Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thank You, Minerva Review/Opening Night!

We had a wonderful opening on July 12th! I could not be prouder of this cast and crew. Seeing all the elements come together was just a joy to see. Here is a wonderful review:

Thank You, Minerva reviewed by Rich Borowy for Accessibly Live Off-Line:

Alan Stillson’s THANK YOU, MINERVA, a musical tale that pays tribute to some of the songs that made America great with a little help from the Roman gods, makes its world premier at The Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood.
Looking above from their heavenly royal court sits the first family of all the Roman gods; Jupiter (John McCool Bowers), his spouse Juno (Julia Shear Kushner), and their daughter Minerva (Rachel Berman). This family that’s been around for centuries, has seen the stark rise and utter fall of their Roman empire. As the world evolved, they look upon the mortals of the earth within their own national empires. Some of these cultures fail, while others succeed. One of these bodies, calling itself “The United States of America” has its up and downs, but shows itself with many of its people that gave goodness through music by way of its songwriters. Since Jupiter knows that American hove their celebratory holidays and the songs connected with them, he has his sole child to play inspirational goddess (as she is the goddess of muses), to give some enlightenment to those that pen the words of these future songs appearing in a dream. These songwriters are awoken from their sleep while she gives them a little help in getting the phrases going, only to leave them alone so they can get the job finished! Although they can’t recall her visit, their songs make an impact to the nation and world, from their inspirational meanings by way of celebration as well as speaking of hope, affection, and even with a bit of caution! Of course, the songs that Minerva inspire to write are done through her anonymous means. That is why Roman gods and goddesses exist–to give a little comfort to a world body that may be a bit down and out, but always comes out for the better!
This musical play is very unique in many ways. For starters, its a play that takes a bit of Roman mythology, adds a bit of American culture from the 19th and 20th centuries, and shows how one body of people from all walks of lifestyles and cultures are connected through music. It’s also very informative, giving a bit of history of what the nation (and world) was going through, and how these songwriters, mostly known for the songs they created while their names got lost through the annals of time, made their unique imprint. The songs and song lyricists range from styles as semi classical, tin pan alley, ballads, and a hint of rock ‘n roll! In short, all of these tunes are part of The Great American Songbook. Alan Stillson, who wrote the book as well as additional musical pieces (used as “bridges” where Jupiter tells his daughter to do her muse stuff), creates a stage work that is one part “American Top-40” (the stories behind the hits), second part “Name That Tune” (a fun way to guess the ditty without looking at the theater program to pre discover what songs are being focused upon before the lyrics that Minerva “helps” to writer with gives away the hints), and final part musical stage review! The cast of six players are great with their performances. John McCool Bowers as Jupiter dons a white robe, carries a staff, and sports a white beard and laurel as a crown. Julia Shear Kushner as Juno is the loving spouse to her man, perhaps playing his muse! And the goddess Minerva as performed by Rachel Berman is the shining bean of loveliness. She’s there to assist her mostly male clientele, although some would like to join her to bed. (Note: She’s not that kind of a gal!!) Three other cast members appear: Jonathan Byram, Rachel Howe, and Jackson Smith, playing the lyricists as well as the cabaret singers that vocalize the final product as sung under the transcribed musical score directed by Bonnie Janofsky. Alissa-Nicole Koblentz choreographs and directs this show that will uplift its audience.Naturally, this reviewer could note what songs are being reviewed, as well as the people behind those tunes. But instead of spoiling the enthusiasm, one would have to experience this production in person. As stated, the song genres will range wildly, and might even have those same audience patrons hum the tunes while leaving the theater space!
It isn’t often that a show can teach you a few things about American pop culture that makes it fun with a bit of wit thrown it. But the title says it all! So if you are a song lyric writer, and while in slumber you are paid a call from a shining Roman goddess, just say THANK YOU, MINERVA, write that musical number, and watch it change the world–if not bring a tear of joy or sorrow in one’s eye! That’s is what makes America great!!

THANK YOU, MINERVA, presented by Stillsonworks, performs at The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd. (off Lankershim Blvd.) North Hollywood, until August 18th. Show times are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. For tickets and more information, call (818) 884-4284, or online at http://www.Stillsonworks.com 

Enjoy a few shots from our opening night toast as well!
Costume Designer Natasha Baumgardner, director Alissa-Nicole Koblentz and actor Julia Shear Kushner.
Production Manager Patrick T. Rogers, producer/writer Alan Stillson and director Alissa-Nicole Koblentz.
The cast and crew let their hair down.

Congrats to a wonderful run at The Secret Rose Theatre!

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Nuns Gone Wild

Alissa-Nicole Koblentz (Sister Berthe),Mirai Booth-Ong (Sister Margaretta) and Taylor Pyles (Sister Christian) Just a silly thing we concocked backstage before our final performance of The Sound of Music. Have a laugh with us!