The Pulse of Entertainment:
Wendy Robinson's AGC presents ‘Our West Side Story' in Los Angeles May 18 & 19, 2019
in The Little Theatre and BT ALC Big Band Rings True on ‘The Search for
"It's a milestone for us after 22 years," said actress Wendy Raquel
Robinson ("The Game") about the musical production to be presented May 18 & 19, 2019 in the Little Theatre in
Los Angeles. A production of her Amazing Grace Conservatory (AGC) called "Our Westside Story."
It is a slight twist of the Broadway hit "West Side Story." It features AGC students from their 1999 and 2010 "West
Side Story" productions, Alfred Jackson and Gerald Evans, as directors. "Alumni
are directing and producing. Full circle from students to staff..."
Jackson is an entertainment phenomenon who has written and produced music for
the television show "Ally McBeal," toured with such worldwide productions as
"Solid Gold Motown," "Rent" and "Glee" and choreographed for the musical
"Sarafina," which garnered him a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Evans' career is just as phenomenal performing
in such musical productions as "Sister Act 2", "The Grinch," and Westside
The "West Side Story" Harlem saga is a love story
taking place in the 1950's about a boy and girl on opposite sides of a turf war between
two gangs who fall deeply in love. The AGC "Our West Side Story" on Saturday May 18th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday
May 19th at 6 p.m. is basically the same as the original musical with a remix of the hit
song "This is America." For the younger audience there is a production with
another twist "Our Side of the Story" Sunday May 19th at 3 p.m. That twist is
on the content which focuses on bullying and has a current day dance battle scene.
is for younger audience, 8 - 12. has more musical content," Wendy pointed out. "It deals
with bullying, the power of words and self-esteem...which is more impactful today. We
didn't have social media. We had the classroom and the play ground. They have cyber bullying."
Robinson said that even the ending in this version has changed, where in the
original the boy dies at the end, in this version he lives.
"We wanted to show that issues can be resolved,"
AGC was also founded by the late Tracy Lamar Coley ("Martin,"
"The Jamie Foxx Show"). Robinson serves as Executive Director. Launched in 1995
the Conservatory enrolled 75 young actors its first year and cast them in productions
at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
"Our Westside Story," presented by
Amazing Grace Conservatory and the Los Angeles Southwest College Department of Arts and Humanities, will be held at
the Little Theatre located on the Los Angeles Southwest College campus. www.AmazingGraceConservatory.org
"Every time we play it's a big hit, it's a festival," said Alex Lee-Clark, co-founder of the 19 piece band called
BT ALC Big Band based in Boston, which just released its fourth album,
"The Search For Peace." "Like any big time city it's a small town...you
get called for weddings, you end up calling all your friends."
Trumpeter Alex, and band co-founder trombonist
Brian Thomas, friends for this project include Peter Levesque, Jared Sims, Mike Tucker,
Ben Whiting and Tucker Antell on saxophone; Benjamin Griffin, Pete Funelli and Angel Subero on trombone;
Yaure Muniz, Mark Berney and Doug Olsen on trumpet; Steve Fell, Jeffrey Lockhart on guitar; Sam Gilman
on the organ; Darby Wolf on clavinet and piano; Ted Sullivan on drums, and Ernesto Diaz
on percussion. Collectively they merge the big band era sound with the current Smooth
Jazz genre, with a Boston twist.
"We decided there weren't any big bands
that are big in Boston," Alex said about why he formed the 19 piece band with Brian. "We went to school together.
We met at a placement test exam to get our Masters. We knew a lot of the same people."
The "In Search for Peace" (Ropeadope Records) album is produced by
"This is the first one we've done with Alan Evans,"
Lee-Clark said. "He's a brilliant recording engineer. He did great research."
The research was on
big bands because the pair wanted to combine their traditional big band funk sound with Jazz and I believe
they successfully did that.
My favorite cuts on the project include #2 "Dance,"
written by Alex, because the guitar brings that funky big band grove I like that seemed
to make the horns jump and I also love the way the percussion gives it that African-drum
feel. I also like the title track #4 "The Search for Peace," written by Alex, because
it sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a love story that changes into an almost Latin Jazz feel, then ends
with comfort that only Smooth Jazz can bring. I also like #5 "Tune For Lou,"
written by Brian, because the organ, played by Sam Gilman, goes completely off followed
by that traditional big band sound from the 60s that I'm use to.
started off with traditional big band...like Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones. That's pretty standard," Alex pointed
out about how their music morphed into what it is today. "I grew up playing with
those types of groups."
BT ALC Big Band has successfully merged that traditional big band funky sound with
today's Smooth Jazz flavor on their newest album release "In Search For Peace."
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership
of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public
Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is
Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: "Uplifting Minds II," a Free Entertainment Conference held annually in Baltimore (Saturday
April 20, 2019), in partnership with Security Square Mall and The Baltimore Times
and Los Angeles (November/TBD). Offering an Entertainment Business panel and a talent
showcase and competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) with over $15,000 valued
in prizes for each category. www.UpliftingMinds2.com.