‘Recorded in Hollywood’ now in CC

Smash hit musical “Recorded in Hollywood” will get an all-new production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The press opening is set for July 16.

The musical will star veteran Broadway actor Stu James who will reprise the role of black entrepreneur and music mogul John Dolphin.

With a combination of R&B and rock music styles, “Recorded in Hollywood” tells about the life of Dolphin, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur and civil rights activist who cemented his name in the music business long before Motown.

Written by Matt Donnelly and John’s grandson Jamelle Dolphin, the production features an ensemble of 21 performers, a six-piece live band, 15 original songs by musician and songwriter Andy Cooper and eight covers of songs launched in the famous Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store located on Central Avenue in South Los Angeles.

During its original production last year at the Lillian Theater in Los Angeles, the musical received stellar reviews including a Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice” and a Stage Raw “Pick of the Week.” The musical was also a Stage Raw Award nominee for Musical of the Year and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in the Sunday Los Angeles Times and in the LA Weekly.

Cast members returning from that run include Broadway performer Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King, Hairspray, Mary Poppins) as Percy Ivy; Jenna Gillepsie, who will portray Ruth Dolphin; and ensemble members Franklin Grace, Matthew Lewis Sims, Jr., Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield and Katherine Washington.

New to this production are Wilkie Ferguson III in the role of Jesse Belvin; Thomas Hobson as Sam Cooke; Matt Magnusson as legendary DJ Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg; and Frank Lawson as Los Angeles Sentinel founding publisher Leon Washington, along with ensemble members Ashley Lynette Brown, Caitlin Gallogly, Gabi Hankins, Dylan Hoffinger, Alfred Jackson, Bren Thor Johnson, Ryan Murray, Joël René, Tyler Ruebensaal and Emily Zetterberg.

“The hugely positive response to the 99-seat production energized us to take it to the next level,” says Jamelle Dolphin. “Broadway producer Lou Spisto has come on board, and we’ve held two extensive workshops adding a lot of new talent and reshaping much of the book and a fair amount of the music. Among other things, we want to put more emphasis on my grandfather’s legacy as a driving force behind integrating the Los Angeles music scene in the ‘50s.”

John Dolphin opened his Dolphin’s of Hollywood record shop in 1948, where he helped build the careers of some of the biggest names in music.

“When he realized that no one was going to let him open his store on all-white Hollywood Blvd., he brought Hollywood to Central Avenue,” Jamelle explains. “By naming the store ‘Dolphin’s of Hollywood,’ he was telling the world that he was going to stare discrimination in the face and not blink.”

Dolphin’s of Hollywood soon became the most famous record store in the country, with legendary DJs like Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, Hunter Hancock and Charles Trammel spinning records all night from the front window.

The many great artists whose careers he advanced included Sam Cooke, Jesse Belvin, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Crayton and Major Lance to name a few. A marketing genius, Dolphin was the first to keep his store open 24 hours, and he pioneered the “Buy One, Get One Free” marketing concept.

Four-time NAACP “Best Director” Award winner Denise Dowse returns to the Kirk Douglas production as director, as does Stage Raw Award-nominated choreographer Cassie Crump. The musical director is Abdul Hamid Royal; arrangements are by Kevin Toney and Andrae Alexander; and orchestrations and additional arrangements are by John Gentry Tennyson. (For an interview with Jamelle Dolphin and producer Lou Spisto, see Shari Barrett’s STAGE PAGE on page 5 of this issue.)

“Recorded in Hollywood” opens for press on Saturday, July 16 and continues through Aug. 7, with performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Preview performances will take place on the same schedule, beginning July 8.

Tickets range from $39 – $59. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 820 Washington Blvd, Culver City.

Free parking is located across the street, underneath Culver City City Hall: enter on Duquesne, just south of Culver Blvd.

For reservations and information, call 213-972-4488 or go to www.RecordedInHollywood.com.