Archived entries for


The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s
Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center
and Standout Productions



Saturday, June 13 at 8pm

Karen WilliamsThe Los Angeles LGBT Center and StandOut Productions are proud to present comic master and inspirational speaker Karen Williams for a special, one-night-only appearance on Saturday, June 13 at 8pm at the Center’s Renberg Theatre, riding the crest of LA’s Pride weekend.

Los Angeles has waited a long time for the return of the celebrated Karen Williams, one of the brightest lights on the comedy circuit today. Armed with her ‘healing with humor’ philosophy, Williams is a modern-day alchemist whose audiences revel in her cathartic laughter and whose peers consider her a comic’s comic. Curve Magazine calls Karen Williams “A laugh riot!,” and the Sydney Morning Herald proclaims her to be ” … ferociously funny with perfect pace, timing, and structure.”

Williams graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland State University with a personally-designed major in “Humor and Healing.” Earning a Master of Education degree from CSU’s Adult Learning & Development program, Williams has taught Stand-Up Comedy in the Dramatic Arts Department of Cleveland State University.

Net proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the full range of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s free and low-cost programs and services. General admission tickets are $20. VIP tickets are available for $40 and include preferred seating, a signed DVD, and a post-performance reception with Ms. Williams. All seats may be purchased online at or by phone at (323) 860-7300.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre is located at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood. Free onsite parking is available.

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Carol Wins! (

Carol CookCarole Cook performs at the 31st Annual S.T.A.G.E. Aids Benefit (Photo: Chris Kane)

Carole Wins!

By Ken Werther

It all began on a Monday night in October 1984, and I was there. The newly formed Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) presented An Evening of Leonard Bernstein at the historic Variety Arts Theatre in downtown LA. The admission price — a $10 donation or groceries for the fledgling food bank. A previously unknown disease had reared its ugly head. AIDS was unknown. Mysterious. Deadly. Something had to be done.

Now the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world, S.T.A.G.E. celebrates its 31st birthday on May 9 with To Broadway, From Hollywood With Love at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Focusing on songs from Broadway shows that began as Hollywood feature films, the evening will include a costume cavalcade showcasing original wardrobe from classic Broadway productions.

Through the years, the best of the best in musical composers and lyricists have been honored and a veritable who’s who of musical performers have participated. Directed by David Galligan for the 31st year in a row and with musical direction by Brad Ellis, the evening will feature performances by a veritable who’s who of musical performers, all donating their time and talents. The inimitable Carole Cook will perform for the 31st year. I have attended 30 out of 31 shows  — Carole has only beaten me by one!

S.T.A.G.E is happening on May 9 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. To purchase tickets and reserve seats, click here.

Ready for Motown! (

Motown 4 Motown 3 Motown 2 Motown 1
Photo 1: Krisha Marcano (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross), and Trisha Jeffrey (Mary Wilson) in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL (Photo: Joan Marcus), Photo 2: Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye and MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour cast (Photo: Joan Marcus), Photo 3: The Temptations MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (Photo: Joan Marcus), Photo 4: Reed L Shannon as Michael Jackson (center) with the Jackson 5 MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (Photo: Joan Marcus)


By Ken Werther
Photos By Joan Marcus

Get Ready Los Angeles! Here comes Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Tammi Terrell, Edwin Starr, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Jackson Five… all on the same stage! MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is the true story of the legendary sound that first hit the airwaves in 1959 and went on to change American culture forever. The National Tour of this smash hit Broadway show hits the Pantages Theatre this month and charts Motown founder Berry Gordy’s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul.

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL tells the true American Dream story behind the hits as the Motown stable of stars fought against the odds, shattered barriers, and shaped our lives. The critics have called the show “stunning,” “jubilant,” “exhilarating,” “thrilling,” “irresistible,” “electrifying,” and “a blockbuster.” Time Out New York raved, “It sets the theatre on fire!” How else could you possibly describe a theatre experience that highlights such legendary songs as “My Girl,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “War,” “What’s Going On,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “I Want You Back,” “Stop! In The Name of Love,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “Get Ready,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?!” The show is jam packed with 40 in all. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is based on Berry Gordy’s book “To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.” Opening on Broadway on April 14, 2013, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL played 738 performances before closing in January of this year.

Motown (the record company) was founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. on January 12, 1959, in Detroit, Michigan. During the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiary labels (including Tamla, Gordy, and Soul) were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as The Motown Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. Motown achieved spectacular success for a small record company — 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart between 1960 and 1969. Having coined the slogan The Sound of Young America, Motown’s acts enjoyed widespread popularity among black and white audiences alike. Of Motown’s cultural impact, the legendary Smokey Robinson said, “Into the ’60s, I was still not of a frame of mind that we were not only making music, we were making history. But I did recognize the impact because acts were going all over the world at that time. I recognized the bridges that we crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized it because I lived it. I would go to the South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated. Then they started to get the Motown music and we would go back and the audiences were integrated and the kids were dancing together and holding hands.”

Through the years, a virtual treasure trove of artists have recorded for Motown. In addition to the acts already mentioned here, they include Mary Wells, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, The Spinners, Jimmy Ruffin, Shorty Long, The Originals, Rare Earth, Lionel Richie, The Commodores, Brian McKnight, Erykah Badu, DeBarge, Rick James, Teena Marie, The Dazz Band, Boyz II Men. The list goes on, and on, and on.

My favorite personal Motown memory — I saw Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1969  during their farewell tour. The group had become Motown’s most successful act and is to this day America’s most successful vocal group as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. I paid $5.50 for my ticket, and the opening act was Stevie Wonder! The following week, at the same venue, The Temptations headlined and the opening act was Gladys Knight and the Pips! Admission was the same $5.50, but I decided not to spend the money. What could I have been thinking?! The Sound of Young America is alive and well in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL plays the Pantages Theatre through June 7.