Posted on Nov 15, 2013 under Archives, Interviews, Other interesting people |
Singer, producer, and composer Steve Tyrell was born in Texas and grew up in Houston’s 5th Ward. As a teenager, he performed in local R & B bands and at 19 he landed a job as a staff producer in New York at indie label Scepter Records. Tyrell was soon promoted to head of A & R and promotions and began to work with some of America’s greatest songwriters; Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Carole King. After recruiting fellow Texan BJ Thomas, Tyrell produced his hits, “Hooked on a Feeling,” and Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”
In Los Angeles, he co-founded Tyrell –Mann, a music supervision company, and continued to produce Grammy-Award winning songs for movies and also music for television. He returned to singing in 1991, with a cameo performance of “The Way You Look Tonight,” for the movie Father of the Bride. That eventually led to a ten albums, most featuring standards.
Tyrell recently performed three nights at Catalina Jazz Club to promote his latest album, “It’s Magic: The Songs of Sammy Cahn.” The album’s thirteen songs salute Cahn who was one of the top songwriters of the 20th century. Classics that Cahn co-wrote with Jimmy Van Heusen, such as “Come Fly With Me,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” and “Teach Me Tonight” are included.
“The album coincides with this year’s centennial of both Cahn and Van Heusen and illuminates a musical legacy,” said Tyrell. When asked why he chose to work on a tribute album to the songwriter, Tyrell explains, “Frank Sinatra recorded 87 of his songs, he was nominated for 27 Academy Awards and won four times, but most people don’t know who he was. They only know the songs he wrote.”
In his latest tour to promote the album, Tyrell places emphasis on the importance of songwriters. “Sammy wrote songs for the Rat Pack era. He spoke for that period of pop culture, louder than anyone else did.”
Tyrell will be back at the Catalina Jazz Club in February 2014. I sat down to chat with Tyrell about his latest album and upcoming projects.
Posted on Nov 15, 2013 under Archives, Interviews, Other interesting people, Uncategorized |
The entertaining and scary “Play Dead” is an homage to old séance shows, a modern thrill ride, stunning magical illusions and a dark comedy all in one performance.
Co-written and directed by Teller (the smaller quieter half of Penn & Teller) and co-written and performed by magician Todd Robbins, “Play Dead” is currently running at The Geffen Playhouse through December 15.
Robbins serves as the guide for the evening and acts as a one-man history of serial killers and séances exposing tricks that mediums often use while integrating his own macabre effects.
Spookiness abounds as Robbins launches the show by ingesting a light bulb. At various points in the play the audience is plunged into complete darkness, where luminous specters appear and the audience is surrounded by ethereal sights, sounds and touches of the returning dead.
During the play there is plenty of audience participation. “Each show is unique because different people are chosen as part of the performance,” said Teller.
“Play Dead” was sparked from Teller’s and Robbins’ desire to create a séance based play. It originated as Robbins’ “Dark Deceptions” New York fringe show which evolved into “The Charlatan’s Séance.” Teller saw the play and the two began conversations to rebuild the show. The two ran a series of workshop performances in Las Vegas before heading to New York. “The workshops helped us know how invasive we could make the show without doing actual harm to the audience,” said Robbins.
Both magicians acknowledge the challenge of balancing thrills and humor. “We also knew that we had to make the experience fun. We knew people enjoyed being scared but we wanted to make sure everyone leaves full of joy,” said Teller.
Do they expect LA audiences to differ from audiences in New York? “If you put people side by side in the dark and have luminous towering three dimensional ghosts appearing in their face it doesn’t really matter what region of the country they came from,” said Robbins.
A big part of the play’s success is the ability to mix chills with laughter. Robbins sums up it well, “You are never so alive as when you are scared to death.”
Performances are Tuesday – Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 and 7 PM. Prices range from $57 to $87 and are available in person at the Geffen Playhouse box office, online at www.geffenplayhouse.com or by phone at 310.208.5454.
Clowning around during rehearsals
I sat down with Teller and Robbins in-between their rehearsals to discuss “Play Dead,” magic and their upcoming projects.
Posted on Nov 01, 2013 under Archives, Everything Else |
Royal Palms Resort and Spa
The Royal Palms Resort and Spa recently re-opened their highly acclaimed T. Cook’s restaurant. After a three-month renovation, the restaurant now has a new look and a new chef.
Highlighting Executive Chef Paul McCabe’s creative interpretation of New American cooking and reflecting the Mediterranean-inspired design and architecture of the resort; the restaurant is introducing a new culinary experience for guests.
Chef Paul McCabe
The refreshed T. Cook’s design, led by Haley Balzano, founder and architect of Phoenix-based creative design team Bar Napkin Productions, emphasizes a more vibrant color scheme, authentic design elements, an interactive kitchen, a remodeled private dining room and a glass- enclosed wine and tequila tasting room. New boldly-colored chairs surround rustic wooden tables adding depth and diversity to the new dining room, while iron chandeliers create a sense of intimacy and stimulate an experience of romance. Al fresco dining can also be discovered at T. Cook’s with intimate patios and nooks, including a new private dining element found within the property’s historic Orange Grove.
The Mix Up Bar
Adjacent to the restaurant is the new Mix Up Bar, offering live entertainment, inventive small plates and unique cocktails. The interior design is appointed with dark woods and gold and yellow accents. A new semi-private nook named “The Study” provides a more intimate seating area while the outdoor Mansion Courtyard offers additional al fresco seating.
The Study area at The Mix Up bar
The new menu, created by Executive Chef Paul McCabe, honors classical techniques while utilizing locally-grown and sustainably raised foods. Chef McCabe has established relationships with a wide range of local purveyors, farmers and artisans, including McClendon’s Select, Singh Farms, Noble Bread and Hayden Flour Mills. I had tasted Chef McCabe’s cooking when he was Executive Chef at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar, so I was prepared to have a great meal. Here is what we tasted at T. Cooks.
We started with a nice charcuterie and cheese plate. We had the mini version as we knew we would be getting several courses.
roasted beet salad
Next came the roasted beet salad with caramelized yogurt, pistachio brittle, blue cheese and orange. We liked the combination of salt, savory and creamy flavors.
stone seared foie gras
Since we can no longer order foie gras in California, it was great to be able to have it at T. Cooks. Delicious and my fave of the night. Served on a hot stone with coffee, cherries and a cocoa nib financier.
The tomato fennel risotto was equally amazing, served with fava beans, mushrooms, broccoli rabe and shaved romano. We could have eaten a whole tub of this.
We also loved the corn agnolotti, which was a decadent mix of Maine lobster, chanterelles, roasted corn and truffles. We we are couple of lucky gals, foie gras and truffles in the same night.
scallops and short rib ravioli
Chef McCabe offered a nice twist on surf and turf with his scallops and short rib ravioli dish, served with chanterelles, peach and sea beans.
Our main courses were Steelhead salmon with pole beans, zucchini, sweet and sour plum sauce and a pistachio vinaigrette and the dry aged ribeye with a root vegetable cassoulet, onion jam and marrow butter. We shared these as they both were excellent.
ribeye with root veg cassoulet
Desserts were a perfect finish to a fabulous meal, a dark chocolate pate with pistachio lace and ice cream and smoked caramel and a creamy goat milk panna cotta with wheat berries and a blood orange sauce.
dark chocolate pate
T. Cooks is a wonderful restaurant to enjoy a romantic dinner, celebrate a birthday, anniversary or special occasion, relax for Sunday brunch or enjoy a cocktail in the new lounge. Reservations recommended, call 602.808.0766, located in The Royal Palms Resort and Spa, 5200 East Camelback Road in Phoenix.
Posted on Oct 31, 2013 under Archives, Uncategorized |
Jane Twisden’ (Matthew Floyd Miller) and ‘Lady Enid’ (Jamie Torcellini). Photo by Chelsea Sutton.
The Falcon Theatre is currently playing The Mystery of Irma Vep, written by Obie Award-winner Charles Ludlam, directed by Jenny Sullivan, and starring Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini. It is the second production of the Falcon Theatre’s 2013-2014 Subscription Season.
The Mystery of Irma Vep
The Mystery of Irma Vep is filled with vampires, werewolves, comic transvestites, highbrow literary jokes and lowbrow Egyptian graffiti.
Written in 1984, Irma Vep is the late Charles Ludlam’s most successful horror sendup, a silly compilation of gothic fiction from Jane Eyre, slapstick comedy and fast costume changes. All eight roles, male and female, are played by the two lead actors in a rush of wigs, funny voices and drag acting.
Miller makes his first appearance as Jane Twisden, Mandacrest’s severe-looking housekeeper, while Torcellini first turns up as the gnarly, peg-legged servant Nicodemus. But before you can you say “gender-bending,” Miller transforms into Lord Edgar Hillcrest (Mandacrest’s brooding owner) and, later, into a bloodthirsty intruder. Torcellini, with the flick of a blond wig and a high-pitched girlish giggle, becomes Lord Edgar’s new wife, Lady Enid, followed by an insinuating tour guide when the action moves in Act 2 from Mandacrest to “various places in Egypt.”
The plot has something to do with ancient Egyptian curses, werewolves and a jealous ghost. But it’s mostly an excuse to exercise Ludlam’s high-flown sensibility, complete with bad wigs, ominous organ music, buckets of dry ice, an anatomically correct wolf and other sights gags, all cavorting on a fun-house set design. Double entendres fly fast and furious, and every character seems to harbor a painful secret.
The Mystery of Irma Vep is playing through November 17, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 4 pm, $27 to $39.50, tickets available at www.falcontheatre.com.