Once on this Island opens and Fools auditions at the Westchester Playhouse and A Chorus Line at the Norris Theatre

Ti Moune (Bimei Flores, center) is just a small-village girl sent on a journey by the gods (clockwise from left) Asaka, Mother of the Earth (Jayla Bryant); Papa Ge, Demon of Death (Andre Heimos); Erzulie, Goddess of Love (Maggie Pan); and Agwe, God of Water (Luke Villanueva) in the Kentwood Players production of the Tony Award-winning musical Once on this Island opening May 10 at the Westchester Playhouse. (Photo credit: Gloria Ramirez-Plunkett)

Kentwood Players opens the Tony Award-winning musical Once on this Island with Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Music by Stephen Flaherty, on Friday, May 10 through Saturday, June 8 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles 90045. (No shows over Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26.) The production is directed by Elijah Green, with choreography by Katie Powers-Faulk and musical direction by Elizabeth Bouton Summerer, produced by Alison Boole, Marty Feldman, and Susan Weisbarth for Kentwood Players with rights secured from Music Theatre International, and sponsored by Charles Ortner. Featured in the cast (in alphabetical order) are Deonté Allen, Braelyn Booker, Jayla Bryant, Lola Buckland, Kevin Connors Jr., Bimei Flores, Chloe Hanser, Andre Heimos, Esteban Hurtado, Daniel Matute, Will Nazareno, Maggie Pan, Charisma Smith-Scott, Luke Villanueva, and Narumi Alicia Yuzawa.

Once on this Island tells the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures keep them apart, Ti Moune is guided by the powerful island gods, Erzulie, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Agwe on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. Bursting with Caribbean colors, rhythms and dance, the story transforms the reality of a tropical village devastated by a storm into a fantastical world alive with hope.

Reserved seat tickets are $30, or $26 for seniors and students, available at www.kentwoodplayers.org, by emailing the box office at boxoffice@kentwoodplayers.org, or calling (310) 645-5156. Based on availability, $10 rush tickets may be offered at select performances for those who arrive 30 minutes before curtain. Group rates also available. 

Metro Train riders can take the K Line to Kentwood, exiting at the Westchester/Veterans station at Florence and Hindry, just a short one block walk from the Westchester Playhouse. Riders who show their Metro TAP card when purchasing a full price ticket at the box office will receive a $5 discount for that performance. There are two free parking lots available for drivers: the small lot next to the Westchester Playhouse is reserved for disabled patrons only, and the Hensel Phelps parking lot at 8330 Hindry Avenue (across the street, next to the Metro train tracks) opens an hour before each performance, is locked during performances, and reopens at the end of the show. Look for our parking lot greeter to welcome you. Free street parking is available on 83rd Street and in the adjoining neighborhood, but do not park on Hindry between the Playhouse and Metrolink tracks. Please read all traffic and parking signs carefully.

Visit www.kentwoodplayers.org for more information about Once on this Island, future shows, and upcoming auditions held by director Jeremy Palmer the weekend of May 11-12 for Neil Simon’s Fools, the comic tale of Leon Tolchinsky, an enthusiastic young schoolteacher who arrives in the idyllic Ukrainian village of Kulyenchikov to find the townspeople sweeping dust from the stoops back into their houses and milking upside-down cows to get more cream. Will he be the one to break the curse of chronic stupidity from which the town has been suffering for 200 years? 

Kentwood Players info can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, and at the Westchester Farmer’s Market. Another way to learn more about the group and its members is to attend a free, in-person membership meeting, held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30pm at the Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles 90045. Come on down on May 15 and find out more about the 74-years-old and going strong community theater group and how you can get involved as a volunteer!

Kentwood Players is a non-profit theatre group dedicated to enriching, educating, and entertaining our community through the transformative power of live theatre while creating an environment for inspiring human potential. As a 501C3 organization, donations to Kentwood Players in any amount are always greatly appreciated and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

A Chorus Line examines the lives of seventeen dancers auditioning for a spot in a Broadway musical. Photo credit: Philicia Endelman

A Chorus Line, conceived and originally directed & choreographed by Michael Bennett, with book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and

co-choreographed by Bob Avian, opened on Broadway in 1975. It’s a celebration of those unsung, valiant, over-dedicated, underpaid, and highly trained chorus dancers of Musical Theatre, who back up the star and often make them look more talented than they are. The personal stories shared by those auditioning are based on real Broadway dancers’ stories, as told to fellow dancer and choreographer Michael Bennett, creating a funny, heartbreaking, and refreshingly honest backstage tale.

As Zach (Nathan Madden) gets to know each dancer hoping to get a spot in his next Broadway show, discomfort opens into revelation, confession leads to redemption, and within the bright, outwardly homogenous chorus, the audience begins to see each dancer’s individuality. Among them are 4’10” Connie Wong (Iva Irwin), proud and out Bobby (Kito Garcia), Zach’s ex Cassie (Katie Marshall) who just needs the “Music and the Mirror and the Chance to Dance,” Diana (Katie Flores who shines performing “Nothing” and “What I did for Love,” curvy over-30 Sheila (Kendall Sinclair), Bebe (Natalie Gissel) and Maggie (Bar Daniel) who lead the company with their beautiful harmonies during “At the Ballet,” Mike (Leo Ayala), who took his sister’s place in dance class, saying “I Can Do That,” and Val (statuesque Isabella Olivas), a small-town girl with a brand-new big-town body who dazzles using her new “assets” during “Dance 10, Looks 3.” 

And that is just a sampling of the talented triple-threat performers who added their personal joy of dancing into every moment onstage. And the same artistic excellence applies to the entire technical team, led to brilliance by Director and Choreographer Christine Negherbon, with Music Director Sean Alexander Bart conducting the 12-member orchestra. I urge you not to miss this spectacular production!

Produced by Palos Verdes Performing Arts, performances ofA Chorus Line continue at the Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center Drive in Rolling Hills Estates 90274 through May 5 on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Run time is two hours without an intermission. Tickets run Tier A $100, Tier B $90 and Tier C $50, with a $10 discount for youth on Tiers A and B only. Tickets are available online at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=172143, via email to lindab@pvperformingarts.com, by calling the box office at (310) 544-0403 x 221, or at the on-site box office Tues.-Thurs. from 1-5pm and beginning one hour prior to all shows. Facility/Health Fees: $10 per ticket applies to web orders, phone orders, and box office window orders.