Allee Willis’ Soul O’ The Day – The Color Purple at the Celebration Theatre

Before I co-wrote The Color Purple musical I had little interest in theatre. I had no desire to see people break out into song, oftentimes seemingly for no reason, and sing in that shrill kind of Broadway singing way, and leave not understanding or enjoying what I saw anyway. But I jumped at the chance to collaborate on TCP because it was such an incredible piece of literature, the most soulful on the planet.

After depriving myself of the genre for a lifetime, once I got the gig I spent a year in every regional theater, dinner theater, high school auditorium, every and any place I could bone up on musicals. Writing The Color Purple, though easily one of the hardest and most intense things I’ve ever undertaken, was also most pleasurable. And in the mere act of writing it I really understood that the theatre was not the stagnant-leftover-from-the-old-century medium I thought it was but, rather, a daredevil medium where you never know what’s going to happen as one actor coughs and it can turn the whole show.

Another thing I learned, as evidenced by the show as it’s currently being performed  at The Celebration Theatre in LA, is that this is a medium in which work can change drastically depending on who stages it. And I saw just exactly why I put up with five years of tears, laughter, compromise, bending so far over backwards I thought my body would split, epiphanies, road blocks and more, I.E. a microcosm of life stuffed into five years of  round-the-clock days, rewrites, and did I mention rewrites?

When the show opened in New York in 2005, we had a cast of 31 actors in the second largest theater on Broadway. On tour, the cast shrunk by a few actors but the stages were/are just as big, the auditoriums even bigger, and the staging was just a slightly skimmed down version from what it was on Broadway. But at the Celebration Theatre I got to see 19 actors stuffed into a 99 seat house, something I couldn’t have imagined working, but it was MINDBLOWING! Not only did everyone do their thing and then some, the intimacy of seeing the show staged for a tiny room with audiences on three sides of the stage worked so well for the piece I can’t tell you!

If you’ve never seen the musical you might think that this is a heavy, depressing couple of hours but ha ha, it’s a comedy, and an incredibly inspiring and uplifting adventure of someone who goes from less than nothing to the other end of the rainbow. If you live in LA I encourage you to see it. It’s here until the end of May.

Here are some photos from opening night at The Celebration Theatre a few weeks ago:

With my TCP collaborator, Stephen Bray:

With LaToya London, Shug Avery in the current production and Nettie in the second National Tour:

With Stephen and Michael A. Shepperd, a fiiiiine Mister indeed!

With Niketa Calame, an hysterical Squeak.

With Kelly Jenrette, a fantastic Nettie:

With Sixx Leah-Patrice Carter, Church soloist, and Lorie Moore, one of the hysterical Church Ladies:

With Harpo a.k.a. Terrance Spencer, and ensemble players Jonathan JT Thompkins and Akula Lyman.

With TCP director Michael Matthews, mo Church Ladies, and Kat Kramer.

With Na’Kia Bell Smith and Janet Washington, excellent young Nettie and Celie.

The opening was star-studded.  Here I am with my ol’ pal, Dana Delany.

I love Wendy Malick!

So excited that Robert Forster was there:

And Sharon Lawrence too!:

With Dana Delany and her Body Of Proof co-star, Nicholas Bishop

Director Michael Matthews, Artistic Director of the Celebration Theatre, JohnMichael Beck and the cast:

Go see The Color Purple and make Allee very happy!

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Categories: Art, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Party, People, Songwriting, The Color Purple, Theater

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Luenell’s Big Birthday Party!

Anyone who doesn’t know my friend Luenell, run to Wikipedia right now. If you ever even have caught a glimpse of her, maybe as the hooker in Borat…,

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch ‘O The Day – Pufnstuffin’ With Sid Krofft

New Year’s Eve, 2011. I’m coming down Sunset Plaza, a really windy road with million dollar homes right above Sunset Blvd. in LA. I’m in my Green Beetle, which is a lean and fast machine.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch ‘O The Day – Oscar-Winning LPs

 


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Allee Willis’ Kitsch ‘O The Day – How One Year Ended and the Next Began

The entertainment portion of the holidays started out on Christmas Eve day at Michael McDonald‘s and me using my iphone for photos. This is a no-no if you’re expecting recognizable lifeforms when you flip the setting so you can see what you’re shooting. The shots come out like those portraits made out of of macaroni and rice. Not the best look for the holidays but here I am with the excessively pixelated Michael and Prudence Fenton:

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – My Early Morning Drive Through Hollywood

Bleary eyed from chasing a friend’s cat through the hills above the Hollywood Bowl all night last night – finally captured I’m happy to say! – I had to get up bone-breakingly early this morning to pick up a keyboard in Hollywood. My eyes were still practically glued shut but there’s so much kitsch along the roadways in this city, I can always deal with a situation as long as I remember to bring my camera. In addition to the above mural painted underneath the 101 on Argyle, here are but a few of the gems that crossed my car and eyeballs as I made my tired trek this morning.

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Categories: Architecture, Art, Celebrity, Film, Forgot to Categorize, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Jukebox Tip Tray and My First Time Singing On Stage In Mannnnny Years…..

Mere days after my first and only album, Childstar, was released on Epic Records in 1974, I walked on stage in front of 10,000 people to open in Boston for folksinger David Bromberg.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – I’m in the New York Times today!

Nice, big, fat story in the Times on me today + 12 photos. Thank you, Bob Morris, for seeking me out (no press agent involved here!) and writing such a heartfelt, spirited, and happily long piece. My house thanks you too (at least the part of it that made the photo)!

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – “Styled In Hollywood” Tootsie Palette

This Tootsie Palette is one of the first things I found in a thrift shop after moving to Hollywood in 1976. I was so excited I could finally have feet like the stars!

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Harlem Nightclub Shaker and My Weekend at Vitello’s

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an avid club-goer. It used to be that I wanted to hear every detail of a record under headphones and didn’t want anyone standing up in front of me or humming along next to me when I went to hear someone sing. But now that MP3s and YouTube have become ubiquitous with fidelity crushed down to the size of an ant I don’t care as much about such things. So this weekend I hit one club for two acts. My only regret is that I didn’t bring my vintage noisemaker shakers along to rattle in front of my talented friends who were up on stage.

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