“Fractured Broadway” Bows Tonight and Tuesday: Features Bruce Vilanch and Sam Harris

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‘Broadway’ launches NoHo musical plan

The event itself may be “fractured,” but Ronn Goswick contends his plan to bring a steady season of musical theater into NoHo’s El Portal Theatre is anything but cracked.

The unofficial debut of Goswick’s company Valley Musical Theatre bows tonight and Tuesday with a two-performance benefit of “Fractured Broadway.” Featuring performers like Bruce Vilanch, Sam Harris, Sally Struthers and an enormous lineup of L.A.-based musical-theater actors, “Fractured Broadway” includes musical direction by Reprise! musical director/conductor Gerald Sternbach and is directed by Nick DeGruccio.

Then, starting possibly as soon as the fall, Goswick – a longtime stage manager and marketing manager for various California theaters – hopes to bring his first small to midsize Broadway musical to the 354-seat, historic former movie house on Lankershim Boulevard.

“My five-year plan would be to have a four- or five-show season,” says Goswick, a 20-year resident of Burbank. “The idea probably is something that has floated around in my head for years, and it’s been the past nine months that it finally kicked in and I said, ‘Why are you sitting back not doing this?’

“The area around the theater in North Hollywood can have some major growth happening in the next five years,” he continues. “It’s a block away from the Metro station. Nobody has to drive here. A good portion of people from all over the L.A. area can come into North Hollywood, walk to the theater and then walk back to the Metro and go home once the evening is over.”

Goswick envisions VMT’s musicals as being two- to three-week runs of the caliber and scope of fare like “Godspell” or “Little Shop of Horrors.” He estimates that each show will carry a budget of approximately $250,000.

The venue best accommodates casts of not more than 12 performers and four- to six-piece bands, according to El Portal co-managing director Pegge Forrest.

A longtime manager with Reprise! who has produced the annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE) benefit for six years, Goswick is fully aware that anyone trying to bring musical theater to the Valley is treading a difficult path. The Valley does not currently have a resident company devoted exclusively to musical theater. Past efforts to bring regular programming to venues like Glendale’s Alex Theatre have met with little success. The El Portal’s own history of delivering consistent subscription series – musical or otherwise – is checkered as well.

“I don’t know what to tell you other than that I think the time is right,” says Goswick, 58. “I think my knowledge of the area and my ties to the people of the area and the community of performers will do something. The El Portal has not reached the potential that it can and will reach.”

Arts connections, Goswick would appear to have in spades. His years spent stage managing Reprise! shows, with STAGE and at the Canon Theatre, have given him plenty of phone numbers, as well as artists willing to donate their time for the “Fractured Broadway” benefit.

“Ronn forms relationships with all the actors; he really bonds with them,” says Reprise! producing director Jim Gardia. “That will definitely work to his advantage in getting talent for his shows.”

Goswick has advanced his venture at a time when the El Portal’s calendar appears to be bustling as well. In addition to the San Fernando Valley Playhouse subscription series run by James Blackman, the El Portal will host its first production by the El Dorado Opera, the venue’s new resident opera company, in May.


Where: El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
When: 8 tonight and Tuesday.
Tickets: $55 to $110. Call (818) 768-7974.