ACE RIOT STAGE 889

Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Greggory Moore

0

RIOTstage: Building a Theatrical Rock ‘n’ Roll Future in the LBC

Photo: Josh Fischel, center, and the cast of “The Brit” (credit: Hadrian Suciu)

It was originally conceived solely as a theatre company. But founder Josh Fischel’s increasing immersion within Long Beach’s strong music scene led him to broaden RIOTstage’s mission. Still in its nascence, RIOTstage is now “an entertainment group on a mission to attract an eclectic new generation” through “high-quality, provocative, imaginative and eclectic concerts, theatre pieces, intimate evenings, and day-long festivals.”

This kind of thing costs money, of course, so RIOTstage’s first events are doubling as fundraisers to help set up RIOTstage’s first full-blown production: Tommy, slated for fall 2014.

RIOTstage’s inaugural event, “The Storyteller,” was a one-night-only affair last March. Featuring an impressive array of local music talent in ad hoc combinations performing narrative-centered material. Three hundred seats sold at $40 per ticket, with patrons walking away telling tales of wacky animal costumes and the full-blown rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that closed the show. The demand for the sort of spectacle RIOTstage is serving up was evident.

This time around Fischel thought doubling up would be twice as nice. Thus comes “The Brit,” which takes over Long Beach’s EXPO Arts Center on December 13 and 14. Tix are down to $25 per seat for a show whose first act will feature songs by The Clash, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Queen, Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, et al.—a mere prelude to the front-to-back run-through of Abbey Road that will happen after intermission.

There will also be a more elaborate visual component this time around, with video projections ranging from footage of punk riots and Beatlemania to psychedelic atmospherics to digital fish marionettes during “Octopus’s Garden” and animation that will bring to life the tale of “Mean Mr. Mustard”.

It’s all part of RIOTstage’s mission to “bring the ruckus” to theatre in Long Beach. And even though this is a city whose institutional support traditionally goes to mainstream work. Fischel thinks a shift in Long Beach’s power centers toward a younger, hipper demographic bodes well for what RIOTstage is offering.

“There is definitely an audience in this town that will love the diversity in our art and really connect to what we’re doing,” Fischel says. “There’s so many young, up-and-coming business owners that could really be drawn to RIOTstage and the desire to bring something that enriches Long Beach. We need to build a tradition where people trust that every time they see a RIOTstage gig, it will be entertaining, different and, like, really rock.”

Ellen Warkentine, a musical mainstay in Long Beach and one of RIOTstage’s musical directors, first worked with Fischel on “The Storyteller” and was mightily impressed with both Fischel’s vision and the talent he pulled together to realize it.

“The talent and the diverse musical background of the RIOTStage performers makes this group particularly unique and exciting,” she says. “Working with this group—and particularly with Josh—has been an incredible experience. Josh had specific visions for each song in ‘The Storyteller,’ staging scenes to bring out the theatricality in each song. He brings out the theatre in the rock and the rock in the theatre.”

Fischel’s journey to RIOTstage started out with a different destination in mind: Broadway. After attending United States International University on a theatre scholarship (he roomed with Emmy-winner Thorsten Kaye, with Jamie Foxx lodged upstairs (“He taught me how to play piano and sing falsetto,” Fischel says), he moved to NYC but quickly soured on pursuing a theatre career. He started a band and took film classes, which serendipitously led to his shooting live shows music videos for Sublime, who eventually hired him as their videographer for the 1995 Warped Tour.

Two years later Fischel found himself disillusioned with the corporate aspect of the music industry. A move to Long Beach followed, as did extensive touring (48 states, plus Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) with the band Bargain Music. Suddenly it was 10 years later, and Fischel—now married and on the far side of 40—wanted a different kind of life and wondered whether he could somehow align his various desires.

Fischel and his wife took trips to NYC and London. Ingesting a heavy dose of theatre along the way, he found himself longing for a taste of something outside of the status quo.

“Some of the plays were good, some not so much,” he recalls. “In London I wanted to see something unusual, [something] I’d never seen before. And I found this songwriter/puppeteer named Matthew Robins and his show Flyboy Is Alone Again This Christmas. It was mind-blowing.”

Fischel returned with two friends “who’d never seen a play in their lives” and says they were completely blown away.

“It started to make me think about how so many people who don’t go see theatre might if they knew there was stuff like this out there,” Fischel says. “They grow up seeing, you know, Oklahoma! in high school or something. I’m not dissing all that kind of thing. There’s a time and place for it. But it’s definitely not where my head’s at.”

Fischel reasons that even many of the people who can afford to cough up $150 a ticket for a Broadway show wouldn’t want to for the likes of Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera.

“But there’s so much out there,” he says. “If you present it in a different way, incorporating something that’s already too familiar to them—like rock and roll—then maybe you bring a new audience to theatre. And it needs it, because theatre is dying. […] The idea behind RIOTstage is to create high-quality, at least semi-affordable theatrical entertainment that more people can relate to.”

Money, of course, is a harsh reality in the world of theatre, especially in a city where even established theatre companies say they cannot recoup their costs solely by way of ticket sales. Warkentine, the force behind recent live scores for The Artist and Nosferatu, knows a thing or two about the need to resort to outside fundraising.

“Last year I had the wild adventure of co-producing [the original musical] LOLPERA at the Hollywood and New York Fringe Festivals, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the community at fundraisers,” she says. “In order to fully bring the RIOTStage vision to life, we need the support of ruckus-ready audiences.”

Fischel’s determination to pay his artists a fair wage while keeping ticket prices relatively low makes the math even trickier.

“I’ve been an artist for my entire life,” Fischel says, “[and] I’ve seen a lot of exploitation [of artists]. People I’ve worked for in the past [have said things like], ‘I know it’s eight weeks of your time, but we can only pay you $700. But it’s really a good part for you!’ You sign on, then you go to the cast party, and the producer’s living in a $5 million house!”

Not that anyone’s going to get rich from RIOTstage. But the draw for each performer is Fischel’s vision and the all-star lineup he’s assembled. Jon Zell, co-founder of the musical collaborative MOVE (featured at BuskerFest in August), typifies the talented mutual-admiration society that is RIOTstage.

“Ellen Warkentine was the one who invited me to audition [for 'The Storyteller'], so I knew it would be a serious deal,” he says. “But when I heard about the other musicians who were there, I just really hoped I was going to make the grade. […] My experience working the RIOTstage has really been life-changing. Playing with so many amazing people has really pushed me professionally.”

“There’s a lot of untapped talent in Long Beach, a lot of people who just aren’t getting seen or heard,” says Fischel. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to create RIOTstage. […] Let’s face it: most artists are not good businessmen. I’m not saying I think I’m necessarily a good businessman, but I’m a good organizer and a good motivator. There is so much talent around here—it just needs to be harnessed. I’m not saying I’m necessarily the guy to do that, but I’m definitely going to be one of the guys.”

RIOTstage’s second production, “The Brit,” takes place at the EXPO Arts Center (4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach 90807) on December 13 and 14, 2013. To purchase tickets and to find out more about RIOTstage, go to riotstagelb.com.

[Note: The author has a small, non-compensated role in "The Brit."]

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

Trapped within in the ironic predicament of wanting to know everything (more or less) while believing it may not be possible really to know anything at all, Greggory Moore is nonetheless dedicated to a life of study, be it of books, people, nature, or that slippery phenomenon we call the self. And from time to time he feels impelled to write a little something. He lives in a historic landmark downtown and holds down a variety of word-related jobs. HIs work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the OC Weekly, The District Weekly, the Long Beach Post, Daily Kos, and GreaterLongBeach.com. His novel THE USE OF REGRET was published in 2011. To be notified when a new Greggory Moore piece is published, send an e-mail to GreadersLB@yahoo.com.



Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑
  • Like Us On Facebook!

  • The Guide to Fine Dining

    The Guide to Fine Dining
  • Calendar

    May 2015
    S M T W T F S
    26

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: CommunityWalk Cabrillo

    Category: ArtOpen Studios at Angels Gate

    Category: ArtQuilt Show

    Category: CommunityQuilt Show

    Category: ArtLos Angeles Artists Propose Solutions to Human Trafficking Through Art

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentSuburban Showgirl

    Category: ArtLA Philharmonic

    Category: EntertainmentLos Angeles Philharmonic

    Category: CommunityAbilities Night

    Category: EntertainmentOil Boom, Sir Madam, the South Hollows

    27

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    28

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    29

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    30

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: TheaterPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    1

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: ArtBach’s Lunchtime Recital

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterHP Lovecraft Film Festival San Pedro

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentTadic, Manring, Garcia

    Category: EntertainmentClive Farrington

    2

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: CommunityFeria de Dominguez Adobe Brunch and Tea

    Category: CommunityFriend Fest

    Category: Community5th Annual Fashion Extravaganza

    Category: TheaterHP Lovecraft Film Festival San Pedro

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentScott Henderson Trio

    3

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityTarget Free Sundays Cinco de Mayo Festival

    Category: CommunityBully Prevention Extravaganza

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentElizabeth Pitcairn & Louise Thomas

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: TheaterHP Lovecraft Film Festival San Pedro

    4

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    5

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    6

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: ArtMeet the Grunion

    7

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: ArtGabriel Figueroa: The Collection

    Category: ArtVisualizations: ​Art and Science​

    Category: ArtVisualizations: ​Art and Science​

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentKlezmer Juice

    8

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterReel Rock Films: Don’t Look Back (1967)

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    9

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityGuided Nature Walk at White Point Nature Preserve

    Category: EntertainmentMusic Under the Guns

    Category: EntertainmentJosh Nelson

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentAdal Ramones Tour Monologues

    Category: EntertainmentFrank Unzueta’s Jazz Trio

    10

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentFred Schreuders Talk Story Trio

    11

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    12

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    13

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    14

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: TheaterThe Iron Giant

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    15

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: CommunityBarley Forge Tap Attack

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentDick Weller Trio

    Category: EntertainmentThe Good Foot!

    16

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityThird Annual Tour de Carson

    Category: CommunityExplore Anacapa Island

    Category: CommunityImpressions Family Nature, Art Workshop

    Category: CommunityThe Amazing Race: Long Beach in Lincoln Park

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentTizer Quartet

    Category: EntertainmentFartbarf, Kim & The Created

    17

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: Community5k Lupus Awareness Walk

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentThe Orchestre Surreal

    Category: EntertainmentPrism Tats and Fernweh

    18

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityToastmaster’s Open House

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    19

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    20

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    21

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    22

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: CommunityPOLAHS 4th Annual Green Festival

    Category: EntertainmentJeff Hamilton Presents Akiko with Graham Dechter

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    23

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: EntertainmentGrupo Folklorico Orgullo Mexicano

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentAlan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Darek Oles

    24

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    25

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    26

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    27

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: EntertainmentNeutral Milk Hotel

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    28

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    29

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentDon Rigsby Bluegrass

    Category: EntertainmentMissing Persons Featuring Dale Bozzio

    Category: EntertainmentThe Syncopaths

    30

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: CommunityLong Beach Human Library

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: ArtVisualizations in Art and Science

    Category: ArtHouse of MOLAA: Art + Fashion + Culture

    Category: EntertainmentHydrogen Jukebox

    Category: EntertainmentZhena Folk Chorus

    31

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtLong Beach Museum of Art Auction XVI

    Category: Community5th Annual Spring Garden Tour and Wine Tasting

    Category: EntertainmentClay Jenkins Ensemble

    1

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    2

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    3

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    4

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: CommunityNight at the Aquarium

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    5

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: CommunityHidden in Plain Sight: Day of Remembrance of Those Lost to Trafficking

    Category: EntertainmentDead Man’s Party

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: EntertainmentL.A.vation U2 Tribute Band

    Category: EntertainmentTaiko Center of LA

    6

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: CommunityFiesta Corazón del Puerto

    Category: EntertainmentHydrogen Jukebox

    Category: CommunityPacific Islander Festival

  • Take a Trip to Havana

    Take a Trip to Havana
  • Join the RLn Network

    Subscribe Today:


    Options


  • Get Home Delivery!

    Get Home Delivery!
  • Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy

    Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy