RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD to Run This Summer at Kirk Douglas Theatre
Veteran Broadway actor Stu James (Benny in RENT, national tour of The Color Purple) will reprise the role of black entrepreneur and music mogul John Dolphin when last season's smash hit musical Recorded in Hollywood gets an all-new production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Previews begin July 8, with the press opening set for July 16.A rare blend of R&B, rock and relevance, Recorded in Hollywood tells the story of trailblazing Los Angeles entrepreneur and civil rights activist John Dolphin, who made his mark on the national music scene long before Motown existed. Written by Matt Donnelly and Jamelle Dolphin, the production features an ensemble of 21 performers, a six-piece live band, 15 original songs by Andy Cooper, and eight covers of songs launched in the legendary Dolphin's of Hollywood record store on Central Avenue in South L.A. In its first incarnation as a 99-seat production, Recorded in Hollywood received stellar reviews including a Los Angeles Times "Critic's Choice" and a Stage Raw "Pick of the Week"; was a Stage Raw Award nominee for Musical of the Year; and was featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," in the Sunday Los Angeles Times and in the LA Weekly, among many others. Cast members returning from that run include Broadway performer Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King, Hairspray, Mary Poppins) as Percy Ivy; Jenna Gillepsie, who will portray Ruth Dolphin; and ensemble members Franklin Grace, Matthew Lewis Sims, Jr., Sha'Leah Nikole Stubblefield and Katherine Washington. New to this production are Wilkie Ferguson III in the role of Jesse Belvin; Thomas Hobson as Sam Cooke; Matt Magnusson as legendary DJ Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg; and Frank Lawson as Los Angeles Sentinel founding publisher Leon Washington, along with ensemble members Ashley Lynette Brown, Caitlin Gallogly, Gabi Hankins, Dylan Hoffinger, Alfred Jackson, Bren Thor Johnson, Ryan Murray, Joël René, Tyler Ruebensaal and Emily Zetterberg. "The hugely positive response to the 99-seat production energized us to take it to the next level," says Jamelle Dolphin. "Broadway producer Lou Spisto has come on board, and we've held two extensive workshops, adding a lot of new talent and reshaping much of the book and a fair amount of the music. Among other things, we want to put more emphasis on my grandfather's legacy as a driving force behind integrating the Los Angeles music scene in the '50s." John Dolphin opened his Dolphin's of Hollywood record shop in 1948, where he helped build the careers of some of the biggest names in music. "When he realized that no one was going to let him open his store on all-white Hollywood Blvd., he brought Hollywood to Central Avenue," Jamelle explains. "By naming the store 'Dolphin's of Hollywood,' he was telling the world that he was going to stare discrimination in the face and not blink." Dolphin's of Hollywood soon became the most famous record store in the country, with legendary DJs like Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg, Hunter Hancock and Charles Trammel spinning records all night from the front window. Dolphin recorded a host of R&B, blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and even western music talent at the store on a series of labels with evocative names like "Lucky," "Money," "Cash" and "Recorded in Hollywood." The many great artists whose careers he advanced included Sam Cooke, Jesse Belvin, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Crayton and Major Lance to name a few. A marketing genius, Dolphin was the first to keep his store open 24 hours, and he pioneered the "Buy One, Get One Free" marketing concept. The shop and its broadcasts were a gathering place for music lovers from every race and background and became "the place to be" in L.A. - despite ongoing opposition and harassment from the LAPD under police Chief William H. Parker. Four-time NAACP "Best Director" Award winner Denise Dowse returns to the Kirk Douglas production as director, as does Stage Raw Award-nominated choreographer Cassie Crump. The musical director is Abdul Hamid Royal; arrangements are by Kevin Toney and Andrae Alexander; and orchestrations and additional arrangements are by John Gentry Tennyson. Set design is by Bruce Goodrich; lighting design is by Lap Chi Chu; sound design is by Drew Dalzell and Alex Mackyol, Diablo Sound; costume design is by Mylette Nora; hair and wigs design is by Aishah Williams; and casting is by Michael Donovan. The stage manager is Ronn Goswick; general management and marketing are by Theatre Planners; and Jamelle Dolphin and Lou Spisto produce. Recorded in Hollywood opens for press on Saturday, July 16 and continues through Aug. 7, with performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Preview performances will take place on the same schedule, beginning July 8. Tickets range from $39 - $59. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. FREE parking is located across the street, underneath Culver City City Hall: enter on Duquesne, just south of Culver Blvd. For reservations and information, call (213) 972-4488 or go to www.RecordedInHollywood.com.