Dec 102016
 
"Little Drummer Bowie" At The Falcon Theatre in Burbank

“Little Drummer Bowie” Production At The Falcon Theatre: Katie Kitani, Katie DeShan, Rick Batalla, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Niles Rivers, Cloie Wyatt Taylor. Photo by Sasha A. Venola

The setting is Jerusalem / Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. The energy is Rock-N-Roll. The pungent spice is our current political situation. The bonus? An unexpectedly intimate experience. The Troubadour Theater Company’s “Little Drummer Bowie” at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank will chase your winter blues away!

The Troubadour Theater Company is known – and recognized – for reinventing classics to the tune of contemporary music and timely satire.

"Little Drummer Bowie" At The Falcon Theatre in Burbank

“Little Drummer Bowie” Production At The Falcon Theatre: Katie Kitani, Rick Batalla, Lisa Valenzuela, Joseph Leo Bwarie,Niles Rivers, Katie DeShan, Cloie Wyatt Taylor. Photo by Sasha A. Venola

In “Little Drummer Bowie” the story of the Holy Family intertwines with a story of an abandoned drummer boy, who rises to fame as Ziggy Stardust and becomes corrupted by fame. (He subsequently falls from grace which gives him the opportunity to ponder existential questions and learn the meaning of life.) The show incorporates references to current events (including one to the memorable “monolog” delivered by a “Hamilton” cast member, Brandon Victor Dixon, to Vice President Elect Mike Pence) and other trending topics.

The storyline of “Little Drummer Bowie” is secondary (yes, Someone is born and someone else is reborn); it is merely the string that holds together many individual jewels of musical performances. There is singing, dancing, humor and surprises throughout the show. An example of a surprise? The Three Wise Men, in Troubies’ interpretation of events, are: Don King, Larry King and Billie Jean King….

Matt Walker, the artistic director of The Troubadour Theater Company co-directed the play with Joseph Leo Bwarie.

"Little Drummer Bowie" At The Falcon Theatre in Burbank

“Little Drummer Bowie” Production At The Falcon Theatre: Joseph Leo Bwarie, Beth Kennedy. Photo by Sherry Greczmiel

The star of “Little Drummer Bowie” is Joseph Leo Bwarie who takes on the challenge of becoming red-haired, glam rocker Ziggy Stardust and performing David Bowie’s greatest hits (including “Under Pressure”, “Let’s Dance”, “Drummer Boy”, “Changes”, “Fame”, and more) and succeeds. (His rendition of “Ground Control To Captain Tom” is particularly stirring.) No wonder, considering that Bwarie is a seasoned veteran of musical theatre. He’s been Frankie Valli in the Tony Award® winning musical Jersey Boys in the National Tour, Las Vegas productions and on Broadway over 2,000 times. Incidentally, he isn’t any worse for wear!

The cast is excellent, each actor is multi-faceted and all performances are fittingly enthusiastic. Lisa Valenzuela (Ovation Award Winner) and Cloie Wyatt Taylor (an inspired dancer) stand out for their performances. Beth Kennedy (Ovation Award Winner) has a star quality. For me personally, Rick Batalla (Ovation Award Winner) – in his many incarnations during the play – is the life of the show!

The band is conducted by the accomplished Eric Heinly (drums) and features Kevin McCourt (keyboards), BJ Johnson (bass), Mike Abraham (guitar), Kirsten Edkins and Ashley Jarmack (reeds). The music – of utmost importance in this case – is in no way inferior to a rock concert thanks to a great team performance. Eric Heinly’s drum mastery is outstanding. Special applause is due to an extra-ordinary saxophonist whose name – shame on me! – escapes me. (Please accept my apology: I’ll welcome your help in correcting this unpleasant omission.)

Reviews usually don’t mention stage lighting. In this case I have to make an exception. An occasional spotlight on the audience was a stroke of genius reminding us that the magic of any live show happens only when the show resonates with the audience. “Little Drummer Bowie” does. The credit for creative lighting goes to JM Montecalvo and Skylar Johnson. (And yes, Claudio Radosshia)

I’d be amiss, if I didn’t highlight two factors which undoubtedly influenced this review. The size and style of the Falcon Theatre lend themselves to a more intimate experience of a play. The feeling is sustained by the cast of Troubies that interacts with the audience. The result is a warm mood which brings the artists and the audience together in a celebration. There is no “glass wall” separating the two. There is no “us” and “them”. The experience is a shared one which makes it so much more. The artists and the audience immerse themselves in the joy of Christmas Season, share the musical legacy of Bowie, share a laugh and our spoken – and unspoken – collective thoughts.

You’ll smile, you’ll laugh out loud, you’ll rock to David Bowie’s hits, you’ll get taken aback by the self-deprecating humor of the cast. In spite of the fact that the show revolves around Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth, it doesn’t have the sentimentality of a Christmas story but the crispness of a parody and rock concert.

Eggnog is good, think of ”The Little Drummer Boy” first recorded by the Von Trapp Family Singers or the famous Bing Crosby and David Bowie Christmas duet from 1977. Eggnog punch – as in Troubies’ “Little Drummer Bowie” – is sexier.

The show is dedicated by the Troubadour Theater Company’s to the Falcon Theatre’s Founder, Garry Marshall who passed away, recently. Considering his commitment to nurturing theatrical innovation and his long history with Troubies, he’d surely welcome a toast with eggnog punch at Christmas time…

See “Little Drummer Bowie” at the Falcon Theatre – if you can still get tickets! – first class, lighthearted entertainment succeeds only when it is created and delivered by high caliber artists. The Troubies are.

Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside, Burbank, CA 91505.

Performances run through Jan. 15th
Wed.–Fri. at 8pm
Sat. at 4pm & 8pm
Sun. at 4pm & 7pm
plus select Tuesdays

Tickets, priced from $30-$45, are on sale Online at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 818-955-8101. Box Office hours are Tue.–Fri. 12-6pm, Sat.–Sun. 10am-4pm, and 1 hour prior to show time on performance days. For more information, visit www.falcontheatre.com

 

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Bowie Rules

★★★★★
5 5 1
I’ve seen and enjoyed Little Drummer Bowie. Cool review, couldn’t expressed my experience better with one exception. The context of the show aside, most of the credit belongs to David Bowie. His music is the backbone of Little Drummer Bowie. Bowie was a strange bird to say the least, but his talent needs no explanation.
Dec 082016
 

Little Drummer Bowie Opens At The Falcon Theatre

Falcon Theatre presents
Troubadour Theater Company’s

 

LITTLE DRUMMER BOWIE

A Musical Parody of Biblical Proportions

 

Ovation Award-winners and Troubadour Theater Company favorites Rick Batalla, Lisa Valenzuela and Beth Kennedy reunite with long-time ‘Troubie’ Joseph Leo Bwarie in Little Drummer Bowie after his Broadway run as Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. Artistic Director and founder, Matt Walker, will co-direct the musical parody with Bwarie.

Changing the rules to their own game, the ‘Troubies’ and some ‘newbies’ return to the Falcon Theatre this holiday season to pay tribute to the late, great David Bowie in a fully reimagined production of their infamous theatrical mash-up, Little Drummer Bowie.

The company, known for marrying classic source material with legendary music will spoof the 1960’s television special, The Little Drummer Boy, and Bowie’s iconic glam rock sound, offering a theatrical event sure to dazzle all and surprise even the most knowing ‘Troubie’ fan.

This laugh-out-loud musical parody finds our “Heroes” in a heartwarming tale of family, forgiveness and “Changes,” resulting in the ultimate discovery for all seasons: “Modern Love” lives inside.

In addition to Batalla, Bwarie, Kennedy and Valenzuela, the cast will include: Riccardo Berdini, Katie DeShan, Katie Kitani, Phillip J. Lewis and Cloie Wyatt Taylor with choreography by Jordana Toback and musical direction & arrangements by Eric Heinly.

The design team includes Christopher Scott Murillo, scenic design; Sharon McGunigle, costume design; JM Montecalvo, lighting design; Daniel Tator, sound design; Bobbie Zlotnik, wig design; John Stapleton for MAC cosmetics, makeup design and Sandi Logan, casting.

Troubadour Theater Company lovingly dedicates this production to friend, mentor, and longtime co-conspirator, Garry K. Marshall.

 

Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside, Burbank, CA 91505.

Performances:
Opening Night Dec. 9, the show runs through Jan. 15
Wed.–Fri. at 8pm
Sat. at 4pm & 8pm
Sun. at 4pm & 7pm
plus select Tuesdays

Tickets, priced from $30-$45, are on sale Online at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 818-955-8101. Box Office hours are Tue.–Fri. 12-6pm, Sat.–Sun. 10am-4pm, and 1 hour prior to show time on performance days. For more information, please visit www.falcontheatre.com

About Matt Walker, Artistic Director
As Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Los Angeles based Troubadour Theater Company, Walker has conceived and directed over forty original “Troubie” productions in the U.S. and abroad since 1995 – including a fifteen-year residency at the Falcon Theatre. He is the recipient of the O.C. Weekly Theater Award for Career Achievement, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater and the LADCC’s Joel Hirschorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theater. He has worked with Bill Irwin, Second City Improvisation, The Royal Shakespeare Co., The San Francisco Mime Troupe and is a graduate of Ringling Bros. Clown College leading to his tenure as a circus clown in The Greatest Show On Earth. MFA acting students at the University of Southern California know him as adjunct professor, teaching advanced movement in clowning, Commedia, and the artful skill of pie-throwing. In his multi-faceted career, he has worked in television, film, theater, opera and circus. Walker co-wrote the screenplay for Garry Marshall’s 2016 film, Mother’s Day, after serving as on-set writer for Marshall’s Valentine’s Day (2009) and New Year’s Eve (2011).

About the Troubadour Theater Company
Troubadour Theater Company is a free-wheeling, no holds barred, Commedia dell’arte flavored, slapstick driven Los Angeles based ensemble of actors, musicians, and comedians that has been performing for audiences throughout Southern California and beyond since 1995. Their fast-paced, laugh-filled, loose musical adaptations (some of the lines are still there) of classic plays, literature, television specials and film, as well as their original productions and hilarious sketch material, make this company a unique and exciting experience for theater-goers of any age. For more info on the “Troubies,” visit www.troubie.com.

About the Falcon Theatre
The Falcon Theatre is a 130-seat professional theatre that operates year-round in Burbank, California, built by Director/Writer/Producer Garry Marshall and his daughter Kathleen Marshall LaGambina. The Falcon opened in November of 1997 and launched its annual 5-play Subscription Series in 2002, currently produced by Kathleen and Sherry Greczmiel. Mr. Marshall founded the Falcon as a place where established artists and emerging talent can come together to create exciting work on stage.

Spark of Love Toy Drive
Through December 23, 2016, audience members are invited and encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the Falcon lobby for the Spark of Love Toy Drive by the Southern California Firefighters.

About “Spark of Love Toy Drive”
ABC7 and Southern California Firefighters are celebrating the 23rd year of the “Spark of Love Toy Drive.” Over the past two decades, the “Spark of Love Toy Drive” has successfully collected more than 9 million toys for underserved children and teens. The “Spark of Love Toy Drive” takes place in November and December every year. With love and support of donors and sponsors, kids across Southern California receive a new toy each holiday season.

 

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Oct 132016
 

LITTLE DRUMMER BOWIE On The Way To Falcon Theatre

Falcon Theatre presents
Troubadour Theater Company’s

LITTLE DRUMMER BOWIE

A Musical Parody of Biblical Proportions

 

Ovation Award-winners and Troubadour Theater Company favorites Rick Batalla, Lisa Valenzuela and Beth Kennedy reunite with long-time ‘Troubie’ Joseph Leo Bwarie in Little Drummer Bowie after his Broadway run as Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. Artistic Director and founder, Matt Walker, will co-direct the musical parody with Bwarie.
Changing the rules to their own game, the ‘Troubies’ and some ‘newbies’ return to the Falcon Theatre this holiday season to pay tribute to the late, great David Bowie in a fully reimagined production of their infamous theatrical mash-up, Little Drummer Bowie.

The company, known for marrying classic source material with legendary music will spoof the 1960’s television special, The Little Drummer Boy, and Bowie’s iconic glam rock sound, offering a theatrical event sure to dazzle all and surprise even the most knowing ‘Troubie’ fan.

This laugh-out-loud musical parody finds our “Heroes” in a heartwarming tale of family, forgiveness and “Changes,” resulting in the ultimate discovery for all seasons: “Modern Love” lives inside.

In addition to Batalla, Bwarie, Kennedy and Valenzuela, the cast will include: Riccardo Berdini, Katie DeShan, Katie Kitani, Phillip J. Lewis and Cloie Wyatt Taylor with choreography by Jordana Toback and musical direction & arrangements by Eric Heinly.

The design team includes Christopher Scott Murillo, scenic design; Sharon McGunigle, costume design; JM Montecalvo, lighting design; Daniel Tator, sound design; Bobbie Zlotnik, wig design; John Stapleton for MAC cosmetics, makeup design and Sandi Logan, casting.

Troubadour Theater Company lovingly dedicates this production to friend, mentor, and longtime co-conspirator, Garry K. Marshall.

Previews begin Nov. 30 with Press Opening Night Dec. 9, and runs through Jan. 15 at the Falcon Theatre located at 4252 Riverside, Burbank, CA 91505. Performances are Wed.–Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 4pm & 8pm, Sun. at 4pm & 7pm, plus select Tuesdays. Tickets, priced from $30-$45, on sale Nov. 9 online at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 818-955-8101. Box Office hours are Tue.–Fri. 12-6pm, Sat.–Sun. 10am-4pm, and 1 hour prior to show time on performance days. For more information, please visit www.falcontheatre.com

About Matt Walker, Artistic Director
As Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Los Angeles based Troubadour Theater Company, Walker has conceived and directed over forty original “Troubie” productions in the U.S. and abroad since 1995 – including a fifteen-year residency at the Falcon Theatre. He is the recipient of the O.C. Weekly Theater Award for Career Achievement, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater and the LADCC’s Joel Hirschorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theater. He has worked with Bill Irwin, Second City Improvisation, The Royal Shakespeare Co., The San Francisco Mime Troupe and is a graduate of Ringling Bros. Clown College leading to his tenure as a circus clown in The Greatest Show On Earth. MFA acting students at the University of Southern California know him as adjunct professor, teaching advanced movement in clowning, Commedia, and the artful skill of pie-throwing. In his multi-faceted career, he has worked in television, film, theater, opera and circus. Walker co-wrote the screenplay for Garry Marshall’s 2016 film, Mother’s Day, after serving as on-set writer for Marshall’s Valentine’s Day (2009) and New Year’s Eve (2011).

About the Troubadour Theater Company
Troubadour Theater Company is a free-wheeling, no holds barred, Commedia dell’arte flavored, slapstick driven Los Angeles based ensemble of actors, musicians, and comedians that has been performing for audiences throughout Southern California and beyond since 1995. Their fast-paced, laugh-filled, loose musical adaptations (some of the lines are still there) of classic plays, literature, television specials and film, as well as their original productions and hilarious sketch material, make this company a unique and exciting experience for theater-goers of any age. For more info on the “Troubies,” visit www.troubie.com.

About the Falcon Theatre
The Falcon Theatre is a 130-seat professional theatre that operates year-round in Burbank, California, built by Director/Writer/Producer Garry Marshall and his daughter Kathleen Marshall LaGambina. The Falcon opened in November of 1997 and launched its annual 5-play Subscription Series in 2002, currently produced by Kathleen and Sherry Greczmiel. Mr. Marshall founded the Falcon as a place where established artists and emerging talent can come together to create exciting work on stage.