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LA Made - Meet the Performers

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Acasola

Acasola is California State University, Northridge’s (CSUN) premiere A Cappella group. This is a diverse group of students who aim to deliver a unique musical experience to the CSUN community through the art of A Cappella music.

Since its birth in 2006, each successive generation of the group has built upon the foundation laid by those who have come before us. Acasola has recorded at Capitol Records with Corbin Bleu, placed 1st at the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival 2016, appeared at the ICCAs, on TV’s “Raising Hope,” and in numerous shows throughout California.


American Epic

Executive produced by T Bone Burnett, Robert Redford, and Jack White, “American Epic” is a three-part PBS documentary about the trailblazing era when the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the very first time. It premiered in 2016 on PBS along with “The American Epic Sessions,” a feature-length film showcasing many top contemporary artists in recording sessions.

Two British filmmakers, Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty, have pieced together this extraordinary story set in the late 1920s, when record company talent scouts toured America with a recording machine and for the first time captured the raw expression of emerging cultures. It democratized music and gave a voice to the poorest in the nation.


Artists at Play

Artists at Play is a collective of Asian-American creative professionals who curate quality theater in Los Angeles. Artists at Play presents theatrical productions missing from Los Angeles’ local landscape to tell the stories of communities underrepresented in theater, with a focus on the Asian-American experience. Past productions include plays by Lauren Yee, A. Rey Pamatmat, Michael Golamco, Julia Cho, Madhuri Shekar and most recently the world premiere of The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching. 


Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles

Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles was founded in 2011 by Kareli Montoya. Though young, the dance company has already distinguished itself as the nation's premier Mexican folk dance company. They have performed in world-class venues such as the Nokia Theater, Greek Theater, John Anson Ford Amphitheater, Santa Barbara Bowl, Valley Performing Arts Center and the Staples Center.  The dance company has been accompanied by various mariachi bands including Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, world-famous Mariachi Vargas and Mariachi Divas. Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles has shared the stage with celebrities such as Lila Downs, Beatriz Adriana, Paquita la del Barrio, and Armenian pop star Lilit Hovhannisyan. This amazing dance troupe is the first folklórico company in the country to accompany a symphony: the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and the Marina del Rey Symphony Orchestra, both conducted by Frank Fetta.


Beth Lapides

Beth is the Creatrix, Host, and Executive Producer of UnCabaret, a long running, critically acclaimed show which, in addition to its decades-long Sunday night run, has been produced for Amazon, Comedy Central, audible, and Comedy World Radio. 


Biffle & Shooster

Biffle & Shooster (Benny Biffle and Sammy Shooster) are one of the great forgotten comedy teams of the Golden Age of Cinema.  Their first talkie, a Vitaphone short subject, was made in 1928, and one of their last appearances was left on the cutting room floor of the Cinerama classic “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”  Nick Santa Maria and Will Ryan are the two film historians who have done more than anyone to revivify Biffle & Shooster, while film writer/producer/director Michael Schlesinger has been the champion of “restoring” Benny and Sammy’s classic two-reel films from the 1930s and 1940s.  All three experts will unveil some of the latest finds in the Biffle & Shooster oeuvre at this one-of-a-kind event.  If you love classic film comedy, this is a must-see event.


City of Gold

Documentary director Laura Gabbert's critically acclaimed films (NO IMPACT MAN, SUNSET STORY) deploy full measures of humor and drama to unflinchingly put a human face on such difficult social issues as aging, the environment, and AIDS. Most recently, Laura directed and produced the feature-length documentary CITY OF GOLD about Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food writer Jonathan Gold. The film premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.  About CITY OF GOLD, the New York Times said, “…the film does as much to demystify and yet romanticize Los Angeles as any Chandler novel.”  IFC/Sundance Selects bought the film at Sundance. The film played theatrically in over 40 markets and is currently available to VOD on iTunes, Amazon, and Hulu. 


The Colburn School

The Colburn School is a performing arts school located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, neighboring Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Broad Museum. The acclaimed faculty provides students with the highest quality performing arts education, which includes a multitude of performance opportunities in a state-of-the-art facility. More than 2,000 students attend classes at the Conservatory of Music, the Community School of Performing Arts, the Music Academy, and the Dance Academy.


Craft in America

The non-profit organization Craft in America, whose mission is to promote and advance original handcrafted work through educational programs in all media, is led by Executive Director Carol Sauvion. Sauvion is also the creator, co-executive producer, and director of the Peabody Award-winning PBS documentary series titled “Craft in America,” celebrating American craft and the artists who bring it to life. Each episode contains stories from diverse regions and cultures, blending history with living practice and exploring issues of identity, ritual, philosophy, and creative expression. The Craft in America Center is located in Los Angeles and open to the public. To learn more about Craft in America, visit www.craftinamerica.org.   

This LA Made program will feature a screening of excerpts from the Borders and Neighbors episodes of the PBS series, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Carol Sauvion with the artists featured in those episodes--Jaime Guerrero, Gerardo Monterrubio, and Ofelia Esparza.


Culture Shock

"We are a troupe of individuals who, through the power of music and dance, cultivate self-worth, dignity and respect for all people."

Culture Shock LA utilizes urban dance, art, and culture to cultivate meaningful education, enrichment and entertainment programs in diverse communities throughout Los Angeles. Through these programs, the organization teaches dance alongside social skills, leadership, discipline, teamwork, and self-confidence with the goal of creating a lasting impact on participants. 

Their professional dance troupe for adults provides training, rehearsal and performance opportunities for dancers to express themselves as artists.  Company members create challenging performance pieces but also utilize their talents to promote the Culture Shock vision of community outreach and awareness of critical social issues that affect the community as a whole to diverse audiences.


Dakaboom 

Dakaboom—moderating the A Cappella Showcase--is a music/comedy duo from New York and Los Angeles. Described only as postmodern vaudeville, their show must be experienced to be understood. Long-time best friends Ben McLain and Paul Peglar utilize a cappella, loop stations, stand-up, sketch, crowd interaction and several musical genres to create a world all their own--and everyone’s invited. Impressive talent mixed with unique humor makes the duo something brand new and yet altogether familiar to current audiences. Everyone leaves feeling better than when they arrived--with free hugs.


"Sharpies" by Eugene Pack 

A hilarious new comedy by Drama Desk award-winning, Emmy-nominated writer Eugene Pack, which follows a group of iconic celebrities at an autograph signing convention weekend in Milwaukee. Cast includes: Steven Weber, Jennifer Tilly, Lesley Ann Warren, Dayle Reyfel, Beth Grant, and Bradley White.


Eugene Pack is the creator of the Off-Broadway hit comedy sensation "Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words," which won the Drama Desk Award in the category of "Unique Theatrical Experience." Pack is also an Emmy Award-nominated writer and TV producer. He was nominated for Outstanding Writing for Variety, Comedy or Music for the special "America: A Tribute to Heroes," which won the Emmy for Outstanding Special. Pack is the creator and executive producer of the popular CMT series "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team," now in its fourth season, "Back to the Grind” (TV Land), "Celebrity Autobiography" (Bravo) and the new series "What I Hate About Me" for the Style Network. As a playwright, he has written (and performed) the critically acclaimed one-man shows "The Senior" and "Something Flexible With Meaning" and the play "Elinor Adjusting.” His play “Stan The Man,” developed at Theatre West, was optioned for the screen. Pack is currently collaborating with Motown founder Berry Gordy on his autobiographical musical “To Be Loved.” 


Get Lit

Get Lit fuses classic and spoken word poetry to increase literacy, empower youth, and inspire communities. The Get Lit Players are the most watched poets on the internet at over 200 million views, and they have collaborated with the United Nations, the White House, and more. Join the #LiteraryRiot at getlit.org! “Claim your poem, claim your life.”


Gods and Mortals

Paul Anthony Romero
Paul Anthony Romero is an award-winning classical pianist and composer. Paul is the creator of over 150 symphonic and operatic soundtrack scores for popular computer games such as Sony's Everquest, Ubisoft's Heroes Of Might & Magic, Atari's Neverwinter Nights, and Trion Worlds' Rift Planes of Telara. Paul has composed numerous soundtracks for television programs, independent movies, documentaries and commercials. Paul composed his first piano concerto at the age of 13 and debuted this work at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with the National Symphony orchestra under legendary conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. This concert was broadcast live on PBS and released on the Yamaha record label. Paul is the winner of the BMI-Jerry Goldsmith Composers Award and is the recipient of 2 NEA grants.

Todd Stroik
Todd Stroik is an actor, singer, dancer, writer, director, and producer. Originally from the Midwest, he spent a number of years touring and doing regional theater as well as performing at sea with Disney Cruise Lines before moving permanently to Los Angeles. Todd just wrapped up starring as Jerry in “The Full Monty” at the Eldorado Casino in Reno. (Plan B Productions). However, his big project is writing the book and lyrics for the new Broadway-style musical "Gods & Mortals" with his best friend, composer Paul Anthony Romero.


Golden Bridge Choir

Please join the Golden Bridge Choir for a special Father’s Day concert. The choir, now in its 12th year, is a Los Angeles-based, intergenerational, non-auditioned community choir specializing in joyful and exuberant harmonies from around the world. There will be an opportunity for the audience to join the choir in song. You will leave this concert feeling uplifted and inspired. Bring your friends and family and celebrate Father’s Day in song.

Maggie Wheeler
Maggie Wheeler is best known for her work as an actress in film and television, most notably as the character of Janice on NBC’s hit series “Friends.” In addition to her acting and voiceover work, Wheeler is a singer-songwriter, choir director, and vocal workshop facilitator. She has been teaching her vocal workshop "Singing in the Stream" nationwide for the past 25 years. Maggie directs The Golden Bridge Community Choir in Los Angeles along with her co-director, Emile Hassan Dyer.

Emile Hassan Dyer
Emile Hassan Dyer is a vocalist, percussionist, vocal improviser, storyteller, choreographer, and dancer. Emile was raised in France and Senegal, where he was influenced at an early age by the rhythms and music of West Africa. He brings a multicultural perspective to music, drawing on his Cherokee and African heritages while performing the percussion instruments and vocal styles of many cultures. Emile has toured nationally and internationally as both percussionist and vocalist. Spreading joy through music is his passion.


Jason Chu 

Hip-hop and spoken word artist Jason Chu is on a mission to speak hope, healing, and justice in a broken world. He tells stories about a generation wrestling with fear and joy.  Jason has performed and spoken at colleges, conferences, the White House, and overseas in Hong Kong and Beijing; for more, visit www.jasonchumusic.com.


Karmagraphy

Karmagraphy is a Los Angeles-based Bollywood Fusion dance company that was created to inspire a bridge between cultures through the art of dance. In seven exciting years, they have succeeded in bringing a palatable style of Indian dance to the Western world. Karmagraphy arose as a passion project, expressing the story of a woman--Kavita Rao--who grew up in America with an Indian heritage, and has now blossomed into a new voice through the art of dance. Karmagraphy has had the opportunity to perform for all types of events spanning from corporate to special occasions as well as to travel nationally and internationally. Their choreographers and entertainers have worked in film, television, and live entertainment, bringing their individual talents to the Karmagraphy repertoire.   


Lula Washington

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) is an L.A.-based repertoire dance ensemble that performs innovative and provocative choreography by Lula Washington. The LWDT was founded in 1980 by Lula and Erwin Washington to provide a creative outlet for minority dance artists in South Los Angeles. They wanted to make dance classes affordable for and accessible to children from low-income neighborhoods, where the studio is based. Since then, the School has taught dance to over 45,000 inner-city students and has risen to become one of the most admired African-American contemporary dance companies in the West–known for powerful, high-energy dancing and unique choreography. Lula Washington has steadfastly focused on using dance to explore social and humanitarian issues, including aspects of African-American history and culture. Los Angeles Public Library is proud to welcome both the professional Company (adults) and the Youth Dance Ensemble, a performing group for students ages 7- 17. 


“Mama” Sandi Romero 

Sandi “Mama” Romero--a national award-winning tamale maker--is the former owner of Mama’s Hot Tamales Café.  After recovering from breast cancer in 2012, she decided to bring her tamales out from under the café and into businesses, community centers, and neighborhoods by helping to establish temporary and permanent markets throughout Los Angeles County.  She now runs Mama’s Merging Markets, a community and economic development project of the non-profit Institute for Urban Initiatives. She also enjoys offering tamale-, salsa-, and agua fresca-making workshops.


The Poets of Amityville—A Comedy Play Reading With an All-Star Cast

LA Made presents a comedy play reading of "The Poets of Amityville," a new play by Drama Desk Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominated writer Eugene Pack, presented with an all-star cast including Peter Asher, Beth Grant, Rob Morrow, Mary Kay Place, Dayle Reyfel, Steven Weber, and Fred Willard.

The ensemble comedy centers on an adult education poetry class on Long Island, where a possible trip to Dublin ignites fierce competition.


Premiere A Cappella

Premiere is a contemporary, all-female a cappella group in Los Angeles. Bringing a diverse repertoire and range of voices, the group sings with attitude, dynamic leads, and messages of female empowerment. Premiere has had the honor of performing at such venues as the House of Blues Sunset Strip, hosting the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival twice, signing with the AwesomenessTV Network, and collaborating with acclaimed groups from across the country. Each woman brings a unique musical background and balances commitment to Premiere with her individual professional career. As a group, Premiere seeks to create powerful music and raise the bar of all-female a cappella.


Reggie Watts in Conversation with Anthony Valdez

Reggie Watts
Reggie Watts is an internationally renowned vocal artist/ beatboxer/ musician/ comedian who wows audiences with his live performances which are 100% improvised. Using his formidable voice, looping pedals, and his vast imagination, Reggie blends and blurs the lines between music and comedy. No two performances are the same and to that end, "genius" is the word most often used to describe Reggie Watts. LA Weekly crowned him "the most wildly inventive new talent of the past five years" while New York Magazine hailed Reggie as "Spectacularly original," Rolling Stone featured him as "Hot Comedian," SPIN named him as "Best New Comedian" and the LA Times praised Reggie is "a superstar."

Anthony Valdez
Anthony Valadez can currently be found on FM.TV hosting CrateDiggers, a weekly show in its third season dedicated to respectable musical collectors and record stores. He also travels across the country documenting festival experiences and exploring small towns on FUSEtv’s WristBanded. His weekly radio show on KCRW has been heralded by the likes of Childish Gambino, Ty Dolla $ign and Julian Casablancas (The Strokes). He can also be found hosting his popular music discovery show on Dash Radio. Valadez has opened for the likes of Bruno Mars, Sly Stone, Ben Harper, Little Dragon, Capital Cities, Prince, and Jennifer Lopez.  He was voted Best DJ in LA Weekly by the Readers Pool for 2016. 


RuPaul Charles

RuPaul Charles was born and raised in San Diego and moved to Atlanta where he studied theatre at North Atlanta School of Performing Arts. RuPaul was lead singer of the rock band "Wee Wee Pole" before moving to NYC in the mid-eighties, where he was crowned Queen of Manhattan in 1989. In 1992, RuPaul achieved international fame with the hit song Supermodel (You Better Work) and has recorded a duet with Sir Elton John. He is a singer-songwriter of 13 solo albums including the latest, Butch Queen. He has written two books: Lettin’ It All Hang Out and Workin’ It. RuPaul has appeared in over 50 films and television sitcoms in addition to being the host of VH1’s The RuPaul Show and host and executive producer for the global phenomenon RuPaul’s Drag Race, for which he won an Emmy. RuPaul currently hosts the weekly podcast What’s the Tee? With Michelle Visage. He splits his time between NYC and LA. 


The Surprising History of Yiddish Poets

Caroline Luce, Ph.D., is the Research and Digital Projects Manager of the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the Chief Digital Curator of the Mapping Jewish Los Angeles Project. She received her Ph.D. in American History from UCLA in 2013 for her dissertation exploring the complexities of working-class identity and Yiddish-based labor and community organizing in Boyle Heights. She is currently developing a book manuscript based on her dissertation entitled, "Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor and Culture in Los Angeles, 1900-1950."


Theatre 40

John Leslie
Mr. Leslie is in the middle of his 14th season as the corrupt Senator Winston in Theatre 40's hit production of The Manor (acting alongside his wife Melanie MacQueen) Previous to this, he took on the dual role of Ernie and Blake in Separate Beds (directed by Melanie MacQueen) also at Theatre 40. As a writer, he adapted Dracula's Guest for the 2014 edition of Wicked Lit. This year, he premiered his one-man show, The Soft Click and Other Stories, which was based on his experiences as a teacher. John has a long history with the Los Angeles Public Library system. For seven years, he produced the Halloween show The Fire Burns Blue at the Central Library downtown. Currently, he hosts the Theatre 40 reading series at the Westwood Branch Library.

Melanie Macqueen
Melanie MacQueen has been an actress/director/playwright and teacher in the Los Angeles area for over 30 years. She has done many TV and movie roles over the years, but her most prominent role as an actress has been her 23-year run representing the Virginia Lottery in multiple commercials and many appearances as “Lady Luck.” The character of Lady Luck is represented by exhibits in the Virginia Historical Society and the Library of Virginia. Melanie is also well known in the Anime community for her voice roles, most distinctly for her role as “Lisa Hayes” in ROBOTECH, an early and influential Sci-Fi Anime. Her ongoing acting role, for the past several years, has been in the long-running and popular show, THE MANOR, which plays every year in Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, and is based on the mansion’s lurid history.  As a playwright, Melanie is the librettist and writer of the award-winning musical, IN THE NAME OF GOD, a musical satire on the extremes of religions through the ages. Her other works include, ANIMAL TALK, a children’s musical and CHRISTMAS TIMES, a quartet of supernatural Christmas tales. As a director, Melanie frequently works with THEATRE 40, most recently, in spring of 2016, directing the relationship comedy, SEPARATE BEDS. As a teacher, Melanie works for the after-school arts program, LA’S BEST as a theater teacher, through Lelia Goldoni’s organization, THEATRE PHOENIX.  She and her husband also teach the Adult Education Theatre Appreciation Seminars, in association with the BHUSD and THEATRE 40. Melanie has done a lot of work with libraries over the years.  At the Westwood Library, Melanie taught Reader’s Theatre to elementary school kids, and she and her husband, John Leslie, have done many library presentations over the years, for holidays and other occasions.  She is happy to help present to you, TWO LA RAYS!


Unstrumental

Unstrumental is Calabasas High's co-ed a cappella group, founded in 2001. They are a student-directed group and perform all types of music, ranging from The Beatles and Stevie Wonder to Regina Spektor and Beyonce. They were awarded first place in the 2014 Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, receiving awards for Best Visual Performance, Best Soloist, and Fan Favorite. In 2013, they placed second overall in the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, and also accrued awards for Best Female Soloist, Best Choreography/Performance, and the Standing Ovation Award. They are the 2007 Southern California ICHSA Champions and have won awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and Outstanding Choreography. They have also been featured on BOHSA 2005 and 2006 for their recordings of "Are You Happy Now" by Michelle Branch and "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab For Cutie.


Will Ryan & The Saguaro Sisters

Will Ryan
Will Ryan is a voice-over legend whose credits range from G.I. Joe to Winnie the Pooh. He is also an acclaimed songwriter and musician who is one of the leading lights in keeping the Western Swing tradition alive. Western Swing combines the best elements of country and big band swing music for a danceable sound that has captivated audiences for almost a century.  

The Saguaro Sisters
Sweethearts of song, Shona, Karona, and Katriona are all actors and soloists in their own right, having experience in both musical theater and cover-band work. They started perfecting their three-part harmony four years ago and formed The Saguaro Sisters in early 2014 after being discovered by and partnering with singer, actor, and prolific songwriter Will Ryan of Will Ryan & the Cactus County Cowboys–the Official Singing Cowboy Band of Hollywood!

As singing cowgirls, the Saguaro Sisters enjoy performing original Western Skiffle material written by Ryan, who expertly crafts his songs (which often have elements of comedy) as if they could have been written for the Golden Era of Hollywood. Think the Sons of the Pioneers meet the Andrew Sisters and you’d be close!

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