Saturday, February 18, 2017

2016 in Review: Dance, Dance, Dance!

Hi everyone,

It's hard to convince people to join me for dance performances, but they are well worth the price of admission. Continuing my look back at 2016, here's an review of the shows I saw last year.

Bowie & Queen (The Washington Ballet) 
Wandering around the Kennedy Center before seeing a show there, I saw the Washington Ballet's poster for its Bowie & Queen show. The image was of two glammed out ballet dancers striking poses – one was clearly meant to represent David Bowie during his Aladdin Sane days, while the other was obviously meant to be Freddie Mercury. I gasped, took a photo of it, and posted it on Facebook, noting that I was getting a ticket for whatever this was. My sister responded, saying she wanted to go too!

By the time the show came around, David Bowie had died. I'd never been so upset about a famous person dying as I was when he did. I attended a few local tribute concerts before realizing I wasn't enjoying the songs as much as hearing Bowie's own voice sing them. And, it was five months before I was ready to switch my iPod from my Bowie playlist back to shuffle mode. So although this concert was planned well in advance of Bowie's death, I set the bar unfairly and unreasonably high for how good it had to be.

I had some disappointments: First, no ballet dancers were dressed up as David Bowie or Freddie Mercury, as the poster had implied. That's false advertising. Also, the show was not a mix of David Bowie and Queen music, as I had assumed it would be. The first half was a world premiere dance, titled "Dancing in the Street," choreographed by Edward Liang. It focused on Bowie's introspective side and included two obscure 1966 tunes ("Good Morning Girl" and "I'm Not Losing Sleep") along with his 1985 cover with Mick Jagger of "Dancing in the Street."  From David Bowie's vast library of amazing songs, these are the only ones the choreographer chose to use! They were intertwined with live instrumental music by Gabriel Gaffney Smith, which my sister and I enjoyed more than the unfamiliar Bowie songs. My sister even commented that some of the dancers were, at times, a beat behind in their steps.

Now that I have a handle on my grief, I appreciate the Bowie-inspired dance much more and wish I could give it another look. It attempted to tell a story, revealing the thoughtful and deliberate relationship he had with his fans, behind his personas. It was intellectual, concise, and quiet, like the man himself. I think that Bowie would have loved it because his music was used to inspire new art from a completely unexpected perspective. You can't get much better than that.

Here are some highlights from the Bowie side.

Bowie dance highlights courtesy of The Washington Ballet, 2016 

The Queen side of the show – titled "Mercury Half-Life" – was exhilarating and everything I expected the Bowie side to be. It was Queen hit after Queen hit – "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are the Champions," "We Will Rock You," "Under Pressure" (Freddie Mercury's duet with David Bowie) and many more. Choreographed by Trey McIntyre, the dances were exciting, the lights were bright, and the music was loud. That's all I wanted. Trey McIntyre, please create a David Bowie show next!

Here's some solo work from Mercury Half-Life.

Selection of Mercury Half-Life Solos
(Benjamin Everett Behrends, courtesy of NetworkDance, 2013)

DEMO Series (Damien Woetzel)
I went to two shows that were part of the Kennedy Center's DEMO series because of Lil Buck's involvement. I know Lil Buck, a hip-hop "jookin" dancer, from his involvement with the TV show "So You Think You can Dance." He's amazing and can be seen on TV these days in variations of this Apple commercial. Conceived by Damian Woetzel, the DEMO series explores different themes through a variety of art forms.

In April, DEMO: Places offered varied entertaining performances representing arts from around the world, including hip-hop dancing and authentic music from India, Ireland, and China. It also included some original American songs (sung by Kate Davis, who is new to me but I liked her voice and songs) and familiar classical music, like Stravinsky and Bach.

The next day at noon, I attended a Citizen Artist Event that was advertised in the playbill. It was presented by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in collaboration with the Kennedy Center.  The same performers presented a similar free performance outside the museum's front doors, where we sat on the ground in a wide circle to watch them. These are the types of things that make D.C. awesome.

Six months later, DEMO: Heroes focused on performers and mentors who have inspired future generations. I was excited that the first dance noted in the playbill was a tribute to Gene Kelly and other dancers, but my first thought was that the list missed the opportunity to acknowledge the title of the show with a performance of one of David Bowie's signature song, "Heroes." (Yes, I am still sad.) But great minds think alike because Kate Davis kicked off the show performing this song with her acoustic guitar while Lil Buck glided around her. (In fact, this show was named after this song, inspired by the outpouring of tributes paid to artists in 2016, including David Bowie.)

I knew most of the mentors they chose to highlight in this show. Aside from Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, they also paid tribute to dancers Martha Graham, Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr., and George Balanchine, among others. For music, they honored opera singer Renee Fleming, Stevie Wonder and Oscar Peterson (with a piano performance by 12-year-old blind prodigy Matthew Whitaker), and Leonard Cohen (with a performance by the Musicorps Wounded Warrior Band). One of the most poignant pieces was "Vision and Justice," a video collage of photographs set to segments of speeches by John F. Kennedy.

These DEMO series concerts are not only educational but entertaining, offering unexpected combinations of art forms. Prepare to be surprised and inspired! While not the same show I saw, this video is a sampling of what to expect from a DEMO show.

Works in Progress at the Guggenheim: DEMO with Damian Woetzel, 2014

The Blues Project (Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely)
I came back to the Kennedy Center to see The Blues Project by Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely. I was impressed by Michelle Dorrance when I saw her on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier in the year.

This tap-happy show was accompanied by live blues music by Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely, who played behind the dancers. Although I hadn't heard of Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely before, some people in the audience were longtime fans. Now I'm a fan too – I liked their songs and style. This performance introduced some inventive tap moves. I liked the colorful costumes and appreciated that the dancers comprised a diverse group.

Check out this preview to get a taste of the exciting performances in The Blues Project.

The Blues Project: Dorrance Dance and Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely, 2016

Dancers are amazing athletes, and they're energy is contagious. Treat yourself to a show. It's good for your health, and you just might come away from it floating on air, just like them.


Image credits: Bowie & Queen: Jennifer Zmuda, Demo Series: Teresa Wood, and The Blues Project: Christopher Duggan

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2016 in Review: The Shows Must Go On

Hi everyone,

I'm down and out with another cold, but I thought I better muster some energy to get out my 2016 reviews before springtime. In my next few posts, I'll share my memories about some of the best of last year's live entertainment.

Let's start at the theatre! I tend to forget how much I love going to the theatre until I'm there, and then I'm addicted, as you can tell by the length of this post.

I started off the year at the Kennedy Center, seeing Matilda The Musical, based on Roald Dahl's classic children's book about a girl living with horrible self-involved parents. She spends her time lost in books, feeding her imagination. I loved seeing this story through a child's eyes and how the production reflected that with cartoonish characters and colorful sets. I haven't read this book and didn't know what to expect. This show is a fun, heart-warming surprise.

I saw Kinky Boots, also at the Kennedy Center, mainly to hear Cyndi Lauper's musical score. Based on the 2005 British film about a shoe factory owner's switch from making classic men's shoes to footwear for drag queens in order to save the family business, Kinky Boots gives me the same heart-warming feeling as Matilda. Cyndi's great music aside, I love this show's message of resilience and acceptance of all people. By the last show-stopping number, performed by the great J. Harrison Ghee in the lead role of Lola, we were all cheering, ready to try on our own pair of kinky boots.

The title, Urinetown, The Musical, does not appeal to me. After reading the synopsis and learning that it won Tonys for best musical, book, and score, however, I gave it a chance. Suffering from a severe water shortage, city officials ban the use of private toilets, forcing unlikely citizens to take a stand and start a revolution. This hilarious satire, which pokes fun at everything from politics and capitalism to musical comedies themselves, has surprising twists and turns that keep the laughter going.

New to me, the 10-year-old Constellation Theatre Company put on this great show with imaginative direction, sets, choreography, and musical arrangements. Like Matilda and Kinky Boots, this cast offered some exaggerated and memorable performances. Voted Best Theatre Company in 2016 by City Paper and The Washington Post, I look forward to seeing more shows here.

When it was announced that Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed, was closing by the end of July after its short run on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre, my friend and I made an emergency trip to New York to see it. It was worth it! This adaptation tells the true story of the making of the popular 1921 black musical that launched the careers of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, and others. It delves into the interesting lives of its creators and the challenges that ended their successful partnership. Shuffle Along is also a jubilant celebration of tap dancing, with massive musical numbers and inventive choreography by the always-amazing Savion Glover that shook the building with its beats. I wish this show had lasted longer so that more people could learn the fascinating history of this show and revel in this exciting production.

I made another trek to see Jelly's Last Jam, all the way to Virginia's Signature Theatre. My dad bought these tickets but then couldn't attend, so my friend and I were stuck with perfect seats for this musical biography of 1920s jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton. A pioneer of Ragtime music and the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton had a healthy ego, but his fantastic music made up for his exaggerated claims. With a wonderful cast, Signature Theatre's revival of this Tony-winning musical is an immersive experience with seating arranged with tables for a night club setting and some performers, at times, dancing right next to us. As with Shuffle Along, we left the theatre wanting to hear more music and learn more about the fascinating historical figures who created it.

2016 wasn't all about musicals for me. I also saw three brilliant plays at Studio Theatre, thanks to their encouraging $20 deals for neighborhood patrons. First, I saw Constellations, which I had heard about when it was on Broadway, starring Rachel Weisz and Jake Gyllenhaal. This intimate performance is set in a circular space with audience members surrounding it, only a few steps away from the two performers. Marianne and Roland offer glimpses into their relationship through a series of scenes that are sometimes repeated from different perspectives and usually presented out of chronological order. From these vignettes, we learn how they fell in and out of love, the joys and challenges of their relationship, and their present-day circumstances. Somehow it all works with keen direction and impressive performances by Lily Balatincz and Tom Patterson, who – without the help of props – convincingly transitioned from moment to moment, sharing a range of emotions that we all felt.

Next, I saw Moment. This riveting family drama set in Dublin unravels when the reappearance of a long-absent son visiting his mother and sister sparks tragic memories, repressed emotions, and shocking revelations about the cause of the rift. Moment, wonderfully written by Deirdre Kinahan and directed by Ethan McSweeny, leaves an impression on everyone who sees it. Despite its surprising plot twists, the story is universally relatable, exploring the complicated consequences of past mistakes and murky layers to earning forgiveness.

The Object Lesson, created and performed by Geoff Sobelle, offered some much-needed comic relief. Set in a warehouse full of boxes and furniture, audience members were invited to sit on any available couch, chair, or box that allowed for it. This one-man show is a combination of storytelling and stand-up, as Geoff Sobelle discusses his relationship with things and how they affect his relationships with people. Reenacting scenes from life or speaking directly to the audience, he uses inventive techniques to revisit some of life's key moments, including starting out in college, beginning and ending personal relationships, building a career and family, and dealing with old age.

Both funny and poignant, each experience involves various objects that people tend to collect through life, and Geoff Sobelle contemplates the memories attached to them. Sometimes, finding these objects involves climbing up and over boxes (some of which were stacked to the ceiling) or audience members, who were pushed into scenes for some improvisational fun. (We were even offered snacks – French bread and goat cheese – when he mentioned and found them during one of his stories.) This immersive performance was unlike any I'd experienced before. Studio Theatre never lets me down.

All of these performances provided unique experiences, one of the hallmarks of live theatre. You never know what you're going to get, but it can be exhilarating and unforgettable.

Treat yourself to some tickets and see for yourself. I'll probably see you there!


Image copyright credits: Matilda the Musical: Joan Marcus; Kinky Boots: Matthew Murphy; Urinetown: Daniel Schwartz; Shuffle Along: Julieta Cervantes; Jelly's Last Jam: Margot Schulman; Constellations: Igor Dmitry; Moment and The Object Lesson: Allie Dearie

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

George Michael

Hi everyone,

I'm slow in tackling Illustration Friday's drawing topics this year because I've been pondering my tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day. (Thanks again, 2016.) Technically, my tribute could relate to two recent topics, Tape and Sound, because most of my memories of George Michael involve dancing around my room to my Wham! (Fantastic and Make It Big) and Faith cassette tapes. I danced beyond my room when I upgraded to a Discman, which allowed me to tune into Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, wherever I wanted.

MTV introduced me to George Michael. He was pretty and had style. He made great videos, had a fantastic voice, and wrote amazing songs – a vast catalogue of pop perfection with thoughtful messages. While I haven't heard all of his latest work, I grew up listening to Wham! and George Michael's first two solo albums; all those songs are still among my favorites. George Michael was always there for me, offering through his music whatever my mood needed.

In mid-December, I attended the biennial Rainforest Fund charity concert in New York, which had a seasonal/holiday theme. When Sting broke into a cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas," I – and all the girls around me – gasped and started joyfully dancing and singing along in our seats. (George Michael has that effect on all of us!) I secretly hoped that George Michael would make a surprise appearance to finish the song himself. I wondered what he was doing now.  

After I heard the news, I spent the rest of my Christmas vacation reading more about his life. I was reminded of his bravery and humor in the face of life's challenges and whatever unnecessary details the tabloids published about them. I learned about his big-hearted generosity among friends, fans, and strangers alike. And, suddenly, I longed for that ever-present honesty in everything he did. What song should I listen to now, George Michael?

This drawing is a true story. (I've upgraded my Discman to an iPod so don't worry, George Michael, The Kitties and I are still dancing and singing along.) Here, we're listening to "Freedom '90", one of many songs that perfectly captures a moment of honesty and growth in George Michael's life, as he sheds his early pop star image and asks to be accepted for who he really is. We could all use some more of that.

Freedom '17
Freedom '17 (See and hear "Freedom '90" here 

I'll miss this guy – his thoughtfulness, talent, grace, and style. I'll miss him being unapologetically George Michael.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Hi everyone,

Sometime in the middle of 2016, I lost motivation to write on my blog. It's not Drew Barrymore's fault. In fact, I read her book Wildflower immediately after finishing my last book review in August, and I finished it in about a week's time! Let's see what I remember about Wildflower, which has been sitting next to my computer for months, waiting to be reviewed.

When I got the e-mail from Sixth and I Synagogue telling me that Drew Barrymore was coming to town to promote her new book, I gasped and bought my ticket. When the day arrived, I got in line about an hour and half before the doors opened. (I wasn't completely crazy; a few people were ahead of me.) All the while, I wasn't sure why I was so excited about this.

By the end of the event, I had figured it out: I've always wanted to be friends with Drew Barrymore. Apparently, I'm not alone. Our Sixth and I host noted that we've known Drew Barrymore for her whole life, and we all have our favorite Drew Barrymore moments. She's the girl from ET who was born into Hollywood royalty, the free spirit who spontaneously danced on David Letterman's desk and gave him a birthday surprise, the business woman who runs Flower Films and Flower Beauty, and now a wife and mother of two.

It's true that I will watch Ever After and Fever Pitch whenever I find them on TV, but what I love most about Drew is Drew, for being so down to earth despite her famous relatives, for surviving growing up in the spotlight and through her rebellious years, for starting a production company focused on films that empower women, for branching out into business and building a brand, and with the start of her own family, finally finding the personal happiness for which she always seemed to be searching. (Granted, after I finished reading this book, she and her husband got divorced, but it was the friendliest no-fuss divorce I've ever seen. Who else could achieve that but Drew Barrymore?)

I read Wildflower so quickly because this book is just like Drew – warm, welcoming, honest, and funny. While the editor in me initially hated all the incomplete sentences on these pages, I soon realized that these purposeful phrases helped capture Drew's voice, which I could so clearly hear telling these stories.

This memoir is a collection of moments from Drew Barrymore's life that show where she came from, where she's going, and how she's evolved in between. She talks about her parents and deciding as a teen to live on her own without their help, teaching herself from scratch how to be a grown up. She revisits fun road trips and adventures with friends, remembers finding her perfect companion pups, and pays tribute to the many mentors in her life, including her business partner Nancy Juvonen and her ET director Stephen Spielberg. She recalls feeling real purpose after reading a New York Times article about African school children who have no school to go to and does something about it. My favorite chapters are dedicated to her daughters and about her family life because she shares the same uncertainties and joys everyone experiences in new relationships and motherhood.

What you get in Wildflower is a full portrait of a woman we all think we know. She doesn't disappoint in giving what is expected of Drew Barrymore, the bubbly movie star. But you also find a thoughtful, driven private citizen, who is always striving to be a better one and enjoying life as best she can while its happening – just like the rest of us.

Happy reading!


Monday, January 09, 2017

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #51. Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details. Visit the Johnny Kitties page for a full list of Johnny Depp's filmography and links to all previous Johnny Kitties blog posts.]

I'm English, and as an English person, the Alice books are part of your culture. They really are: Your grandparents have it in their house. Your parents have it in their house – both books, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. For me, it was something I grew up with and was incredibly familiar with, so the idea of being able to work in that universe was incredibly appealing.
Director James Bobin on Alice Through the Looking Glass

Where has Alice gone now? 
Recently home from her latest voyage at sea as captain of her father's ship, The Wonder, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds her mother still wishing that she'd conform to society's rules and her ex-suitor threatening to take what's left of her father's legacy. In this wild sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Alice escapes these problems when she is summoned back to Underland and tasked with traveling through time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and his family. With this original story, director James Bobin joins a familiar cast of colorful characters revisiting Wonderland for a new adventure in Alice Through the Looking Glass

What's happening?!
When I heard that Tim Burton was not directing this sequel, I lost a bit of interest in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Of course, I was excited to see Johnny making various appearances to promote the movie, but the commercials for it didn't help me because I couldn't follow the storyline. Then, there was this.... 

The week before the May theatrical release of Alice Through the Looking Glass, three pieces of Johnny-related news came out in quick succession: 
Johnny and his mom,
Betty Sue Palmer in 1999
Source: Pinterest 
  1. Johnny's mother died. Johnny was so close to his mom. While not unexpected considering her long illness, her death was still sad news to hear. 
  2. Johnny's wife Amber Heard filed for divorce. Just before I read this news, I had decided that he and Amber Heard may prove everyone wrong and live a long, happy life together. But I was wrong. 
  3. Amber Heard filed a temporary restraining order request against Johnny, claiming domestic abuse throughout their entire 15-month marriage. About this, I have more to say. 
Amber Heard's restraining order request and accusations shocked, angered, and upset me. Johnny said it was all untrue and, of course, I believed him. Still, at the time, I tried to be impartial and hear and understand what she was saying. This divorce and restraining order drama played out all summer, and against my better judgment and the advice of my wiser friends, I read everything I could get my hands on about it. (Sorry, Johnny, but I was worried about you.) 

All of it is hearsay and opinion from tabloids, lawyers, and third or more distant parties. By the time the divorce settlement was completed in August and Amber rescinded her abuse claims and restraining order request, the public didn't care because they'd already made up their minds about everything within the first week. By then, I was so emotionally drained and distraught that I couldn't really think or talk about this topic coherently. While relieved that the ordeal was over, I didn't feel any better nor did I know anything more since that first week that definitively explained what really happened. I could write a thesis on all the weirdness the proceeded this summer, my many reasonable doubts about these accusations, what I believe might have happened, why I'm supporting Johnny through whatever did happen, and how you can't trust anything you read or see about it in the media, but I don't want to contribute to the endless speculation. (I've already spent too much blog space on this topic.) 

We're never going to know this full story because we don't know Johnny or his ex-wife personally. Whatever happened is their private business and should have stayed that way. I'm still waiting for the Johnny news out there to be more positive and to stop mentioning his ex-wife and everything they did last summer. Beware the perils of celebrity worship, but I have 30 years of evidence that Johnny is a good, thoughtful, non-violent person, and I believe it.

I'm mentioning all of the above only to explain my state of mind when I saw Alice Through the Looking Glass at my local theater that weekend. I felt completely miserable and hoped the movie would cheer me up. It didn't because we learn pretty quickly that the Mad Hatter is sick and dying, and only Alice can save him. I spent the first half of the movie inspecting Johnny's face to see if I could tell whether he was as miserable as I was about his personal problems. (I know this is ridiculous on several levels. It was also fruitless because he's an amazing actor playing someone who is ill and dying.) By the end of this viewing, I concluded that Alice Through the Looking Glass has great special effects and visuals, but the story is lacking. Also, the acting isn't great, despite all of the wonderful, reliable actors in it. I wondered how all these familiar favorites could make such a confusing, half-hearted effort. Then I checked Google with dread for the latest on Johnny's unfolding real-life scandal. This summer was long and hard.  

Let's try this again.
Actually, I really like this movie! When I rented it from Netflix in November and re-watched it with a clearer mind, it was like seeing it for the first time. Serving as producer this time around, Tim Burton has his unmistakable stamp on it, which makes me happy. "I think he left his mark, but at the same time, he didn't put it so far into Tim Burton Land that it was distracting," Johnny says. "Once Tim got a hold of that whole landscape of possibilities, you know that anything is possible." 

Alice Through the Looking Glass is so colorful and fun but has a darker tone at the same time. More importantly, there is a story, and I can follow it! The Mad Hatter is depressed because he misses his family, who he believes survived the Red Queen's epic takeover on Horovendoush Day. Alice, being the only person not originally from Underland, embarks on a journey through time to find his family for him. To do so, she meets time itself (Sasha Baron Cohen) and "borrows" the chronosphere, a time-traveling vessel that takes her to different points in her friends' lives. Alice Through the Looking Glass is a dreamlike journey through Wonderland that introduces strange new characters and sheds new light on the old ones. "It's not the story of the looking glass, the book," Director James Bobbin explains, "but it feels like it could be." 

I stand by my first impression that the costumes, visuals, and special effects are amazing in this film, unlike anything I've seen before. "Wonderland, and Underland, is a place of limitless imagination, so when you meet characters, there's nobody sort of wistfully drawn or sketchy," Anne Hathaway says. "You're meeting full, almost – you know – kind of like live-action cartoons, which is so fun to play." For example, the Red Queen's servants are made of fruits and vegetables. Also, somehow, the filmmakers personified time and captured what traveling through it looks like by creating a character made of and surrounded by timepieces in space that reflects an ocean of memories. Alice Through the Looking Glass is mainly a roller coaster thrill-ride in a time machine with intermittent breaks. 

It's a treat to see different characters in different time periods to learn about their upbringing and different aspects of their personalities. By the end of Alice Through the Looking Glass, you know why the Red Queen has a huge head and a bad attitude. You meet the Mad Hatter in his younger days, when he was known more by his real name, Tarrant Hightopp, and find out why he lost touch with his family in the first place. I wish the movie explored more of these characters' family dramas and histories, but I suppose you can only fit so much into two hours.  
Clearly, my first viewing was so overshadowed by my concern for Johnny that I ignored everyone else! Giving it another look, it's great to get more of Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway as the sparring sisters, the Red Queen and the White Queen. It's wonderful to see how much Alice has changed and grown into an independent woman. And, it's bittersweet to hear Alan Rickman's comforting voice as Absolem. Alan Rickman, who costarred with Johnny in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Streetpassed away early last year; he's always been one of my favorites in so many films.

My favorite thing about Johnny's performance is seeing how not only his expression, but his makeup and hair color changes depending on his emotional state. This happened only a bit in Alice in Wonderland, but it's on full display here. Johnny explains, "The second film explores the personalities of the Hatter, not just that we haven't seen but never expected to see." 

The creativity and sense of imagination in Alice Through the Looking Glass is showcased in so many different ways! Be sure to check it out!

The Kitties form a search party! 
I hoped to capture a portrayal of the Red Queen on this latest visit to Wonderland, but the closest I came was her uninviting heart-shaped castle. Here, the Hatter (Gordon), Alice (Lily), the White Queen (The Mother Kitty), and friends are on the hunt for his the rest of the Hightopp family. They enter the lair to investigate each floor and open every daunting door, hoping not to be foiled by the creepy critters who are watching their every move.
Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film 51. Alice Through the Looking Glass (December 16, 2016)

I hear that change is good. 
Rhonda's Kiss event
November 2016
Despite all of his personal strife, Johnny went on a summer tour with his band Hollywood Vampires and looked as though he was having a good time. He also received the inaugural Rhonda's Kiss Healing and Hope Award for his continual charitable donations for cancer research and patient care. 

In movie news, Johnny left his talent agent Tracey Jacobs at UTA, ending a professional relationship that's lasted through most of his career. I'm not sure what to read into his switch to CAA or what it means, but he then made a surprise appearance in J. K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In fact, he is a central character in this five-film franchise, and I am thrilled! He signed on for a few other films too, including LAbyrinth, costarring Forrest Whitaker, and a remake of Murder on the Orient Expressdirected by Kenneth Branagh. At least he's keeping busy.  

What's next? 
Johnny makes it a family affair, reprising his role as Tusk's Guy LaPointe alongside daughter Lily-Rose in Kevin Smith's teen horror/comedy flick Yoga Hosers.

To find more film reviews and artwork celebrating Johnny Depp's work, visit the Johnny Kitties page

Image credits: All Alice Through the Looking Glass images © Disney Pictures; 1999 Hollywood Star ceremony photo © unknown; Johnny Kitties illustration © Melissa Connolly; Rhonda's Kiss event photo © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Simon, the King of Wheels, is also pretty good at spirals.

Spiral (December 18, 2016)
(Illustration Friday: December 9, 2016)

Happy holidays, everyone! I'll be back in January with more drawings, Johnny Kitties, book reviews, and a look back at some of this year's fun times. See you in the new year!


Sunday, December 18, 2016


Norman is still warming up to this new friend.

Spider (December 4, 2016)

(Illustration Friday: November 18, 2016)