia took on Into the Woods, which the school last did in 2008, he needed some extra expertise behind the scenes to deal with Sondheim's uniquely difficult vocal score. Enter Kayla Bailey, a graduate of Oaks Christian High School (2007), Cal Lutheran University (2011), and a former Miss Ventura County (2012), who has been seen locally mainly as a performer. Donia chose Bailey to be his vocal director despite Bailey never having served in that capacity before. But when, as the saying goes, opportunity knocks, you go for it, and Bailey, who has a uniquely positive spin on life, leaped in feet first and has been having the time of her life. We spoke with Kayla in between performances about this unique experience, one which has already had a major effect on her career outlook going forward.BWW Review: STATE FAIR at Alex Theatre May 9, 2017
The corn was high as an elephant's eye at the Alex Theatre in Glendale last Sunday as Musical Theater Guild presented a staged reading of Rodgers and Hammerstein's bucolic musical State Fair, the only musical R&H wrote specifically for the screen. State Fair wasn't adapted for the stage until 1996, the final show produced by David Merrick, Broadway's notorious 'abominable showman.'BWW Review: SYLVIA at Rubicon Theatre Company May 5, 2017
Tonight, we are excited in welcoming Playhouse 101, a new multi-use theater which makes its debut in Agoura Hills. Located in an office building complex at 28720 Canwood St., Playhouse 101 is managed by Jeff Wallach, artistic director for Curtain Call Youth Theatre. Jeff has ambitious plans for his new venue, including renting it out for rehearsals and concerts in addition to conventional theatrical plays and musicals. We visited the theater yesterday, where Jeff proudly showed us around. Its first production, the popular baseball comedy Bleacher Bums, bats leadoff in the Playhouse 101 season.BWW Interview: Aileen-Marie Scott of DOGFIGHT at Camarillo Skyway Playhouse March 30, 2017
It's been 80 years since Bessie Smith, the celebrated Empress of the Blues, died a lonely death, after an auto accident on a desolate Mississippi road. Contrary to legend, Smith did not bleed to death after being refused admission to a white Southern hospital. That story was related to Down Beat magazine by Columbia Records impresario John Hammond, who later apologized, saying that it was all based on hearsay. But her injuries were severe enough so that when she was taken to the nearest hospital (which happened to be one that accepted blacks), that she was beyond saving, and died at the young age of 43.BWW Interview: Marlie Rodriguez February 20, 2017
Last month I went to a private showcase of music from the musical Hamilton. The showcase was organized by pianist/arranger/singer Justin Ramos, former director of vocal music at Newbury Park High School who is now living in New York. For his cast, Ramos utilized some of the more talented singers he worked with during his tenure at NPHS to make the showcase happen. Marlie Rodriguez played the role of Eliza, Alexander Hamilton's wife, and got an outpouring of applause for her singing from the invitation-only audience. We got together a few weeks later to talk not just about the singular honor of performing songs from Hamilton, which has already revolutionized Broadway, but how she has reached a crossroads in her still young career in musical theater.BWW Review: GULF VIEW DRIVE at Rubicon Theatre Company February 10, 2017
There are three new events being unveiled at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center Thursday evening: Lit Live, a new local production company, And Lightning Struck, a new play written by the eminent local actor and producer Robert Weibezahl, and a new director, 21-year-old Austin Robert Miller. The show plays for only four performances this weekend. We spoke with Weibezahl and Miller about their new creation, a play about creation itself, the subject being the story behind the writing of one of the most famous novels in English literature, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.BWW Review: DIRTY DANCING: THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE at Theater League February 6, 2017
The success of the awkwardly titled Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage depends primarily on whether or not you were a fan of the motion picture it was closely modeled after. It's easy to say this since the stage version is nearly identical to the film, and in many ways works better as a live production. For the uninitiated or those who steered clear of the film, Dirty Dancing was one of the most successful motion pictures of the 1980s. The low-budget film became a surprise hit, earning $214 million at the box office and becoming the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video. The soundtrack LP, featuring a combination of original songs and vintage hits from the early 1960s, sold 32 million copies and spent four months on top of the best-selling album charts. Looking at the film from today's perspective, 30 years later, one wonders why it was so big. Though many remember the film as a charming coming-of-age story, critics called it 'schmaltzy,' citing the formulaic portrayal of its stock characters spouting trite dialog.BWW Interview: Siena Avila of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Thousand Oaks Repertory Company December 14, 2016
Siena Avila is like many other 16-year-old high schoolers you know. Cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic, and just a little bit shy. But Siena has one thing that most kids her age don't have, an amazing singing ability and a natural instinct for performing everything from light opera to musical theater. We first saw her perform in the Ventura County Gilbert and Sullivan Repertoire Company's recent production of The Sorcerer this past summer. Shepherded to VCGSRC producers Rebecca and John Pillsbury, Avila has made an immediate impact on the Ventura County theater scene, most recently being double-cast with Mary Zastrow in the Thousand Oaks Repertory Company production of A Christmas Carol. We sat down with Siena last week to get to know her and find out where she's been and where she's going.BWW Review: CALENDAR GIRLS at Santa Paula Theater Center December 13, 2016
???????Calendar Girls, a 2009 play based on a hit 2003 film, is Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi's true-to-life comedy about six middle-aged women from a village in Yorkshire, England who raise money by posing nude for a calendar, in the process becoming a worldwide sensation. The women's goal was to honor one of their members' husbands, who had died from leukemia, by raising money to purchase a settee to be dedicated to his memory. The 2003 motion picture starred Helen Mirren and became a major success, grossing nearly $100 million and garnering Golden Globe nominations for Mirren and co-star Julie Walters. The play is being presented at the Santa Paula Theater Center through December 18.BWW Interview: Louis Baker of RAGTIME at Actors' Repertory Theatre Of Simi December 2, 2016
Louis Baker has had a varied career in the entertainment world. As an actor, he studied under three prestigious performers: Bill Duke, Haile Gerima, and Debbie Allen. He has worked as a voiceover artist in the animation world, co-produces with his wife a family-centered web series called Faces of Offense, and has played a variety of roles on stage in shows such as Tommy, West Side Story, and The Wiz. But none of those parts are as meaningful to Louis as his current one - playing the historically-based author/orator Booker T. Washington in the Actors Repertory Theatre of Simi's production of Ragtime. The show closes this weekend, but we cornered Louis after last Sunday's performance to talk about his character in the context of the current political turmoil in America, which, unfortunately, is not that much different from what was depicted in E. L. Doctorow's famous novel.BWW Interview: Meghan Jones of RAGTIME at Actors' Repertory Theatre Of Simi November 30, 2016
The musical Ragtime, which plays through this Sunday, December 4, at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, is an important work that weaves actual historical personages into the fabric of its three intersecting stories: an upper-class white family, the African American ragtime pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr., and the Latvian immigrant Tateh. Two of the historical characters in the musical had profound impacts on American political history, which have heightened relevance due to the emotionally charged 2016 election, refocusing attention on matters of race, class, and immigration. This weekend, we interviewed the actors portraying anarchist Emma Goldman and educator/orator Booker T. Washington in the show, which will be featured in advance of this weekend's final performances of this essential work of musical theater.BWW Interview: Molly Ann Cunningham And Talia Asseraf of HAMLET at Curtain Call Youth Theatre November 30, 2016
The idea of a woman playing the lead in Shakespeare's Hamlet is not a new one. The first female Hamlet, Elizabeth Powell, performed the role at London's Drury Lane Theatre in 1796 and by 1820, the first American 'Hamlette,' Sarah Bartley, played it at the Park Theatre in New York.