Don't Mess With The Jesuits!

(or Santa Clara University)

SCU became a target in Glenn Beck's show last night when Beck went into a rant about Reza Aslan '95, "He was a Christian before going into college and colleges are doing a great job of churning people out that are not Christians anymore. It's there that his professors started 'teaching' him...So it's not surprising to me that the elitist, godless professors sway him away from Jesus."

Clearly, he has no clue about our professors, who we are, and what we do. Please support our alum, our professors, and our school by sharing this across your social networks.

We are Jesuit educated, and proud of it!! Read more!

Love, Sex and Missed Connections

a kate west review
directed by Eric Kissack; produced by Lisa Rudin
written by Kenny Stevenson
Official website:

Real-life married couple, the ridiculously talented Kenny Stevenson and Dorien Davies, have worked together a lot, mostly in comedy. So it makes perfect sense that they would make a funny romantic movie together (yup,a rom-com). They play a misguided pair suffering from the pains of recent break-ups in the delightful script by Stevenson, "Love, Sex and Missed Connections." Garnering film festival awards* from all over the country, this charming film stars friends, colleagues and their dog Zoe. And it is obviously a labor of love, judging from the very real chemical sparks between the two stars (and the fun everyone else seems to be having).

Neal (Stevenson) tries hopelessly to bury the nightmare of walking in on his girlfriend having sex with another guy. On their couch. His friends Barry and George try to drag him back to the dating world and get him right back on the 'ol saddle. Since nothing else seems to be working, Neal attempts their plan of responding to missed connections ads, pretending to be the guy lonely girls are searching for in order to take advantage of their disappointment when the real guy doesn't show. It works like a charm and he gets laid - a lot. That is, until he runs into Jane (Davies), who places fake ads to turn the tables on the opposite sex (it's complicated - but so is love, right?)

Funny things happen. Actually, pretty hilarious stuff. Since the cast has a background in comedy, they all know their way around one-liners. Shane Elliot and Alex Enriquez are hilarious as goofballs Barry and George, Avi Rothman is hilarious as friend Allan who sleeps with the ex Christine (Julie Mitchell) and appears naked in Neal's dreams, Stephanie Escajeda and Scott Beehner are hilarious as well-meaning awkward relatives Jillian and Daren, all of the missed connections are hilarious and those one-liners are definitely hilarious. And look out for minor characters with hilariously big encounters. But more than that, the underlying message of overcoming the crippling effects of a broken heart is touching and relatable. The zingers are nice and fun, but as they are supported by a sincere and heartfelt story, everything works. You laugh at the silly and root for the broken.

Director Eric Kissack puts together some nicely edited shots (and he's got the background to back that up) and Kenny Stevenson puts together a nicely written film, eliciting instant sympathy for the characters and holding our attention for the duration (it's 77 minutes, in case you were wondering). Stevenson and Davies shine as the lovelorn soul mates and are lovely to watch and cheer. There is not one wrong note here and the entire cast and crew is to be commended for a job well done and a story well told. Catch it live at a film festival near you, or at least watch it here.

Seriously, look how cute they all are:

*The Awards ... so far:
2013 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival – Best Narrative Feature
2012 Naples International Film Festival – Indie Spirit Award
2012 New Hampshire Film Festival – Audience Award
2012 Hell’s Half Mile Film and Music Festival - Best Of Fest
2012 Big Bear Lakes International Film Festival – Audience Award – Best Feature Film
2012 Traverse City Film Festival – Special Jury Prize – First Time Director
2012 Woods Hole Film Festival – Audience Award Best Comedy Feature
2012 Boston International Film Festival – Indie Spirit Story Line Award
2012 Cleveland International Film Festival – American Independent Award
2012 Indie Spirit Film Festival – Screener’s Choice Award
2012 Cinetopia International Film Festival – Cinetopia Laurels Award
Read more!

One Night With Janis Joplin

a kate west review
created, written, directed  by Randy Johnson
starring Mary Bridget Davies
at the Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101
call (626) 356-PLAY (7529) or click here (
running March 15 – April 21, 2013

Janis Joplin. Queen of Rock and Roll. Legend. Icon. Tragic figure. The young lady with the smokey bluesy voice. Once you heard it, you never, ever forgot it. She was big, as in larger than life, consuming and sharing music with a vibrant passion. It is hard to define a soulful voice of pain. But Joplin had it. As did Billie Holiday. These were voices that spoke to the deep ache within and moved you out of your head and into a world of feeling. Joplin learned from the best voices: Bessie Smith, Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, just to name a few. She destroyed any preconceived notions of female performers and unapologetically put herself smack in the middle of rock and roll history forever. If you never had the luck to hear her in concert, now's your chance.

The Pasadena Playhouse presents "One Night With Janis Joplin", starring Mary Bridget Davies as the volatile and utterly relatable Janis. Accompanied by fine rock and jazz musicians and back-up singers, Davies plays the "live" version of Joplin, up close and personal. Her iconic influences (Smith, James, Simone, Franklin) join her from time to time in the form of Sabrina Elayne Carten, who charges up the stage with dynamic intensity. Talk about playing to the crowd. She'll have you dancing in the aisles.

And then there's Mary Bridget Davies. Don't look for a one-woman show or a straight biography. This is a real and raw version of Janis, giving us a real honest-to-God rock concert, just like in the old days. Davies resurrects the unforgettable Janis, matching her singularly raspy voice  (and clothing) with enormous enthusiasm and tremendous skill. In between (and during) sets, she talks to us, like Janis would, with that iconic growly laugh, telling us that nothing made her feel more alive than being with us, on stage, hearing that spirit-lifting applause. Davies is able to channel the rock star so acutely that for a moment you are transported back to a time where sex, drugs and rock and roll began, way, way back all the way. To the 1960's. Hers is a definitive performance that must not be missed. Not too many shows in Los Angeles need standing ovations (seriously we must stop standing for every single show already) but this one truly does. It demands acknowledgement for the blood, sweat and tears so obviously wrung out (from the past to the present) and given live, just for us. Lucky, lucky us. Randy Johnson is to be commended for his excellent idea of this show, come to life in such big style. You can feel Janis still with us, her presence felt so strongly as Davies sings to the rafters.

No one sang like Janis. She did amazing original music as well as amazing revamping of old music. No one had her kind of broad style either. We all know that Joplin died too young. This performance doesn't speak to that, except to say that Joplin was happiest on stage, singing her heart out, and who can really sustain that depth of need?

"I think I sound like a white chick singing the 'blues'. There was just something about that ache I heard that got me bad. After all, the blues is just a bad woman feeling good." - Janis Joplin (1943-1970)

A sampling of just some of the great classic Joplin songs you will hear:

Bye Bye Baby
Ball and Chain
Piece of My Heart
Me and Bobby McGee
Mercedes Benz

Visit here:

Mary Bridget Davies and Sabrina Elayne Carten in a scene from “One Night With Janis Joplin.” Photo by Janet Macoska. 

Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin. Photo by Jim Cox.

Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin. Photo by Jim Cox. Read more!

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

a kate west review
book, music, lyrics by Rupert Holmes
directed by Scott Ellis
musical direction by Paul Gemignani
choreographed by Warren Carlyle
a Roundabout Theatre Company production
at Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019
running  November 13, 2012 - March 10, 2013
contact (212) 719-1300 or click here

Charles Dickens never finished writing "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". He died instead. So of course the only thing to do was to turn it into a musical and have the audience guess the ending. Right? That was the idea behind Rupert Holmes' vision anyway. Who better for the job than Roundabout Theatre, who sure do like to put on some fun productions (see previous review here). "Drood" (in grand old music hall tradition no less)  is no exception. And what's even more fun? To perform at the most famous former night club in the world, Studio 54. So now you'll want to see the show so you'll be able to say you were there too, just like Andy Warhol. Can't get hipper than that.

Edwin Drood (Stephanie J. Block of "Wicked" fame) is a Victorian gentleman (yep, played by a woman to stir up more mystery) who suddenly disappears. Is he dead? Who killed him? His fiance Rosa (Betsy Wolfe) or his rival John Jasper (Will Chase) or the suspicious eastern foreigners, Helena and Neville Landless (Jessie Mueller and Andy Karl)? The possibilities are endless and there is no shortage of audience participation in figuring it all out, so be forewarned. But don't worry, there is a narrator, the Chairman (Jim Norton), who guides us in the plot and in our reactions, occasionally jumping in and out of characters (as do most of the cast). A cheery Master of Ceremonies, fitting for a raucously bawdy-lite evening.

In this particular production, Chita Rivera was supposed to play Princess Puffer, madame of an underground opium den, but was substituted with Alison Cimmet, who was just fine (her normal role of Violet Balfour went to Jenifer Foote). In fact, the entire ensemble shows us a romping good time and sing some rowdy songs, including "There You Are", "Moonfall", "Ceylon" and "Off to the Races". The first act might drag a bit but the second act involves the spectators even more directly so that will definitely rouse you. The actors are all pros of course, and laughter abounds (unlike the dreary notes of the original novel). Block does a great disgruntled diva.

It's a play-within-a-play, with actors playing actors playing Dickens characters, but mostly talking to us. Some of them will run about the aisles and yes, might drag up an unsuspecting patron of the arts right there on stage. But everyone seems so earnest and of such enthusiastic good cheer that you can't help but be drawn into the fun, especially with all the asides and winks going on. Plus you get to choose the ending. And maybe sing a few notes yourself. A charming production, "Drood" delivers the fun, if not all the answers. But what fun would life be without a little mystery? Read more!

Jonathan Shue - Little City

 a kate west review

Bay Area/Seattle musician Jonathan Shue brings us another low-key folksy lyrical album, perfect for a casual beer night or to ease your traffic-congested commute. Like his previous albums, "In the Valley of Heart's Delight" (EP) / "Chasing Hurricanes" (a kate west review here), "Little City" also features that gentle guitar/harmonica combo. Sure it seeps into country, but only in that modern cool way so popular with the kids these days.

Some of the lyrics might be a bit simpler this time around: "it must feel like a crumbling ceiling, or paint that won't stop peeling, or as lonesome as a loaded gun" (The Story of Your Son) but profundity shows up too: "there's no home at the end of your road" (There's No Home) or "you're my new favorite read ... if you aren't yet through the complete works of you" (The Complete Works of You). Then there's the wistfulness of the traveler in Traveling Song, as if Shue himself were remembering his journey from San Francisco to Seattle. The title track (Little City) also has a few triumphant notes: "I'm just a man once again and you're just a town". 

And like his previous works, this is not a one-time listen. You'll want to play it a few times, easing into the nuances just a little differently each time. By the way, each song and each album shows a stronger and stronger voice. This guy is one to watch (and listen to).

Catch him on iTunes, CDBaby and

Track Listing: 1) Valley of Heart’s Delight; 2) The Story of Your Son; 3) Traveling Song; 4) If Not Today; 5) Little City; 6) You Tell Me; 7) The Complete Works of You; 8) William, Old Man; 9) Grandpa Was A Mystery Man; 10) Super Moon; 11) Thick of It All; 12) There’s No Home; 13) First Night In San Francisco; 14) The Outlook (instrumental). Read more!

Anything Goes

a kate west review
music and lyrics by Cole Porter
directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall
a Roundabout Theatre Company Production
at the Ahmanson Theatre/Center Theatre Group/L.A. Music Center
135 North Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012

contact 213-628-2772 or Center Theatre Group
running November 27, 2012 - January 6, 2013

In the spirit of retro glam so popular these days, the Roundabout Theatre of New York brings the 1930's Cole Porter musical, "Anything Goes" to Los Angeles, home of Hollywood glitz. A match made in Heaven. Hey, if you're in the mood for fast-talking molls and tap dancing, well, everyone, this is the holiday show for you. And yes, Cole Porter's famously romantic music holds up quite well in setting the mood for this fun little jaunt overseas.

Reno (the impossibly perfect Rachel York) has the hots for Billy (smoothly portrayed by Erich Bergen) who pines for Hope (Alex Finke). Throw in the odd gangster (Fred Applegate as the gruffly fun Moonface Martin) and you have madcap misunderstandings and mistaken identities galore. When they all chase each other onto a luxury ship, appropriate hijinks ensue. Guaranteed.

The set design by Derek McLane puts us all right on top of a smooth sailing ocean, with mini cabin scenes and majestic ballrooms and Martin Pakledinaz gives us lovely old time costuming, all of which will have you yearning for the nostalgic. Then there's the music. Each song is more famous than the last, including the title song "Anything Goes", as well as "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", "It's De-lovely" and "Friendship". And right again, you will leave the theater humming at least one of the above. Good singing and even greater dancing transports us to just the right amount of escape, thanks to Kathleen Marshall's professional directing. 

Granted, you may not be completely immersed, but even as you are aware you are watching a show, you'll give in to the broad style and occasional silliness, in spite of yourself. Some of you may even remember the grand Broadway Dame Ethel Merman's turn as Reno, immortalizing many of the tunes. This show is certainly a classic. And there is not much to complain about in this impeccable production. Edward Staudenmayer might be a bit much with his way-over-the-top Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, but then again his character is supposed to be ridiculous. The dancing however, is impeccable and as pictured above, awfully fun to watch. And it just flies by. Entertainment for the whole family. Promise.

So be sure to catch the next voyage, if it happens to land at a theater near you. Read more!