Los Angeles Theater Preview: EMPIRE (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts)

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by Tony Frankel on January 21, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

A MUSICAL THAT REACHES FOR NEW HEIGHTS

Built during the Depression between 1930 and 1931, the Empire State Building became the world’s tallest office building—surpassing the Chrysler Building by a whopping 204 feet. The design of the building changed 16 times during planning and construction, but 3,000 workers completed the building’s construction in record time: One year and 45 days, including Sundays and holidays. The Empire State Building is composed of 60,000 tons of steel, 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, 10 million bricks, and 730 tons of aluminum and stainless steel.

Cooper L. Stanton, Caleb Shaw, Justin Michael Wilcox, Mike Starr, Tommy Bracco, Juan Caballer, Josh Walden and Michael Baxter

Built for $41 million, the Empire State Building remained the tallest building (at 1,250 feet) in the world for 41 years. (In 1972, the World Trade Center claimed this distinction.) Today, despite being surpassed in height by other towers, the structure remains an internationally known landmark and arguably the most famous building ever constructed.

Kevin Earley, Tony Sheldon and Stephanie Gibson at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

And if you think erecting this amazing creation is challenging, try creating a musical. It takes the same indomitable spirit, vision, compromise, talent, and risk. And the La Mirada Theatre and McCoy Rigby Entertainment is one of the few regional outfits willing to put a huge amount of time and investment toward this treasured American art form. And last year’s Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice A Musical was a runaway hit.

Tory Freeth, Rachel Osting and Rachel King at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Now, along with Sue Vaccaro, Ricky Stevens & The Rivet Gang, La Mirada and McCoy Rigby announce the pre-Broadway engagement of Empire, with book, music & lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull, musical direction by Sariva Goetz, and directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who staged astounding revivals of Ragtime on Broadway and Cabaret for Reprise (see Stage and Cinema’s review).

Joe Hart and Caleb Shaw at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Empire is an original musical about those who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world, the Empire State Building. When The Roaring Twenties collapsed into the reeling 30s, these industrialists, laborers and their families mortgaged all that was safe and reasonable for the dream of leaving their mark on New York City and the world. Empire is a celebration of the American spirit with big dance numbers, pop-driven melodies, and captivating spectacle. Empire puts a contemporary spin on the classic musicals of the ’40s and ’50s.

Stephanie Gibson at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Along with the amazing Kevin Earley, the cast is an assemblage of our best musical performers: Michael Baxter, Chassey Bennett, Tommy Bracco, Ricky Bulda, Juan Caballer, Caitlyn Calfas, Fatima El-Bashir, Tory Freeth, Stephanie Gibson, Joe Hart, Charlotte Maltby, Tony Sheldon, Michael McCormick, Katharine McDonough, Gabriel Navarro, Rachel Osting, Caleb Shaw, Cooper Stanton, Michael Starr, Christine Tucker, Rodrigo Varandas, Josh Walden and Justin Michael Wilcox.

EMPIRE castrehearsal photos by Ricky Bulda

Empire
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada
Wed & Thurs at 7:30;
Fri at 8; Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 2
ends on February 14, 2016
for tickets, call 562.944.9801
or visit La Mirada Theatre

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Coleen Smith January 27, 2016 at 6:04 pm

I saw the show it is energetic, wholesome and perfect for any age!

I especially enjoyed the love story part! Stephanie was great as Frankie and Kevin is a fine architect!

Wish we could have it come to Tennessee.

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Lilly B. February 7, 2016 at 9:01 am

I highly enjoyed this production! I found it interesting your wording in highlighting Kevin Early, but naming Stephanie Gibson within the ensemble list. No offense at all, but to me, she was the star of the show – The reason why I couldn’t take make eyes off the stage! Just an observation. It is always good to hear & read other viewpoints. Personally, it seemed that she was channeling the Queen of Comedy herself, Lucille Ball. It’s refreshing to see a leading lady embodying, not just the pretty ingenue, but a brazen, funny, real woman! The kind of woman, we need to see more of on stage & in film. Thank you for covering this show!

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