Why Sarah Hyland and Rumer Willis Are Playing The Rockwell for Free
The Los Feliz Dinner Theatre also features Perez Hilton and 'Gone Girl' actress Missi Pyle
It’s venue that has seen the likes of Adam Levine, Kristen Bell, Adam Shankman, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Bri Cuoco, Hunter Parrish and Wednesday night jazz with Jeff Goldblum. No, it’s not The Pantages or the Disney Concert Hall, or even the Hollywood Bowl. It’s The Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz where Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) will be starring in a musical parody of Scream, costarring Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Nicole Parker (Madtv).
Playing on alternate nights is Los Feliz, 90027, a mixed media (live and filmed), soap opera spoof set among the staff of the Rockwell starring Perez Hilton as a casting director and Rumer Willis as a waitress/actress caught in a love triangle.
“When I first heard the idea I thought it might be fun to have something to work on in between other jobs,” Willis, tells The Hollywood Reporter. She staged her For the Record: Tarantino, a live cabaret mash-up set to film soundtracks, at the Rockwell on a regular basis before moving to DBA in West Hollywood. “More and more people are starting to accept and enjoy being part of live theater. I think that’s kind of an amazing thing.”
It’s not for money; no one gets paid. It’s not for exposure; it’s a limited audience. It’s just for fun, according to Hyland who was part of Shankman’s production of Hair last summer at the Hollywood Bowl. The experience reminded her how much she missed doing musical theater. “It has always been who I am and I found that I had lost a bit of myself that I wanted back,” Hyland said in an email. “I have a couple of friends who have done shows at the Rockwell in the past (that I have seen), so I met a few of the people who run things over there.”
That would be artistic director Kate Pazakis, a sometimes performer and the social hub of the venue. “I think a lot of people want to do shows for fun and go back to their roots to find out why they loved doing this in the first place,” says Pazakis, who heard Hyland sing in Hair and pursued her for Scream!
With no money there are no agents or contracts to negotiate, so Pazakis keeps it simple, relying on her phone full of famous names to seal the deal. Missi Pyle is an old friend from when the two co-hosted Broadway Barre together, a monthly gathering of theatre types at the Rockwell. Pazakis reached out and Pyle said yes to playing news reporter Gale Weathers, (Courteney Cox in the movie), to Hyland’s Sidney. Scream! only plays through Nov. 15 as part of the Rockwell’s “Unauthorized Musical Parody Series.” The limited run is part of the appeal for Hyland, who is hemmed in by Modern Family’s tight shooting schedule.
For Rumer Willis, Los Feliz, 90027 is an open-ended run intercutting filmed sequences with live performance on a narrative ride into the unknown. “We’re all kind of figuring it out as we go along. Jake (Wilson), our writer-director, has a broader idea. He only tells us bits and pieces of what we’re doing.”
Patrons are immersed in the action at the Rockwell with a menu offering gastro pub food, specialty cocktails and a wide variety of wines over an indoor dining room and outdoor patio where much of the action takes place. As such, Pazakis’ canvas is limited but not her ambition. “This spring, big shows, get some people involved,” she teases about the Unauthorized Musical Parody Series, not quite ready to discuss it. “If someone is passionate about something they want to do, I’ll let them do it. It’s that kind of place where people can do what they want.”