Madonna -
a closet fan
a kate west confession

It's easy to disparage Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie. But go ahead - she won't mind. She's rich and successful and doesn't take any crap from anyone. She enjoys controversy and the spotlight and changing styles as often as her underwear. She works damn hard and whether or not you care (and why should you care about celebrity goings on, the American version of royalty, sort of - there are much more important things to follow on planet earth), she's not going anywhere. Spoiled yes, and self-indulgent certainly, and while I can admire her tenacity, I'm not assigning her more importance than world leaders or policy changers.

Still, her music gets in my head and won't let go. Her voice has the warmth that she can't or won't show. Sure, the lyrics are often inane, but for some reason it gives me strength when I need it and hours of contemplation on road trips. Maybe it's because she works so ferociously on herself, molding her body and spirit to her every whim. I played "Ray of Light" a million and one times during my big break up and it sustained me and kept me going. Her first experimental album will always feel special to me, obligating me to collect each new album with youthful anticipation. She makes great power workout songs too (try "Jump" when going for a run). So many of her songs are go get 'em self respect chats. It's not easy to achieve rock longevity.

I can't explain it. My musical theater friends are appalled that I enjoyed "Evita". I know, I know, she didn't have the range, but did increase her own and as usual, worked her ass off during filming. A fitting role, I thought, and possibly the only acting she ever did well. As I keep telling people, I don't attribute logic to my favorites. I often love bad movies no one else likes (and rightly so - I get why it's bad, but am still a fan, i.e. "Alien 3"). And didn't Linda Hamilton model her "T2" Sarah Connor role after Madge?

Maybe I just like the balance of the sweetness of her vocals with the toughness of her exterior and wish I could emulate that. In spite of growing up without a mother, her single-mindedness got her everything she wanted. I understand musical sophistication - I love old and modern jazz and classical music and have attended scores of operas. I even dig the Kingston Trio. Aside from my sentimental 80's indulgence, Madonna doesn't really fit into my musical library, yet I am fiercely loyal to her Highness. But I would never want to meet her. I'm not advocating all this overexposed oversharing either. In other words, I don't read about her (or anyone's) personal life. I'm just quietly trying to be bad ass for as long as I can and mind my own beeswax.

Besides, she's 5'2", as is Yours Truly. And now she's older, as am I. And still going strong. As am I. So sue me.

More Madonna:

Hard Candy

Confessions on a Dance Floor


American Life

Ray of Light

Madonna - Drowned World Tour 2001

Madonna - Video Collection 1993-99


Bedtime Stories

The Immaculate Collection

I'm Breathless

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James Adomian

Impersonator Extraordinaire
a kate west recommendation

James Adomian is a brilliant young comic who does THE best impersonation of George W I've ever seen. Granted I haven't seen every GW impersonator, but I am fairly confident Adomian is way up there. You heard it here.

Not only does he capture the mannerisms, but he has the pathology of speech down pat. He's an accomplished mimic, a well-trained improviser and not a bad actor to boot. Trained at the world-famous Groundlings (, I doubt there is anything he can't do.

See for yourself. You can catch him on any number of late night shows, including Craig Ferguson and of course YouTube. Look him up on IMDB (and note the prominent "Harold and Kumar" credit)!

James on YouTube:

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Season 6: Opening Night (Thursday, April 24)

"It's the biggest Fries on the Side show ever and all proceeds go to a wonderful cause. That's right, every penny we make goes to charity:water. The best part is that the venue matches our ambitions. We're at the 700 seat Music Box at the Henry Fonda. Tickets went on sale only yesterday and we've already sold an enormous number of them, so be sure to get yours today. As always, for all of your Fries on the Side information, visit our web site.

Hosted by Garrett Morris, Musical Guest The Kin, and a rooftop after party with DJ Brett.

The Music Box @ Henry Fonda - 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angles, CA 90028

Thursday, April 24th @ 8pm - Doors open at 7pm

If you want to see a seating chart and buy tickets there's only one place to go ( LINK TO TICKETS )
Take a closer look at the venue and the show - ( Fries Opener One Sheet PDF )
Have a look at our Season 5 recap video too - ( Season 5 Recap Video ) - a big thank you to Thomas Everman (our video guru) for assembling this.
Host: Garrett Morris
Garrett Morris Garrett Morris is an original Saturday Night Live cast member. He trained at Julliard School of Music and appeared in several Broadway musicals before joining the SNL family. Since then he's appeared in many films and television shows including Different Strokes, The Jeffersons, and most recently, Family Guy. Garrett is the host and founder of the Downtown Comedy Club, declared the official comedy club of LA in 2007 by the mayor of Los Angeles.

The Downtown Comedy Club

Musical Guest: The Kin
The Kin We're incredibly happy to announce that The Kin will be our musical guest at the opening night show. To learn more about this amazing band, we've included some information for those of you who are old and out of the loop...

Brothers Thorry and Isaac Koren are a long way from singing harmonies in the backseat of the car on family trips in their hometown of Adelaide, Australia. The brothers, known simply as The Kin, were following different musical paths until they united to create a song as a wedding present for their father in 2003. Instantly, the brothers knew they'd stumbled upon something amazing. As Isaac said, "After we played together we realized that we couldn't not do this."

The Kin's music has been featured on radio including Q104.3 NY, 104.7 MA, WZBC Boston, WMMR and XM Radio. They've made several notable TV appearances, including FOX's Good Day New York and Fearless Music TV, Backstage with Barry Nolan on Comcast and CBS Saturday Morning's Second Cup Cafe. Their print credits include Billboard, New York Times, BMI, Time Out New York, YRB, Foam and more. Recently, the duo had three of Rise and Fall's songs featured on Lifetime TV's critically acclaimed series, Army Wives.

Besides creating music that spans the globe, the brothers Koren are devoted to creating a better world. They recently began working with, and promoting the efforts of, charity:water (, a non-profit initiative bringing clean water and basic sanitation into impoverished communities throughout Africa and the world. They band raises money through awareness and outreach via their website as well as by performing at organization sponsored events. As of March '08, they have raised over $35,000. The band also works closely with Save Darfur (, an organization aimed at fighting for human rights in the Sudan region."

Presented by Snow Queen Vodka

Regular Season Cast Members:
Shane Elliott, Kenny Stevenson, Dorien Davies, Jeff Huit, Rachel FordPritchett, Sean Pritchett, Chris Pauley, Wes Robertson, Avi Rothman, Barbara Sanders, AJ Schuermann, Anthony Tedesco

Previous review here:

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Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
a kate west review
music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by Hugh Wheeler
directed by John Doyle
at the Ahmanson Theatre
Center Theatre Group
135 North Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012
playing March 11 - April 6, 2008
contact 213-628-2772 or

The much-talked about Tony-award winning new Broadway production of "Sweeney Todd" has arrived in Los Angeles. John Doyle (the same director who brought the new version of Sondheim's "Company" to New York) directs Stephen Sondheim's acclaimed operatic piece about a bloody barber this spring.

Sweeney Todd (played by David Hess), a long-suffering British barber (formerly Benjamin Barker), whose wife and child were cruelly stolen from him by an abusive Judge, returns to London years later to wreak revenge and falls in with his mad match Mrs. Lovett (Judy Kaye). In this take, the Greek-like tragedy is accompanied by stylistic orchestration and staging which, while certainly innovative, tend to take away from the raw emotion and passion of the story's essence.

The cast is strong, especially Lauren Molina as Todd's lost daughter Joanna and Judy Kaye as the nutty meat pie maker Mrs. Lovett, who takes in Todd and inspires him to start slaughtering people ("A Little Priest"). Frustrated over not being able to reach his nemesis the Judge, Todd grows even more reckless ("Epiphany") and it sends him closer and closer to the edge, until the final destruction consumes all. There are some inexplicable casting choices, such as Pirelli, the outrageous rival barber, being played by a woman (Katrina Yaukey), and while it is interesting that every cast member plays a musical instrument, it is also a gimmick that steals some richness from the original piece.

This production plays more like a stylistic concert version of a once-dimensional and multi-layered musical. The actors literally play out to the audience and do not make eye contact with each other or connect, leaving us even more disconnected. The essential horrific barber chair is missing and the blood and gore is also representational, with the actors donning red spattered white jackets when killed and red paint poured from bucket to bucket. The violence is so stylized in fact, that it distills and objectifies the intensity we should feel.

The music is still Sondheim great ("The Ballad of Sweeney Todd", "Johanna", "Green Finch and Linnet Bird") and the voices all Broadway quality, but the stories don't always come across and if you bring a friend who has never seen the show, he/she may be lost. For instance the "By the Sea" number where Lovett conjures up such delightful visions for the disillusioned Todd would read better with more nuance as would sweet Tobias (Edmund Bagnell) reassuring Lovett that nothing will harm her ("Not While I'm Around"). Every relationship, from the dueling barbers ("The Contest") to Anthony (Benjamin Magnuson) pursuing Johanna in "Ah, Miss" and "Kiss Me" and Todd grimacing through "Pretty Women" with the Judge would be better served with more interaction between the players.

The set is one towering piece on the back wall where the actors take props they need from time to time - another stylization, along with a not-too-subtle interchangeable coffin. To those not familiar with the story, it is about retribution and vengeance and how bitterness corrupts the victim more than the aggressor. It is a dark and tragic tale and the opera-like score deserves an epic-like production, in emotion and visual riches, but this modern minimisation diminishes the overall effect and may leave many cold and untouched.

The Original Score:
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979 Original Broadway Cast) Read more!