'Twist - An American Musical': Tamyra Gray as Della with Alaman Diadhiou as Oliver Twist

*“Its gumbo…it’s the best gumbo you’ll ever taste,” said Golden Globe/Emmy Award winning Debbie Allen (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “West Side Story”) about The Pasadena Playhouse production of “Twist – An American Musical,” which she directs and choreographs. “I don’t want to blow it for you I want you to come see it for yourself. We have honored the essence of the story and the character (Oliver Twist) of a young orphan boy. It’s a story of protest of the laws against the poor.”

The musical play “Twist” is now playing at The Pasadena Playhouse in California until July 17, 2011. Set in New Orleans, “Twist” is based on the Charles Dickens classic “Oliver Twist” novel’s treatment version by Tony Award nominee William F. Brown and Tina Tippit. It stars American Idol finalist Tamyra Gray(“Rent”) as Della (known as Nancy in the novel); Alaman Diadhiou as Oliver Twist (and Coco Monroe as Twist in some scenes); Tony Award winner Cleavant Derricks (“Dreamgirls”) as Crazah Chesterfield; Cliff Bemis as “Mr. Prudhomme; Joshua Bolden as Pistol; Pat McRoberts as Lucius Thatcher; Kyle Garvin as Skillet; Ava Gaudet as Angela; Jared Grimes as Roosevelt; Matthew Johnson as Boston; Chase Maxwell as Yancy; Carla Renata as Naomi/Mrs. Beaudreux, and Paul Aguirre as Potlatch.

“After reading…many years ago…I wrote out of pure love. Came back with six songs and four songs are still in the show,” said Tena Clark, Grammy Award winning lyricist, about her work with the music and lyrics of the songs used in the musical “Twist.” She went on to add when questioned about using recording artists in musical plays, “(Though) This is a modern score…I have to get singers to get out their world…you’re in a scene… it’s about the character you are…it’s about staying in the moment.”

The talent in the musical play “Twist” is worthy of a run on Broadway, in fact everyone who saw it, says the same, “see you on Broadway!” I concur, plus with Debbie Allen directing you are only in for a “gumbo” fun.

For more information on The Pasadena Playhouse production of “Twist – Am American Musical,” log onto www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or www.TwistTheMusical.com.

Warner Bros’ New Line Cinema film Horrible Bosses is hilarious from beginning to end, hits theaters July 8, 2011

Fed-up employees meet with Oscar winning Jamie Foxx (left) to talk about getting rid of their 'Horrible Bosses'

*Horrible Bosses, the New Line Cinema presentation of the Rat Entertainment produced film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, is hilarious from beginning to end with its plot to murder the horrible bosses of three “honest” workers. In theaters July 8, 2011, Horrible Bosses stars Jason Bateman (Couples Retreat) as Nick, Charlie Day (Gone the Distance) as Dale and Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass) as Kurt – the stressed out employees.

The film’s cast gets better with the masterful performances of Jennifer Aniston (He’s Just Not Into You) as Dr. Julia Harris, Colin Farrell (Crazy Heart) as Pelllit, Jr. and two-time Oscar Award winner Kevin Spacey as Harken – the “horrible bosses.” The man of many talents Oscar Award winning Jamie Foxx co-stars as Jones is the murder “consultant,” a position close to my heart, which he does an excellent job at too – while trying to keep a straight face. Horrible Bosses had me literally “laughing-out-loud” through the whole movie.

Horrible Bosses follows Nick, a management candidate working 12 hour days while putting up with his self-absorbed boss (Spacey); Dale, a struggling innocent “registered child offender” trying to fight-off the sexual advances of his boss (Aniston), and Kurt, one in line to take over a company, now run by the son of the deceased boss, who bent on sucking the company dry (Farrell), while they plot the demise of the bosses. In comes help, a hustling ex-con, offering a plan for a consultant fee. As you know all plans have their obstacles and pitfalls.

A great summer movie that is sure to easy some stress when you go back to work, Horrible Bosses also co-stars Donald Sutherland (The Mechanic) and Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”).

You can get more information on the New Line Cinema presentation, Horrible Bosses, or to watch the movie trailer log www.HorribleBossesMovie.WarnerBros.com.

The 2011 Gracie Awards Gala brings to light the amazing achievements of women in media

Maria Menounos (left) with Shaun Robinson, who was honored with the Dove Real Beauty Award, both from Access Hollywood at the Gracies Gala - credit Leory Hamilton

*The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), led by its president Erin Fuller, presented its 36th Annual Gracie Awards Gala to honor women in media at the Beverly Hills Hotel recently. The gala consisted of a crowd of the “who’s who” in media. Hosted by Patricia Heaton (“The Middle”), The Gracie Awards Gala honored Shaun Robinson with the Dove Real Beauty Award and Linda Ellerbee with the Gracies Tribute Award.

“It feels good,” Linda Ellerbee said about her Gracies honor. “I’ve done a whole number of things on a number of shows and I’m still here!”

Shaun Robinson, who also received an honor, added that, “Seeing all these dynamic women should be inspiration.”

Entertainment for that evening was Pop/R&B singer Kimberly Locke (“American Idol”) and Pop singer Ashlyne Huff, who is currently on tour with New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. Some of the presenters included Morgan Fairchild, Mayim Bialik (“Big Bang Theory”), Brenda Strong (“Desperate Housewives”), and Tim Daly (“Private Practice”).

Brenda Strong, on her way into the gala, when asked to say a word wanted women in media to know that they shouldn’t “be afraid to use your voice.”

I caught AWM president Erin Fuller while going in and she talked about the organization, “We want to promote women media owners.”

Included on the long list of awardees were Chelsea Handler for E!’s “Chelsea Lately;” Jen Arnold & Bill Klein  for TLC’s “The Little Couple;” Alfre Woodard  for “TNT’s “Delta Blues;” Betty White  for TV Lands’ “Hot in Cleveland;” Katie Couric for “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric;” Martha Stewart  for Omnimedia’s “Martha Stewart Living;” Rosie Perez  for LMC’s “In Plain Sight;” Yvette Nicole Brown  for NBC’s “Community,” and Joan Lunden  for Retirement Living TV’s “Taking Care with Joan Lunden” – just to name a few.

When asked to give women in media advice Gracie Award winner Joan Lunden said, “Find something you love. Find something you are good at…There are so many opportunities…than when I started out.”

The Alliance for Women in Media is the largest-established professional association dedicated to advancing women in media and entertainment. Celebrating its 60th anniversary with its annual Gracies Awards Gala, it continues to educate, advocate and act as a resource for its members – and the industry at large. For more information on the Gracies Awards Gala log onto its website at www.TheGracies.org.