Tag Archives: Little Victory Theatre

“Dani Girl” Takes The Little Victory Stage With Intensity And Sweetness

Five area actors take to The Little Victory Stage on Thursday evening for the opening night of Dani Girl, a 90-minute musical about a young girl fighting cancer, whose magical way of seeing the world is both delightful and gripping. Directed and produced by Taylor Wesselman of Domino One Productions, Dani Girl also includes the talents of John Burroughs High School graduate Andrew Orbison as Musical Director.

Dani Girl is a contemporary musical about a 9 year old girl battling cancer,” explained Wesselman. “With the help of her guardian Angel, her new roommate, Marty, and her favorite stuffed teddy bear, she embarks on a magical quest to find her hair. The show is bittersweet and equally hilarious and heartbreaking.”

"Dani Girl" (from left to right) Front row: Andrew Orbison, Matt Severyn, Taylor Wesselman. Back row: Lisa Dyson, Maryanne Burr, Jacob Krech, Michael Shaughnessy. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Dani Girl” (from left to right) Front row: Andrew Orbison, Matt Severyn, Taylor Wesselman. Back row: Lisa Dyson, Maryanne Burr, Jacob Krech, Michael Shaughnessy. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I found this show almost a year ago and was so surprised at how well written it was,” commented Wesselman. “I’m always nervous with new musicals but this one gives me so much hope for musical theatre because to take a topic such as childhood cancer and write a show about it, but more than that, to write a musical is a daring endeavor.”

“I applaud the writers for their creativity and their bravery for tackling this issue and for doing it in such a clever and beautiful way.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Dani is portrayed by actor Maryanne Burr and Jacob Krech plays Marty, while Matt Severyn is Raph, Lisa Dyson is Dani’s Mother and Michael Shaughnessy portrays Dani’s Father and God.

“The cast is incredible, they are absolutely perfectly cast,” added Wesselman. “Each of them were hand picked for the part. It’s so easy to work with actors who are so dedicated to the piece and invested in the story and it has made my job as a first time director a complete dream.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS ’09 graduate Orbison also enlisted the talents of electronic cellist Elmo Zapp, who joins him on the small stage to provide the show’s music.

“I’m so happy to be doing this piece right in my hometown,” commented Orbison. “It’s great to see art thriving in the community that I grew up and live in.”

“This show is a fantastic piece. It will take you through about every emotion you can feel in such a brilliant way.”

“Each of the actors bring so much to the table to help bring these characters to life. To top it all off, they sound fantastic,” Orbison added. “This is a piece that will leave [the audience] with so much to think about in a positive and enlightening way.”

“I started this company as a way to try new things and present new work and I am so proud to have Dani Girl be our first full length show because it encompasses everything the company was made for,” Wesselman went on to say.

“The cast and the creative team have put together something very special and I think more work like Dani Girl needs to be produced because there is an audience that not only wants to see it but needs to see it.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“In college I found a quote that has stayed with me: ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.'”

“Theatre is such a great way to find catharsis, to live vicariously and to find peace in whatever issues may be in your life. There are so many people that have dealt with cancer whether personally or supporting someone who has it and I think a huge word to go along with Dani Girl is the word ‘peace.'”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Dani Girl is a show about finding peace and it truly is a show that’s good for the soul,” Wesselman said.

Tickets are $25 general admission and $20 for students and seniors and are available here. Dani Girl opens Thursday, November 5, at 7:30 p.m. at The Little Victory Theatre located at 3326 W. Victory Boulevard in Burbank.

Dani Girl continues its run on Friday, November 6, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 7, at 3:00 and 7:30 p.m. More information on Domino One Productions can be found here. Ten percent of the show’s proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Cancer Research.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

"Dani Girl" (from left to right) Front row: Matt Severyn. Back row: Lisa Dyson, Maryanne Burr, Jacob Krech, Michael Shaughnessy. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Dani Girl” (from left to right) Front row: Matt Severyn. Back row: Lisa Dyson, Maryanne Burr, Jacob Krech, Michael Shaughnessy. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Road To Damascus Leads To Love

The Road To Damascus at The Little Victory Theatre is the perfect, family-friendly show for all seasons, especially for Easter time. TONY MONACO gives us a wonderfully realized Saul/Paul, whose greatness emerged in a lifelong struggle with his own turbulent emotions.

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus (Bob Walker Photography)

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus (Bob Walker Photography)

As many of you may know, “the road to Damascus” refers to Rabbi Saul of Tarsus’ sudden, spiritual transformation just before he arrived at Damascus (New Testament, Chapter 9 of Acts.) Before his change, Saul was determined to arrest any Christians he found and bring them back to Jerusalem, where they could well be killed for their beliefs. After his change, he was firmly on the road to becoming Saint Paul the Apostle, one of Christianity’s most influential figures.

Tony Monaco had his own “road to Damascus” experience that gave him the strength to turn away from alcohol and drugs. His life-changing experience inspired him to tell the story of Paul the Apostle, toward whom he now had a strong empathy.

Tony Monaco focused all the talent that he had exercised on the Broadway stage and Hollywood film sets: he wrote the book, composed the music, penned the lyrics and fashioned the choreography. As well as direct the musical’s sole actor…himself. As a result, The Road To Damascus displays a unity of vision that is rare even among creative teams that mesh well together.

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as St. Paul (Bob Walker Photography)

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as St. Paul (Bob Walker Photography)

The musical begins with an alcoholic actor singing a soliloquy that mixes hope and despair. (“Damascus Road.”) Back in his dressing room, he’s disconsolate. He can’t remember his opening line. Hating himself, he takes a drink. And then something happens. Drink no longer tempts him. He remembers his lines. And he goes on to play Saul/Paul.

Tony Monaco’s Saul/Paul is compelling both as the ruthless persecutor of Christians pre-Damascus as well as the passionate leader of Christians post-Damascus. One of the ironies of Paul’s life is that he came to experience the anger and wrath toward him as a Christian that he had earlier displayed before other Christians.

Tony Monaco makes the music and settings reveal Paul’s ongoing inner transformation rather than portray the dramatic “wide-screen” event that often punctuated his life (from shipwrecks to large scale riots.) The musical also shows Paul amazed that the Christian community could forgive and embrace him.

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as actor George Spelvin playing both Saul of Tarsus and St. Paul in this one-man musical at The Little Victory Theatre in Burbank (Bob Walker Photography)

Tony Monaco, star of The Road to Damascus, as actor George Spelvin playing both Saul of Tarsus and St. Paul in this one-man musical at The Little Victory Theatre in Burbank (Bob Walker Photography)

For me, an interesting subtext of the play was the tension between religious passion and religious tolerance. The more passionate you are about the truth of a religious belief, the harder it is to be tolerant of those with an opposing belief, as illustrated all too well by Saul of Tarsus.

But then what should be the alternative? Should we trivialize and marginalize religion? It’s easy to advocate religious tolerance if you believe religion contains nothing worth fighting over. This is certainly a convenient stance for any society wanting no distractions from the pursuit of riches and pleasure.  But then we risk trivializing ourselves if tolerance comes at the expense of depth.

Saul’s transformation into Paul offers a better way: leaven your beliefs with love. Can we challenge people without coercing them, out of a spirit of genuine concern rather than a desire to dominate?

A society where one’s beliefs are questioned will be at times uncomfortable. But that is the price of maintaining a society that lives up to Jefferson’s words: “Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is free to combat it.” It is also the price of avoiding the indictment in Revelations 3:15-17:
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (NIV)

Saul/Paul was never lukewarm. And that is perhaps why the person who had been one of Christianity’s greatest foes was not “spat out” but was instead transformed into one of Christianity’s greatest champions.