Bird Lives!

Chromolume Theatre
August 15 - September 21, 2014
By Willard Manus
Fri, Sat. 8pm
Sun. 2pm











Bird Lives! is a solo play, with music, about the life and times of one of the giants of jazz music, who is also one of the founders of bebop jazz, Charlie Parker. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”











Jay Weston of Huffington Post raves "[O]ne of the most powerful, raw, awesome and tragically-moving performances in memory."

Chris Walker of LA Weekly raves "GO! Montae Russell not only resembles Parker but delivers a moving performance." raves "[Montae Russell's] performance as Parker in BIRD LIVES! is an amazing feat of artistry"



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Where are you located?
We currently are a company without a home. You can reach us at P.O. Box 61964, Los Angeles, CA 90064.

What time should I arrive at the theatre?
Generally speaking, it is best to arrive at the theatre roughly 15-30 minutes before your performance.

Does the theatre have wheelchair access?

Can my child/baby attend the theatre?/Is the show appropriate for children?
It is Chromolume Theatre's policy that no babies in arms may be allowed to attend. Further, we do not permit children under the age of four (4) to attend. This is to ensure that all customers enjoy the show. Young children are admitted but are not encouraged to attend unless the parent is confident the child will not distract other members of the audience. Everyone must have a valid ticket and occupy a seat. Accompanying adults will be asked to remove any noisy children. Generally, Chromolume Theatre produced productions are appropriate for school age children, while visiting productions can vary in appropriateness. Regardless, you should probably check with the Box Office when you order your tickets whether the production you are attending is appropriate for your child.

Are your actors professional?
In most cases, yes. Most, if not all, of the actors who perform in our shows are members of Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and/or American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Do your musicals have live musicians or taped accompaniment?
All of Chromolume Theatre's produced musicals include a single piano, or a small orchestra, usually five pieces. We do not use taped accompaniment at any of our performances. Any visiting production may use taped accompaniment.

Whom do I contact to usher for one of your performances?
If you wish to usher for one of our performances, contact our House Manager.

How can I purchase tickets for one of your productions?
There are three ways to purchase tickets for Chromolume Theatre produced performances (please note that visiting productions' methods may vary):

  • Purchase them online through our secure server
  • Purchase them in person at the Box Office
  • Purchase them over the telephone by calling (323) 510-1651 x202

Where do I pick up my tickets?
You can pick them up at the Box Office on the date of your performance.

Where is the Box Office located?
The Box Office is located immediately as you enter the theatre, to your right. The Box Office is open one hour prior to performance.

When are auditions for your performances?
Audition dates and times vary depending on the production. You can browse our Audition Page to check out when an upcoming audition is occurring and what to prepare for said audition.

Do you do only do musicals?
Chromolume Theatre's production productions are not only musicals. Occasionally, we will produce a play or a play with music. Visiting productions can vary anywhere between performance art to fully staged musicals.

Where can I find rental information?
To rent our theatre or to find out more information, you can check our Rental Page or call us at (323) 510-1651.



Chromolume Theatre does not currently have any auditions scheduled.



Chromolume Theatre does not currently have any auditions scheduled.


Cast/Crew Bios

Montae Russell, Charlie Parker
Bird Lives!

Montae is a veteran television, theatre, and film actor is pleased to make his Chromolume Theatre debut, and is honored to be entrusted with the role of the great Charlie "Bird" Parker. He was seen on NBC's ER for fifteen seasons as Paramedic Dwight Zadro, and won the SAG Award for Best Dramatic Ensemble four times. His film and cable credits include The Player's Club, HBO's Laurel Avenue, TNT's Lily in Winter opposite Natalie Cole and Marla Gibbs; a three year stint on One Life to Live; and has made countless television episodic appearances -- Shameless, Detroit 187, Cold Case, to name a few. His extensive stage credits range from Broadway's King Hedley II, A Few Good Men, Prelude to a Kiss to Joe Turner's Come and Gone and Fences at the Kennedy Center, the NY Public Theatre's East Texas Hotlinks, The Cleveland Playhouse's African American production of The Glass Menagerie. Recent regional productions are 132 performances of the one man show Thurgood (Florida Studio Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theatre), The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry, (Los Angeles Theatre Center), Jitney (South Coast Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, NAACP Best Ensemble Award). He has performed in 9 of the 10 August Wilson plays, and will soon become the first actor to appear in all 10. He's a University of Pittsburgh grad, and earned his MFA from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. He's a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and is active in the South Los Angeles area with his non-profit organization Successful Youth Los Angeles. For more info, hit up: When praises go up, you know the rest...

Thomas Bell, Charlie Parker u/s
Bird Lives!

Since his first on-screen appearance on MTV's Beauty and the Beach, Thomas Bell has appeared in over thirty films and plays, award winning national and international commercials, radio spots, print campaigns and television shows such as General Hospital, Then There Was You, Days of our Livesi> to name a few. In the new digital media arena, he is currently a series regular on the series titled Those Guys and has performed sketch comedy pieces for and Creeper films. Thomas has worked with award winning directors such as Mario Van Pebbles, Tommy Hicks, Denise Dowse and Kevin Smith across multiple forms of media and he is currently producing a new media series titled REBORN. Thomas has come a long way from Cinnaminson, New Jersey to share his love for acting with the world. He is cast most recently in the films LoveJacked, Where Fate Meets and Taken Away. Thomas is in his fifth season as Danny in Eastern Sky's touring production of The Last Appeal. "I am truly blessed to be able to do this for a living."

Tommy Hicks, Director
Bird Lives!

A veteran of the New York stage, Tommy is more known for his starring in film, most notably, Spike Lee's groundbreaking feature, SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT!, Julie Dash's Sundance Award winning, DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, and Sundance, LA Spirit, and MacArthur Genius award winning writer/director Charles Burnett's feature film, THE GLASS SHIELD. Tommy is a former Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship Award Winner, and has written commissioned screenplays for Robert Townsend's Tinseltownsend Productions, and Cineville Films. Tommy has also lectured on Theater, Film, and Television at University campuses across the country for The American Program Bureau, and his company, Artist Resources Unlimited. Tommy dramaturged and directed the hit play, CHAMPION at the Beverly Hills Playhouse's Skylight Theatre that was moved to New York City's famed The New Federal Theatre for a critically acclaimed run. Most recently, Tommy directed Willard Manus' 'ROID RAGE at the Write Act Theatre in Hollywood, a workshop production of BIRD LIVES! at Leimert Park's The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center and MIM & ROSE at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. Tommy is a member of the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. Special thanks to Terri Hanauer, Mark Rydell and Don Bell.

Daniel Ingram, Scenic Design
Bird Lives!

Daniel has returned to the world of professional theatre after teaching high school drama for seven years. Daniel's most recent designs include the highly successful Disassembly (Theatre of Note), In The Next Room (The Lounge Theater), Altar Boyz AND co-designing renovations for The Attic Theatre space itself. In addition to being Chromolume's Technical Director, Daniel has worked as a scenic carpenter and/or running crew for Musical Theatre West, A Noise Within, and When You Wish theatre companies this season. Daniel would like to thank James Esposito for his insights and contributions to the Bird Lives! set, and Lauren Peters for taking the lead on the dance-room gentrification.

Amy Mazzaferro, Costume Design
Bird Lives!

Amy is very happy to be doing her first show with Chromolume Theatre. Amy studied costume design and construction at Southern Oregon University in Ashland Oregon. Past shows include The Picture of Dorian Grey, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Bye, Bye Birdie. Many thanks to her friends and family for their love and support.

Samantha Marie, Lighting Design
Bird Lives!

Samantha graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Dance Major, and Theater Arts Minor. Samantha grew up on the stage and began working in theater at 5 years old and has been a member as SAG since 1997. As a young actor she appeared in national commercials, TV shows, and lent her voice to animation. Her passion for performance grew in the Seattle area where she was on several dance companies including Westlake Performing Group, and Cruz Control. Samantha has danced in several music videos along with assisting choreographer Christina Woodard at the Edge in Hollywood and is an active member of the dance company Breed. As a stage manager, she has worked on The Crucible, The Club, In Love With Night, Theater and Dance Showcases, and Beats By Dre Conventions. She is currently the production manager of the dance department at Loyola Marymount University and the Assistant Theater Manager at Chromolume Theatre Company. She has recently choreographed Musical of Musicals, The Musical!, I Love You You're Perfect Now Change, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Pinkalicious, and Altar Boyz. She is thrilled about the opportunity to have worked on this wonderful show Bird Lives!

James Esposito, Sound design
Bird Lives!

James is currently the V.P. of Operations at Chromolume Theatre. Scenic design credits include all three incarnations of Do Lord Remember Me and Love Songs - A Musical for Chromolume Theatre. Sound design credits include Do Lord Remember Me, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know, Merrily We Roll Along, Capsized Floatsam, Greek Tragedy, Musical of Musicals, the Musical, Altar Boyz, and Strip, the latter of which he also directed. On stage, his credits include Company (Bobby), City of Angels (Munoz), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Thurio), Forever Plaid (Sparky), Fiddler on the Roof (Twice!), Cinderella and Chess just to name a few.

Lauren J. Peters Stage Manager
Bird Lives!

Lauren J. Peters is enjoying the experience of working on such a special production. Originally a performer, Lauren started working in theater at the age of 3 and continues to work in various capacities both on stage and behind the scenes. Finding stage management her favorite place in the theater in high school, she has been working as a stage manager for 10 years around the Los Angeles area. She has worked on shows such as Forever Plaid and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in San Pedro at the Warner Grand Theatre for The RelevantStage Theater Company, at Stage52LA for Sustaining Sound Theatre Company's production of Little Women, the Musical, The El Portal for the Kelrik Production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and here at Chromolume Theatre for the recent productions of The Musical of Musicals, the Musical and Altar Boyz. She is currently the Assistant Technical Director at Chromolume Theatre, and will be working on the upcoming production of Putting It Together in November and will be working on the upcoming production of 9 to 5 at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center this Fall. Lauren feels very blessed to have the opportunity to be working in the field she is passionate about and feels she was born for. Thanks Mom & Ksells for all the support.

Willard Manus, Playwright
Bird Lives!

Willard Manus has had numerous plays produced in L.A., most recently Marilyn -- My Secret, Bridge and Just a Song at Twilight. He is also a journalist and novelist whose best known work is Mott the Hoople, the novel from which the 70s British rock band took its name. Another recent play of his, Frank And Ava, won a Best Play Award at the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival and went on to an 8-month run at Three Clubs in Hollywood. Manus is a member of the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Mike Abramson, Marketing
Bird Lives!

Mike is an award winning producer and has successfully produced about a dozen shows in the Los Angeles area. Since 2011, Mike has served as an in-house Producer and Director of Marketing for DOMA Theatre Company where he has garnered critical acclaim for several musicals including Jekyll and Hyde (LA Weekly Critics Pick of the Week), Xanadu (LA Weekly GO), Avenue Q (LA Times Critics Choice, Ovation Recommended, and nominated for six 2013 Ovation Awards including Best Musical Intimate Theatre) and Dreamgirls (LA Times Critics Choice, Ovation Recommended, winner of three LA Drama Critics Circle Awards including Best Revival, nominated for five LA Weekly Theater Awards including Best Musical Production and winner of 11 Stage Scene LA Awards including Best Musical Production of the Year). Outside of DOMA, Mike has produced several successful plays and musicals including Is There Sex After Marriage? (Recommended, Top 10 - Stage Raw), The Pokemusical, Nocturne, Rent, Its the Biz and Listen Can You Hear Me Now (Winner Best of Fringe) to name a few. Mike thanks James Esposito and the entire Chromolume Family for welcoming him with open arms.

Ken Werther, Publicity
Bird Lives!

Ken Werther Publicity has been a staple in the Los Angeles performing arts community since 1982. Currently: Broadway Under the Stars; The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?; Rise and Shine, or I Thought I Was White; Andronicus; LA Jewish Symphony 20th Anniversary; 2014 LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards; LALGBTC Cultural Arts Program; O Baby Mine (CD of kid's songs and lullabies inspired by Shakespeare); Acting Dead (web series); Erich Bergen.




Jay Weston of Huffington Post raves...


"I saw one of the most powerful, raw, awesome and tragically-moving performances in memory. Oh, my, it really shook me up."


"[Montae Russell] is an actor who has paid his dues, and this performance is truly memorable. Shattering."


"Yes, this is a powerful, raw and emotionally-charged stage work, but if you have a fascination with jazz or the desire to see a stunning performance, then by all means make the the trek down to Culver City for a memorable evening."



Chris Walker of LA Weekly raves...




"[Bird Lives!] rests on the shoulders of actor Montae Russell, who not only resembles Parker but delivers a moving performance..."



Shari Barrett of raves...


"[Montae Russell's] performance as Parker in BIRD LIVES! is an amazing feat of artistry."


"Bird Lives!, demonstrate[s] Manus' real skill in merging personal fact into an interesting staged character study."


"[Tommy] Hicks treats both Parker's successes and demons equally, allowing Russell to fully express the full scope of his success and adversity."


"You will leave the theatre with a new appreciation of [Parker's] artistry thanks to the full force portrayal by Montae Russell."



Rose Desena of The Los Angeles Post says...


"[Montae] Russell made me feel as if I was listening to Parker himself."


"I enjoyed the story, and I think it’s a valuable historical tale."



David C. Nichols of LA Times says...


"It goes without saying that Parker devotees, jazz scholars and the uninitiated could find [Bird Lives] of value and significance."



Errnest Kearney of says...


"Russell imbues his performance with a strong undercurrent of sincerity which serves him and the production well."



Joe Straw of Joe Straw Blog says...


"Tommy Hicks, the director, does a fine job."


"There is a lot fo enjoy from Willard Manus's play."


"Run! And take someone who enjoys improvisation, in jazz and in life."



Patricia Rye of Pat Rye Reviews says...


"[Montae] Russell is well worth seeing."


"A terrific performance."