The Grand Guignol gorehounds of DangerHouse Productions put a stake through stuffy theatrical experiences with their visceral and unstaunched presentation of The Blood Countess. Amid the ambiance-drenched Victory Theater, a former 1920s movie house and Baptist church, the cutthroat play salutes Elizabeth Bathory, the unsung hero of vampirism, who destroyed lives and loofahs with her love of exfoliating blood baths. The story follows three American college kids who hike to Transylvania, hoping to find Bathory and make her more famous than Dracula. A DJ scores the slaughter, and four lucky audience members are invited to be tied and gagged onstage, making the play 10 times more wholesome than an Andrew Lloyd Webber outing. DangerHouse Productions sticks it to the squeamish with liberal bloodlettings, creative lighting, and realistic deaths that keep the Grim Reaper grinning. Laden with adult language and carnal acts, the play is decidedly intended for ages 16 and older. Valentine’s night audiences are privy to an opening gala, featuring dancing and savory, plasma-free chocolate wine.
With 58 schools in 23 states, the inspiring and performance-driven School of Rock enthusiastically infuses fledgling tunesmiths across the nation with the rhythm, skill, and confidence required to rock 'n' roll. Each instructor at the school is a professional musician, and fully equipped with the know-how to catapult instrumentalists to the crest of Mount Rockmore.
For more than a millennium, Cafe Sevilla has stood as one of Spain's great historic cities. In 1987, Spanish-born entrepreneurs Rogelio and Janet Huidobro opened the Cafe Sevilla tapas bar as a tribute to the longstanding cultural and culinary traditions of their homeland. Since then, the authentic Spanish eatery has expanded to three locations, each with a nightclub where live musicians take the stage every night in a celebration of Latin, Arabic, and gypsy music.
Cafe Sevilla's executive chef constantly experiments with his cooking, devising adventurous new dishes while highlighting cuisine from the varied regions of Spain. His menus encompass more than 40 tapas plates hailing from regions throughout Spain, such as skewers, ceviche, imported Iberian ham, and paella valenciana, a saffron-infused bomba-rice dish loaded with shellfish, Spanish sausage, and vegetables. Despite the ingenuity that suffuses the menu, one thing has remained constant: the sangria recipe, which is exactly the same as it was 25 years ago. On Saturday nights, there's an extra garnish for the cuisine: a three-course dinner is underscored by performances of flamenco, an Andalusian dance form that expresses love, pain, and passion through elaborate movement. Engaging the audience in a full sensory experience, the dancers—many of whom were trained in Spain and now run their own dance studios—are dressed in colorful, traditional garb and are chased off the stage by stampeding bulls at the end of each set.
Although the epicenter of downtown's Gaslamp Quarter buzzes with bars and restaurants, the comedy club nestled among it all may be the biggest draw. That’s because The American Comedy Co. consistently books nationally renowned comedians and television personalities such as the Sklar Brothers, Sarah Colonna, and Christopher Titus. Yet to keep from being too exclusive, the independent establishment also welcomes fledgling comics to its stage for open mic nights, where they can practice their timing, develop their stage presence, and lift famous people’s fingerprints from the microphone stand.
When live music is the antidote for a dull evening, head over to Patrick’s in the Gaslamp. No matter what night of the week you visit, there’s sure to be live blues, soul or rock n’roll blasting from the little stage in the back. Should the evening stay fair, leave your coat at home and grab one of the bar stools on the sidewalk patio for a nice mix of music and people-watching. Inside, the pub shows its Prohibition roots with a full tin ceiling, long bar and ring of seats, if you can get one. Most evenings there’s a standing room only crowd but if you’re looking to rub elbows with the natives, stop by early for happy hour and catch up on the local gossip.