Can Quentin Tarantino and Rumer Willis Save L.A. Theater?
Los Angeles is teeming with actors, so why is the theater so bad?
Before you answer that, head over to West Hollywood, where top actors are breaking legs (metaphorically, of course), with a progressive performance experience that’s reimagining the stage concept. Drawing in cast members like Lindsey Gort and Rumer Willis (and fans like her mom, Demi Moore), For the Record is a unique, postmodern cabaret that has been taking the city by storm with its offbeat shows that merge the two worlds of Hollywood and theater.
“The whole concept is so smart, clever, and wildly entertaining,” says Moore, who attended last Thursday’s premiere of the current show. “Everything about F.T.R. has an element of pure giving and appreciation, starting with the love of the directors to the music and to the memorable characters they have created that gives an incredibly talented group of actors, singers, and musicians an outlet to perform.”
The idea is simple: find a brilliant cast of Hollywood starlets who can sing and act, throw them on stage with handsome, theater-experienced guys and have them re-enact memorable film scenes from a famous Hollywood director. Then ensure the L.A.-specific audience is a major player in the master plan.
“It was important to create a structure that catered to a slightly ADD crowd,” says For the Record co-creator (with Christopher Lloyd Bratten and Anderson Davis), Shane Scheel. “Ultimately, we set the concerts in a non-traditional space, give the audience some cocktails and perform some of the best music and movie moments of all time. Our shows aim to hit a nostalgic core in people and remind them of the first time they experienced a film, like where they were and who they were with.”
The current show run—featuring the films of Quentin Tarantino—includes bold-face names that could bring other theater directors to tears with envy: Tracie Thoms (from Tarantino’s Death Proof), Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars), Lindsay Pearce (Glee), Lindsey Gort (The Carrie Diaries), Ginifer King (Nickelodeon’s The Haunted Hathaways), Reign Morton (General Hospital), Constantine Rousouli (Broadway’s Wicked), Patrick Mulvey (Broadway’s Billy Elliot), Rogelio Douglas Jr. (Broadway’s In the Heights), David St. Louis (Broadway’s Jesus Christ Superstar), and Corbin Reid (Broadway’s American Idiot), among others. These actors not only strengthen their entertaining skills, they often achieve personal endeavors.
“My favorite character to play was Satine from the Baz Lurhmann show,” says King, who’s been a cast member for several years. “I have been in love with that character since the first time I saw Moulin Rouge!—to be able to bring her to life in my own way was a dream come true. I will definitely die a happy girl.” Gort, a.k.a. Samantha Jones on CW’s The Carrie Diaries, was ecstatic when she got the part of Rollergirl, from the Paul Thomas Anderson show. “It was so much fun singing and dancing on roller skates all night. I definitely stepped up my skating game.”
Rumer Willis, who has appeared on Hawaii Five-O and 90210, was cast for the Quentin Tarantino show, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pulp Fiction—which, as it happens, starred her father, Bruce Willis. “Before I was in the show and just came to watch I had no idea how many unbelievably talented actors and singers were doing live performances in L.A.,” she tells us. “I love being part of F.T.R., and I’ve really enjoyed all the characters I’ve played. I think Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction now may be my favorite, because she is such a cool chick.” Two to three actors rotate a role throughout the performance’s run, which ends May, and she switches out with Gort and King.
“This is Rumer’s second show with F.T.R., and I am so proud of her work and commitment,” says Demi Moore, who attended the Thursday premiere. “She has really grown through her experience and gained so much confidence not just from the show but from the community of actors that she is now a part of. Nothing could make me happier than seeing her do something she loves.”
For The Record has garnered a celebrity following, whether audience members have friends or relatives in the show or not. Many of the directors who have been featured have come to support the show, including Gus Van Sant, Baz Lurhmann and Quentin Tarantino, who attended the show’s opening weekend. Actors like Dylan McDermott, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tobey Maguire, Ed Helms, and Megan Hilty have all given love to F.T.R., and more are expected with the new location at DBA, a club that has attracted A-listers like Miley Cyrus, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Adrien Grenier.
While theater may be dead in L.A., For The Record is still a beating pulse. And, for the record, it can help your career. “From doing the show, I was discovered by a manager, an amazing team of agents, casting directors, producers,” says Gort. “Even my boyfriend and I met at a show.”
This article was published by Vanity Fair. Feature photo of Lindsay Gort performing in For The Record by Rony Alwin.