Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

A Day Late and a Dollar… Saturday Stew on Sunday

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 03, 2015 @ 4:15 pm PDT

Observation StewThe smell of stew cooking in the crockpot reminded me I need to post a stew of my own; with vacation and such, it’s been a few weeks. So let’s clear out those links…

  • Burger Continental is Gone. We discovered this as we returned home from the Ren Faire a few weeks ago: BC has closed their doors. No more can Adrian, their long-time waiter (and one of the owners, from what I’ve heard) flirt with my wife. They were a reliable dinner when we were going to the Pasadena Playhouse. I’ll miss them.
  • Airline Safety, Take 1: Fitting In The Butts. As we all know, airlines are squeezing passengers closer and closer together, both through thinner seats and decreased pitch. The big problem: That may not be safe. A consumer advisory group has asked DOT to look into the matter.
  • Airline Safety, Take 2: Reading the Signs. An interesting airline risk has just come to light — significant if you are flying Boeing 787s. It appears there is a software glitch that could cause power units (APUs) to go into failsafe mode after running continuously for more than 8 months. Specifically, if all four APUs were started at the same time, and run for 248.55 hours… they shut down. 248.55 just happens to be the point where a signed 32-bit integer holding time in hundreths of a second overflows and goes negative. No problem: That age old advice still works: “Have you tried turning it off, and back on again?”
  • Cleaning Out the Stash. One of the problem when your parents die is cleaning out what they left at the house. That problem turns weird when you discover their adult stash — i.e., their porn collection. Yes, your parents think about sex — who do you think made you the horndog you are? Yes, I’m looking at you. Luckily, there is an adult bookstore in London that will take that porn off of your, umm, hands.
  • Ah, Catherine the Great. As you probably remember, I loved Steve Allen’s Meeting of Minds. Therefore, it is with sad news that I report the passing of Mrs. Steve Allen, better known as Jayne Meadows, who started in numerous episodes. She made it to 95 and had a good life. I thank her for her contributions.
  • Security and Maturity. Here’s an interesting metric: Brian Krebs on measuring a company’s security maturity level.
  • Damn. Yesterday was National Naked Gardening Day. Here’s an interesting article on a garden rework in Beverlywood that not only saves water, but grows vegetables. For future reference…
  • Where to Go For Dinner. Another “for future reference”: Here’s a listing of 20 recommended places to eat in the Valley. We’ve actually been to about 2/3s of these.
  • But What Will I Watch in Hawaii. I don’t know what you did when you visited Hawaii in your college years, but I…. programmed. I have fond memories of listening to the Jerry Lewis Telethon (back in the late 1970s, mind you) and programming for the UCLA Computer Club. Today’s children will have to find something else to do: MDA has cancelled the Labor Day Telethon. I’ll note that it had really gone downhill without Jerry Lewis and the folks he drew in, and MDA parted ways with him a few years ago.

That’s your stew for this Sunday. Now go work out….

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«Form»ing an Opinion

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 03, 2015 @ 7:59 am PDT

Loopholes - The Musical (Hudson/Theatre Planners)userpic=theatre2A few months ago, I heard about a new musical coming to Los Angeles (I don’t recall the source). The musical was called “Loopholes“, and it was a musical about taxes and the IRS. Now, I’m the son of two accountants (my dad was one of the last PAs in California; my mom one of the first woman CPAs), and I’m married to the daughter of a CPA. Naturally, I had to go see this show, and blocked off a date in my calendar. A month or so later ticketing for the show opens, and I quickly grab tickets for when we return from vacation. By now, you’ve probably figured out where I was last night :-) : I was at the Hudson Mainstage (FB) in Hollywood seeing “Loopholes“, a musical parody.

Loopholes“, which features book and lyrics by Stan Rich (FB), and music and lyrics by Ronnie Jayne (FB), is ostensibly based on a true story of what happened to Rich in the 1980s and 1990s. The IRS had disallowed losses the author incurred from a tax shelter, but allowed only the gains. Despite numerous attempts to close the case, the IRS kept delaying and adding interest on the penalty. Eventually they IRS calculated a revised amount, which was 10% of the original demand. However, they still insisted on the full penalty. The battle went on for 15 years, until the IRS hit a block and could no longer go against the taxpayer. After resolving the situation, the taxpayer wanted to create a win-win situation… and so wrote a musical spoof of the situation. This was presented as “Taxpayer Taxpayer” until shortly after 9/11. It was then set aside for a decade, then reworked, updated, and adapted… resulting in this production.

The basic story above forms the plot of the musical, which was directed and dramaturged by Kiff Scholl (FB). Names, of course, were changed to protect… well, I’m guessing names were changed to avoid legal issues. The names chosen will give you quite an idea of the show. Our lead protagonist is Izzy Rich; his accountant is Harry Grim; the IRS agents are Eileen Holmes, Sheila Peel, and Howie Catchem; the therapist is Marsha Mellow.  Yes, all of these names result in puns, which include the resultant beat for laughter (of which there was a lot in the audience).

These names reflect both the strength and the weakness of this show, which is hard to put into words. In many ways, the show reflects the author well. By this I mean that those who use (and sometimes abuse) tax shelters often try too hard; the attempt to get everything right and cross every “T” often raises flags that might not otherwise be raised. I’m guessing it is something like that which first caught the eyes of the IRS. Similarly, this show — which is funny and cute and entertaining — tries just a little bit too hard. There are points where it self-consciously pushes the humor, becomes self-referential, recognizes it is a show on a stage, highlights the fact that you just heard a joke, or goes for the obvious pun. These points become a little grating. Mind you, they aren’t enough to make this a bad show or destroy the entertainment value; rather, they just leave you with the “trying too hard” taste.

I don’t blame the author for this — this is his first show and his first musical, and it was written first as a musical comedy spoof for groups and to attempt to laugh and derive something positive from a bad experience. As a musical comedy spoof it does well. If it wants to transition into a musical with longer life — and perhaps a deeper message and commentary on the power of the IRS — it could likely do with a bit more reshaping. The director, Scholl, is also listed as the Dramaturge, and in this capacity I believe a little more could have been done to take off a bit of the earnestness edge. I think there is a great message and a great story here that could move this from a musical spoof to something much more, but that more work is required to turn this into something with greater gravitas and longevity.

But I’ll note that my opinion may be a little jaded due to my upbringing. You spend your life in a CPA office, surrounded with bad tax jokes, and they no longer become quite as funny. The audience sitting around me was truly enjoying this show (including the guy behind me who was singing along, even though he didn’t know the lyrics, sigh). There was lots of laughter, and even I found myself laughing out loud at a few of the jokes and scenes. I truly believe that I’m the oddity here — I think that this is a show that, despite its excessive earnestness, will make audiences laugh and will serve to entertain.

Another example of the “trying too hard” is found in the music: this is a 90 minute show, with no intermission. The program lists 35 songs — and this isn’t a sung-through opera. Many of these are only song snippets, and I’d estimate that perhaps 85-90% of them are parodies of other well-known songs. That doesn’t destroy the humor (after all, who can’t love “Sittin’ in the Schvitz” as a parody of “Putting On The Ritz”), but it’s odd for a musical that makes it appear as if it was a original musical. The few songs that I didn’t recognize as parodies were quite good (“Think Like a Winner”); again I found myself wishing the show had amped up the originality instead of going for the easy joke. Perhaps that’s part of the problem — scenes, characters, names were often there for the easy, funny joke, whereas I (trained after all these years for musicals with deeper meaning) was looking for something with a bit more depth. A uniform 5′ deep pool is still refreshing on a hot day, but it is safe; sometimes you want to jump off that diving board into the 10′ deep end.

If I was to summarize the book and music aspects of Loopholes, it would be that this show is funny and entertaining for what it is, but it left me wishing it was a bit more. I truly believe that there is a story here that can be musicalized, but to do so the author needs to decide what is the story he truly wants to tell — is the focus poking fun at the IRS, or is the story about “Izzy”‘s growth from a cold-business man to someone who finds a new attitude and a new relationship. The latter, if you look at this from high above, is the real story; the IRS is not the villain but the player who helps shape our leads journey. Telling that story — with truly new and original lyrics — could move this from the musical spoof/parody that it is into something much greater: a story of individual growth and attitude, with some humorous pointed commentary songs along the way. The verdict? Funny and entertaining and great, with some seeds that — if nurtured properly — can turn this into much more.

Part of what makes the presentation entertaining is the cast, who are fun and  entertaining and a joy to watch — plus they all sing well. If the cast has a problem, overall, it is more in the direction — again, it tries a little too hard. The cast seems someone conscious that they are on a stage and are trying to make the audience laugh. Relax, and have fun kids. Luckily, the problem appears a bit less in the lead positions: Bruce Nozick (FB) as Izzy Rich and Caryn Richman (FB) as Dr. Marsha Mellow. Nozick brings a gentle humor to Izzy (as well as a lovely voice). He permits you to see both the businessman and the exasperation. As for Richman: She was wonderful to see on stage (full disclosure: I’ve enjoyed her acting since I first saw her on New Gidget; I’m amazed at how she has seemingly not aged since then (whereas I’ve … well, let’s say I was much younger then)). She sang well, emoted well, and related to the other characters well — and was just fun to watch.

In supporting roles (on the Izzy side) were Perry Lambert (FB) as Harry Grim and Julia Cardia (FB) as Brenda, Izzy’s secretary.  Lambert was great as the accountant and quite funny in his role. His scenes as the Rabbi and in the steamroom were great. He also sang and moved well. I’m sure I’ve seen him in a past show, but I can’t put my finger on it. Cardia as Brenda was surprising. I think her best moments were when Harry brought in the backup singers, and she would watch them and slowing move in, joining in on the actions. Subtly funny, which is the humor I tend to like.

The primary IRS agents (although they played other roles as well) were Brad Griffith (FB) as Howie Catchem (also: the Wolf, Willie Nelson); Camille Licate (FB) as Eileen Holmes (also Nicole Kidme); and Taji Coleman (FB) as Sheila Peel (also Mrs. Lamaz). Griffith was fun to watch — he had a wonderful warmth with an undertone of evil — just what you need for an IRS agent :-) . Licate seemed to be enjoying herself as Eileen — the newbie IRS agent. She projected an aura of fun and naivete, singing strongly and clearly enjoying being on stage. Coleman performed well in her roles but there was a little something missing last night that I couldn’t pinpoint — she didn’t have the same energy and enthusiasm as the rest of the cast. My wife thought it was just her characters; my guess is that she was just having a slightly off night — and that happens sometimes. Irrespective of that, all three worked well together in their main IRS roles and were a fun team.

Rounding out the cast in multiple ensemble roles were Ryan Brady (FB) as Sam Flushing / IRS Supervisor / Pig #3 / Pete Rose / Bailiff and Nora King (FB) as Jude Gleo Grief / Pig #1 / Lois / IRS Receptionist. Brady had a nice warmth to him, and was hilarious as the plumber in “Flush It Down”. Please pass me the brain bleach for that rear dancing shot :-). King caught my eye the minute I saw her on stage — she just radiated enthusiasm and fun and happiness to be her characters — and that’s what I love to see. She was just wonderful in all her roles, and especially how she rocked the towel in the steambath scenes and rocked the gavel in her courtroom scenes.

Music was provided by the co-lyricist, Ronnie Jayne (FB), who served as musical director and on-stage accompanist. Lindsay Martin (FB)’s choreography worked reasonably well. There were a few points where it came off as a little forced, but I think that goes to the whole “trying too hard” vibe I picked up and discussed earlier. Overall, the movement worked well and fit the book and plotline. Rita Cofield (FB) was the stage manager, assisted by Ashley D. Clark/FB.

Turning to the technical: The set design was by Charles G. Sleichter and worked well in its simplicity. There was a backdrop that supported some projections, and two side panels that identified location or hid major props. Add a desk, and that was essentially it… but it worked. The lighting design by Donny Jackson (FB) worked well to establish the mood, and was otherwise non-obtrusive. The sound design by David B. Marling (FB) provided good sound effects. Murray Burn‘s costumes worked well and established the characters well; I particularly liked the little touches such as the green in all the IRS costumes. Casting was by Raul Clayton Staggs (FB). Publicity was by Kuker & Lee. Loopholes was produced by Theatre Planners (Racquel Lehrman and Victoria Watson); Bobbe Rothbart/FB was the co-executive producer.

Loopholes continues at the Hudson Theatre through Sunday, May 17. Even though it tries too hard, it is genuinely funny and entertaining and well worth seeing. Tickets are available through Plays411; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar and other sources.

I Support 99 Seat Theatre in Los Angeles[ETA: This show is a great example of the intimate theatre battle in Los Angeles. No, I don’t mean to paint AEA as the evil IRS, and the pro99-ers as trying to find loopholes. Rather, this is a production in an intimate theatre by a non-membership company, a theatre with more than 50 seats, by a non-profit. It features a mix of AEA and non-AEA actors (and AEA actors on both sides of the pro99 debate). It is precisely the type of production that would be hurt by the new rules, because they would have to pay minimum wage to the 7 AEA actors in the show. Given labor laws, the remaining 3 actors would also have to be paid minimum wage, because you cannot have “volunteers” doing the same job as employees (and from what I saw, they were certainly professional). Add in the creative designers, factor in theatre rental and the fact that many tickets are not full price but discounted via Goldstar, Plays411, LA Stage Tix, or other sources… and this would be a money loser. Yet it is shows like these that need to get off the ground; shows like these that need the dramaturgy and audience feedback to move forward. I Love 99 (FB) is a community of people that love LA’s intimate theatre and want to save it: AEA actors, non-AEA actors, creatives, technical people, stage managers, producers, critics, and audience members working together. LA has built a unique community thanks to the 99 seat plan: let’s figure out how to move the community forward in a plan that benefits all stakeholders. Follow us on Facebook, and learn about what you can do from our web page.]

Dining Notes: A wonderful find if you are seeing shows at the Hudson, the Blank, or the Complex (hint: remember this for Fringe Festival) is Eat This Cafe (FB), which is on the corner and is part of the Hudson complex of theatres. Although not on their online menu, gluten-free bread is available. They have wonderful salads and sandwiches. Note also that the Hudson’s cafe often has gluten-free muffins.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Our next theatre is Tuesday night, when we’re going to the alumni performance of Alice – The Musical at Nobel Middle School. This is followed by “Words By Ira Gershwin – A Musical Play” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on May 9.  The weekend of May 16 brings “Dinner with Friends” at REP East (FB), and may also bring “Violet: The Musical” at the Monroe Forum Theatre (FB) (I’m just waiting for them to show up on Goldstar). The weekend of May 23 brings Confirmation services at TAS, a visit to the Hollywood Bowl, and “Love Again“, a new musical by Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ, at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB).  The last weekend of May brings “Entropy” at Theatre of Note (FB) on Saturday, and “Waterfall“, the new Maltby/Shire musical at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on Sunday. June looks to be exhausting with the bounty that the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) brings (ticketing is now open). June starts with a matinee of the movie Grease at The Colony Theatre (FB), followed by Clybourne Park (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and a trip out to see the Lancaster Jethawks on Sunday. The second weekend of June brings Max and Elsa. No Music. No Children. (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and  Wombat Man (HFF) at Underground Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Marry Me a Little (HFF) by Good People Theatre (FB) at the Lillian Theatre (FB) on Sunday. The craziness continues into the third weekend of June, with Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and Merely Players (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Sunday (and possibly “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) in the afternoon, depending on Hottix availability, although July 4th weekend is more likely). The Fringe craziness ends with Medium Size Me, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Thursday 6/25 and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Saturday. June ends with our annual drum corps show in Riverside on Sunday. July begins with “Murder for Two” at the Geffen Playhouse (FB) on July 3rd, and possibly Matilda. July 11th brings “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB). The following weekend is open, although it might bring “As You Like It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) (depending on their schedule and Goldstar).  July 25th brings “Lombardi” at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB), with the annual Operaworks show the next day. August may bring “Green Grow The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB), the summer Mus-ique show, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” at  The Colony Theatre (FB). After that we’ll need a vacation! As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

 

You Are What You Eat

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 02, 2015 @ 12:16 pm PDT

userpic=gluten-freeHere are a few posts from the last few weeks related to what you eat, and its effects. This is timely, as the CDF Food Fair and Convention is this weekend.

 

Thoughts on a Theatre Season: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri May 01, 2015 @ 6:49 pm PDT

userpic=theatre_ticketsAnother entry in a continuing series of reviews of season announcements. This time it is the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB), where we recently saw the wonderful remounting of Carrie. It’s a bit of a drive, so a show needs to be special (in some way) for us to slog on down. Here are my thoughts on their upcoming season:

  • Thumbs Up First Date. September 18 – October 11, 2015 (Press Opening September 19). Book by Austin Winsberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Directed by Nick DeGruccio. I picked up the CD for this because it had Krysta Rodriguez and have really enjoyed the music. Plus Nick is directing — always a great sign. I’m going to try to fit this one into the schedule.
  • Thumbs Down Rent. October 23 – November 15, 2015 (Press Opening October 24). Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson. Directed by Brian Kite. For Rent, there would need to be something truly different about the production — an intimate setting, some special quirk of casting, some new twist. We essentially have the Broadway version captured in the movie.
  • thumbs-side Empire: The Musical. January 22 – Feb 14, 2016 (Press Opening January 23). Book, Music and Lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull. Directed and Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Empire is an original musical about those who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world, the Empire State Building. The subject doesn’t entice me, and I haven’t heard for the composer/lyricist. That sets up some red flags. I might withhold judgement on this until I learn some more.
  • Thumbs Down Dreamgirls. March 25 – April 17, 2016 (Press Opening March 26). Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. Directed and Choreographed by Bobby Longbottom. I saw this musical when it was originally out here (and I do mean the original), and the movie is still fresh in my memory. It’s not enough of a unique draw to bring me to La Mirada.
  • Thumbs Down The Little Mermaid. June 3- June 26, 2016 (Press Opening June 4). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Glenn Casale. This is about two weeks before it will be at Cabrillo Music Theatre’s (FB) (2015-2016 season), and we’re going to be subscribing to Cabrillo. Pass on another version.
  • Thumbs Down Green Day’s American Idiot. April 29 – May 15, 2016 (Bonus Option).  Music by Green Day. Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer.  Directed by Brian Kite. If I wanted to see this, I’d go to the upcoming DOMA (FB) version, as they do good work and create a great experience without the schlep. [ETA: LaMirada is doing an immersive staging — as they did with Carrie. Should be good, but the show just didn’t grab me the first time I saw it at the Ahmanson. Add to that a drive from Northridge to LaMirada (46 miles, about an hour), and if I wanted to see it again, I’d go to the much closer DOMA production.*]
  • Thumbs Down Leann Rimes. May 21, 2016 – 2pm & 8pm. A country music entertainer. Not the type of show that’s strong enough to attract me to a concert.

About 1 show. That’s usually the correct number with La Mirada — they have one unique show I try to go to each year (alas, I missed their production of Floyd Collins). [ETA: This is not to say La Mirada is bad — they just happened to pick shows that aren’t strong enough to offset a 1hr+ drive.]

[ETA: *: This highlights a problem in Southern California. Due to lack of coordination, we often have multiple theatres doing the same show at nearly the same time, and this just splits the audience. Funny Thing/Forum seems to be hot right now, as is Avenue Q. If you look at LaMirada, Little Mermaid is almost on top of Cabrillo — yes, they are 100 miles apart, but this is SoCal and we have cars. Similarly with AI, you’ve got it right after the DOMA production. It’s not just LaMirada: DOMA just did Jesus Christ Superstar, and REP in Santa Clarita is doing it this summer. We need a SoCal clearinghouse of shows, so everyone can do something unique and draw the audience.]

California Highway Headlines for April 2015

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri May 01, 2015 @ 6:27 pm PDT

userpic=roadgeekingHere are the highway headlines for April 2015. Yes, I know I’m behind on updating the California Highways site. Weekends get busy, and the upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival will not help.

  • Fremont: Citizen groups blast Caltrans’ Niles Canyon bridge replacement. The yearslong debate over widening the highway through Niles Canyon has continued, as environmental groups this month blasted Caltrans’ Alameda Creek Bridge project. Caltrans says that replacing the 87-year-old bridge would improve safety for drivers and bicyclists on a half-mile stretch of Niles Canyon Road, a winding highway that connects Fremont to Interstate 680 near Sunol.
  • From Mammoths to Jefferson: How the Los Angeles Street System Ended Up So Weird. In some places, Los Angeles’s street grid is neat and orderly, pointing to the four cardinal directions. In other places, it’s neat and orderly, with a 45 degree tilt. Other places, it’s doing god knows what. In his LAtitudes essay “Gridding the City,” Nathan Masters travels the length of Wilshire Boulevard, from Downtown to Santa Monica, and through the history of Los Angeles’s many layouts. Approaches changed as the city sprawled west from Downtown, giving Wilshire its unpredictable course through the basin, and meanwhile dividing up the wild land and turning it into private property.
  • After long fight, Orange County transportation officials agree to toll lanes on I-405. After fighting toll lanes for years, Orange County transportation officials on Monday said they couldn’t fight the state any longer and gave in, allowing toll lanes as part of a $1.7 billion expansion project of Interstate 405.
  • Planning for San Bernardino County’s future by improving the 10, 15 freeways: L. Dennis Michael. Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour? Every time we get in our car, we consider how long it will take us to get to our destination. This varies dramatically depending on when and where we are traveling. Traffic, both expected and unexpected, can impact the length and quality of that trip. At San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), the regional transportation planning agency for San Bernardino County made up of elected officials representing each of our 24 cities and the county, it is important we look ahead to plan for how we are going to get around 10, 20, and even 40 years from now. The 10 and 15 are two of the most heavily congested freeways in our county. In thinking about our future, we are currently studying the best ways to handle the growing traffic in these corridors.
  • SR-710 Draft EIR Community Meeting. Caltrans and Metro are under a mandate from two million Los Angeles County voters that passed Measure R in 2008 to study a 100 square mile region affected by congestion and pollution caused by incomplete transportation infrastructure between the end of the I-710 freeway in El Sereno and the I- 210 Freeway in Pasadena.
  • OCTA to take charge of 405 toll-lane project. The Orange County Transportation Authority is taking the reins on a highly debated proposal to put toll lanes on the 405 Freeway through part of the northern county. The OCTA board of directors voted 12 to 4 on Monday to approve terms with the California Department of Transportation, spelling out that OCTA would fund, finance, construct and operate the toll lanes. The agency also would be in charge of widening 14 freeway bridges as well as adding general-purpose lanes along the 14-mile stretch of the 405 between the 605 Freeway in Seal Beach and the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa.
  • 405 expansion could start in 2018. Motorists can expect years of freeway construction on a busy stretch of the I-405, with the aim of eventually easing gridlock, under a deal with Caltrans approved Monday by the Orange County Transportation Authority board. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018 on a combination HOV-toll lane between the 73 and I-605 and a free lane between Euclid Street to I-605. The new lanes would run in both directions.
  • Will the Fight Over the 710 Gap in L.A. Be a Battle to the Death (of Freeways)?. When residents of South Pasadena, California, hear “mind the gap,” they think of anything but the Jubilee, Hammersmith or Piccadilly. For them, the gap in question refers not to a subway but to a freeway — or lack thereof. The 710 runs 23 miles north-south through the heart of the Los Angeles Basin, roughly paralleling the path of the Los Angeles River, from the port city of Long Beach to the inner suburb of Alhambra. There, the freeway abruptly stops, just past its interchange with the 10 Freeway, as if swallowed by a tar pit. Four-and-a-half miles to the north, the 210 freeway runs perpendicular to the 710’s logical route, and heads eastward to connect Los Angeles County to the Inland Empire.
  • Interchange project marks major milestone. Overhead work recently completed on the Interstate 80/Interstate 680/Highway 12 interchange project marks a major milestone in the first phase of construction, the California Department of Transportation announced this week. Preliminary overhead structures were installed earlier this month for the new Green Valley Road overcrossing over I-80, requiring overnight closures of the freeway.
  • History dotted with proposals for large-scale freeways in Malibu. The official website for the California Incline replacement project invites the public to “Be Excited, Be Prepared,” but for many Malibu commuters the prevalent emotion is trepidation, not excitement. The closure of the 100-year-old landmark, added to the ongoing sewer interceptor replacement project, threatens to further complicate the commute along a stretch of road that sometimes feels more like an obstacle course than a highway. However, local activists fought for more than a decade in the 1960s and ’70s to keep the coastal route from becoming a genuine highway.
  • California Assembly OKs bill to name tunnel north of Golden Gate Bridge after Robin Williams . A bill to name a tunnel connecting the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Bay after the late comedian Robin Williams blasted out of the state Assembly Thursday on a 77-0 vote. The proposed legislation, authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, now heads to the Senate’s Transportation Committee.
  • STA OKs pact for I-80 express lane project. The Solano Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved an agreement for preliminary engineering and final design work on an Interstate 80 express lane project from Red Top Road to Interstate 505. The authority’s board, by a unanimous vote, directed staff to enter into an agreement with AECOM Technical Services Inc. for the services, which are not to exceed $12.5 million.

We Have a Winner!

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 26, 2015 @ 9:24 pm PDT

userpic=las-vegasNo, I’m not referring to gambling while I’m in Vegas, although I did win 50¢ on a 5¢ bet at the El Cortez. Rather, I’m referring to my feet.

For the longest time, I’ve had a problem with my feet when I walked too far. Invariably I would start, and by the end of the day I’d have blisters on my littlest toes. Different sneakers, multiple socks, bandaids, moleskin — nothing worked. Until now.

Today, I walked from the Tropicana to Spring Hill Road (basically, Fashion Square/Treasure Island) and back. That’s about 5 miles. I did slightly less on Friday — from Tropicana to Caesars. Not a single blister. What did it? Two simple things: Injinji Toe Socks and Vibram Five Fingers shoes. The only thing sore are my heels, and that’s because the Vibrams have little padding. I’ll wear sneakers with toe socks tomorrow to give them a day of rest.

This confirms the test from ACSAC, where I wore the Vibrams and didn’t have a single blister.

We have a winner. I think I’m going to go out and get a third pair of Vibrams when I’m back in LA.

Astounded and Amazed

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 26, 2015 @ 8:28 am PDT

Penn & Teller at the Riouserpic=las-vegasLast night we saw what is likely to be our last show for this trip: Penn & Teller (FB) at the Rio Hotel and Casino. This is a show we’ve been wanting to see for years; luckily, there were Goldstar tickets available for the period of this trip. I’ve since learned that discounted tickets are often available for Penn & Teller, and often those discounts can land you in the orchestra section, not the mezzanine where we were. Perhaps next time.

Penn & Teller have one of the longest running headliner shows in Vegas – 14 years at the Rio, 29 in Vegas. They debuted in Las Vegas in 1993 and have been performing at the Rio since 2001. The reason for their success is that they are entertaining. But they are not for everyone. If you hate atheists or libertarians, then don’t go to the show. Penn is well known for not being quiet about his beliefs (Teller is known for being quiet about everything). In this show, he is very “in your face” about his beliefs. Reading the Yelp reviews, this offended quite a few attendees; heaven forfend if your beliefs are challenged. Penn also does a lot of talking and introduction to the various tricks. Again, this offended a lot of attendees (looking at the Yelp reviews): if you want a magic act that is all flash and music, as opposed to being somewhat intellectual and preachy, then go somewhere else. Penn & Teller is intellectual magic — they consciously want you to think about their tricks, and then they pull them off leaving you even more astonished at how they did it. Further, they admit upfront that much of this is verbal misdirection… and with this, you still can’t see how they did it. Astonishing.

Penn & Teller is also a show that loves its audience. Although the show is at 9:00PM, they recommend that you arrive around 8:00 PM. This is because they open the doors about 8:20 PM, and the audience is entertained by the Mike Jones Trio Duo (FB) (and, if you look closely, you’ll see it is Penn Jillette (FB) playing Bass). The show itself includes loads of audience participation, from before the show when you can sign an envelope and inspect a box, to all of the tricks that involve audience members. Lastly, after the show, both Penn and Teller are available outside the theatre for pictures and “meet and greet”.

The show itself is claimed to include a rotating collection of tricks from the Penn & Teller repertoire. In reality, that is likely yet another trick because they have to have the necessary supporting props and equipment, not to mention the lighting and music cues, ready. They do not provide a list of tricks or a program (well, you can purchase a program for $10). The following are the tricks I recall — I’m not going to describe them in detail to preserve the surprise (they were not presented in this order, but the first and last tricks are what were first and last):

  • Cell-Fish
  • Pulling a Rabbit out of the Hat
  • The Security Card
  • The Physics Card Trick
  • Psychics and Jokes
  • Teller and his Ball
  • One-Minute Egg
  • Teller and the Gold Coins
  • The Shadow Flower
  • Close-Up Magic
  • Nail Gun Memorization
  • Sawing a Woman in Half
  • The Teapot Routine
  • Elsie the Disappearing Spotted Pygmy Elephant
  • Catching a Bullet

The illusions themselves were spotless, and I found the dialogue entertaining. On every illusion, you’ll find yourself wondering how they diverted and deceived you to pull it off.

I’ll note that I read through a lot of the Yelp reviews to bring this write-up together (I didn’t write down the illusions during the show and they don’t provide a list, so I needed to jog my memory. Lots of people did not like this show because it didn’t meet their expectations or match their politics or beliefs, or they found something else to offend them. So, in the spirit of being upfront:

Advisory NoticeAdvisory Notice:  The Penn & Teller show contains significant spouting by Penn Jillette of his political opinions. If you cannot stand Libertarian political positions, or having your political beliefs questioned or made fun of… don’t go. Penn also debunks psychics and belief in God. If that offends you, don’t go. Penn also makes fun of other magicians and those that believe in magic. If that offends you, don’t go. If you paid full price for your tickets, you obviously have more $$ than you need. Remember to visit the Merch store (and buy Mike Jones CD — Merch always supports the artist). If you want splash and flash and lots of pretty magician’s assistants, don’t go. This is a wordy show. If you don’t like Jazz music, arrive just before the show starts. If you want to see things close up, buy VIP seating. There is no video enhancement. This show is at the Rio Hotel and Casino, which is west of the strip (i.e., off-strip) on Flamingo, near the Gold Coast and Palms casinos. There are two shuttles from sibling Caesar’s properties: Ballys/Paris and Harrahs. If you want a show on the strip, don’t go.

We sat in the Mezzanine. This made it difficult to see many of the close-up tricks. Penn & Teller could have used video to enhance the process, but as they point out in the show, there is no guarantee that the video you see is what is happening onstage. Video can easily be manipulated. Most people do not realize that. My suggestion: Bring binoculars. We’ll do that next time.

Penn Gillette announces and introduces the staff and crew at the end of the show. This includes not only the assistant, but the crew that moves stuff on stage, the sound and light people, and the stage manager. However, there does not appear to be a list online; Penn tweeted me that it is in the souvenir program (which costs $10). Alas, I bought the Bill of Rights instead. I’m still looking for the information. [ETA: Information from Penn’s tweet]

Penn & Teller (FB) continue at the Rio Hotel and Casino.until… well, until they don’t. They have an extended contract, and both live in Las Vegas, so expect to see them here for a long time. Their show is well worth seeing (but you should be prepared for what you are getting, and if you don’t want the “preach”, then go somewhere else — there are plenty of “magic” shows in town designed for you). You can purchase full price tickets through the Rio website. You can get discount tickets almost everywhere. We got ours through Goldstar, but they are regularly at Tix4Tonight as well as numerous other sites.   Get their early if you like good Jazz.

Dining Notes: We ate at the All American Bar and Grille at the Rio. The food was tasty, but be forewarned: although they serve a black bean and quinoa burger on a gluten-free bun, the burger itself is not gluten-free. However, you can substitute the GF bun onto their other burgers. Their fries are also not cooked in a dedicated fryer, so substitute something for the fries. You can substitute roasted vegetables, but be forewarned they are overly salted (so ask them to be light on the salt). I’ll also note that the Rio is one of a few casinos that still has Keno runners and a Keno board at the restaurants. I love this — and not only to play with the crayons. I always try to figure out the odds on Keno. It is one of the worst casino games you can play, but figuring out the odds is a good mental exercise.

Small World Note: Walking through the Rio, I happened to run into a work colleague who had just driven up for the weekend. What are the odds. We should have played the slots afterwards.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Depending on whether discount tickets are available, we might go to either Don Rickles at the Orleans or Jeff Dunham at Planet Hollywood…. or we might not.  Los Angeles theatre resumes next weekend with “Loopholes: The Musical” at the Hudson Main Stage (FB) on May 2. This is followed by “Words By Ira Gershwin – A Musical Play” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on May 9 (and quite likely a visit to Alice – The Musical at Nobel Middle School).  The weekend of May 16 brings “Dinner with Friends” at REP East (FB), and may also bring “Violet: The Musical” at the Monroe Forum Theatre (FB) (I’m just waiting for them to show up on Goldstar). The weekend of May 23 brings Confirmation services at TAS, a visit to the Hollywood Bowl, and “Love Again“, a new musical by Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ, at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB).  The last weekend of May brings “Entropy” at Theatre of Note (FB) on Saturday, and “Waterfall“, the new Maltby/Shire musical at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on Sunday. June looks to be exhausting with the bounty that the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) brings (note that all Fringe dates are holds; ticketing doesn’t open until 5/1). June starts with a matinee of the movie Grease at The Colony Theatre (FB), followed by Clybourne Park (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and a trip out to see the Lancaster Jethawks on Sunday. The second weekend of June brings Max and Elsa. No Music. No Children. (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and  Wombat Man (HFF) at Underground Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Marry Me a Little (HFF) by Good People Theatre (FB) at the Lillian Theatre (FB) on Sunday. The craziness continues into the third weekend of June, with Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and Merely Players (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Sunday (and possibly “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) in the afternoon, depending on Hottix availability, although July 4th weekend is more likely). The Fringe craziness ends with Medium Size Me, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Thursday 6/25 and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Saturday. June ends with our annual drum corps show in Riverside on Sunday. July begins with “Murder for Two” at the Geffen Playhouse (FB) on July 3rd, and possibly Matilda. July 11th brings “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB). The following weekend is open, although it might bring “As You Like It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) (depending on their schedule and Goldstar).  July 25th brings “Lombardi” at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB), with the annual Operaworks show the next day. August may bring “Green Grow The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB), the summer Mus-ique show, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” at  The Colony Theatre (FB). After that we’ll need a vacation! As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

 

An Institution Cast in Bronze, Butt….

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 24, 2015 @ 10:35 am PDT

Crazy Girls (Riviera)userpic=las-vegasIf you haven’t figured it out by now, one of my interests is the history of Las Vegas — in particular, the history of the strip and major casinos in the pre-Mirage era. My folks had their honeymoon at the Desert Inn in 1956, and I remember staying at both the Sahara and the Aladdin in the 1970s. There aren’t many of the old hotels left — practically nothing on the strip from the founding era with the exception of some two-story rooms at the Tropicana, and the hotel at the heart of the Riviera. That list gets even smaller on Star Wars Day, May the 4th, when the Riviera Hotel and Casino closes at noon (followed by a liquidation sale two weeks after), to be replaced by more convention center space. As we’re in vacation two weeks before the Riv closes, that meant that a “must see” was a show at the Riviera. The show we chose is at the heart of the Riv’s identity– a show that just celebrated its 28th anniversary. It is a show that is honored with a special bronze casting (FB) at the front of the hotel. That show is Crazy Girls (FB), a 75-minute topless dance/burlesque show.

Writing up this show is somewhat difficult. The show has a rotating cast (no pun intended), and there is no cast list or credit list provided to the audience or posted on the Crazy Girls website. There is also no scene list. External reviews (such as on Yelp) are across the board, and seem overly subjective: complaints about lip-synching (which is common in such shows), complaints about lack of breasts, complaints about what isn’t shown, complaints about the lighting. I’ll do my best to eliminate such subjectivity and to ferret out what information I can.

Crazy Girls should be looked upon as a dance/burlesque show. The girls are hired for their looks, for their dance ability, and for their performance skills (and probably in that order). Most of the dancing is to recorded tracks, and the girls lip-synch to those tracks. A few numbers (the ones where the girls have a microphone) feature actual singing.  Although 7-8 girls appear to be on-stage (I think the number is 7, but most of the ads show 8), the actual dancing cast is larger and provides the ability for girls to rotate in and out on any given day. As each girl has a tailored solo, that means some dance numbers rotate in and out as well. There is also a magician who shows up at a few points, both to entertain the audience and to provide the girls time to do more involved costume transformations.

I’m an avid theatre nut, and have been to a few pure dance shows. This was my first topless show (or second, depending on how you view Zumanity). To me — an older, jaded, 30-year married, Los Angeles guy — I didn’t find it all that sexy or outrageous. But I believe my judgement was skewed, and the show doesn’t seem tuned to my sensibilities. I was watching it focusing on the dancing and the performance, and enjoying watching the movement of the musculature, the artistry of the bodies, the glory of the dance. Many of the rest of the audience seemed to be more of the “mid-west” sensibility where this was something out of the ordinary and titillating — they were screaming and hooting at appropriate points, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The version we saw is supposedly a “new” version. Evidently, the show declined for a period in the early 2000s along with the Riv, and was revitalized and reinvigorated for the 25th anniversary. It worked, in my opinion. I found the show quite enjoyable. There were some aspects I was less-than-crazy about, but I also understand they are burlesque conventions (so I went along with it). Those aspects: the clearly non-realistic wigs and the lip-synching. I think that’s more because I truly want to see the real performer — the girl, the dancer, the singer, the actor, the talent. Any girl can strip, put on a wig, and lip-synch.  I want the performance to make clear what these girls have that is special, and that is something other than physical endowments and beauty.

Luckily, this shows does provide those glimpses. It highlights the very strong dance and movement skills of the girls — and those are a delight to watch. There are some routines where the girls seem to be working without any wigs (i.e., when they show up with normal brunette hair), and those seem to provide extra enhancements to the beauty. If you watch the mirror to see the girls from the back as they perform, you can see the muscles they have developed, and can gain a greater appreciation of the work that goes into performance these dance numbers. Many numbers are quite acrobatic. Thinking about it, the athleticism makes this a much less expensive version of Zumanity — strong lightly-erotic dance and performance.

Piecing together the various articles on the show provides some good descriptions of the scenes and numbers, although not in order. The show opens with a number actually sung by Michelle (last names are not used, I’ve been told, for security reasons).  Other scenes include Lisa miming Eartha Kitt’s “How Could You Believe Me?”, and a kinky S&M number to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” There are also stripper-pole dances to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” and a girl-meets-girl scene. Another number cited that I remember is “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets”. There is also Danielle dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” and a group of four who started on a revolving wheel to Oscar Benton’s “Bensonhurst Blues.” All the girls perform a cowgirl number to Sheba Potts Wright’s “I Need A Cowboy to Ride My Pony”. Another number in the show is Peggy Lee’s “Why Don’t You Do Right?”. Rachel also pays homage to burlesque with her rendition of “Nasty Naughty Boy.” I checked with the show, and the girls at our performance were Danielle (dance captain) Sarah, Janell, Missy, Lisa, Melissa, Rachel, and Michelle (singer).  According to one article I found, for many of the girls, this is a second job: The hours (come in to work at 8:30 PM, leave at 11) provides the ability for day work or school. [Edited to indicate the girls at our show, based on information from the Crazy Girls staff]

[One other observation that struck me about the girls: they were all tall and white (perhaps one Asian). This could be an homage to Crazy Horse, where all the girls look the same. However, the advertising shows one black dancer. It could be that (as the show is winding down at the Riv) the cast has shrunk. Still, it bothered me. I believe that if we are going to have a show that celebrates the beauty of women (as these shows do), they should celebrate all colors and ethnicities. This might also broaden the potential audience of the show. I’d love to also see the show broaden beyond all colors and ethnicities to all shapes and sizes as well, as I feel that all women are beautiful and can show that beauty through dance… but I also know that’s not likely to happen given the Vegas crowds.]

Intermingled with the girls dances are some simple magic acts and jokes by Tony Douglas (FB) cabaret-magic standards in 15 minutes. The most novel is a straitjacket escape to stop a borrowed ring from falling into a whirring blender. These tricks were simple and cute, including interactions with a groom-to-be in a humorous magic routine, and another interaction with a bride-to-be in a different routine. What I liked best was probably the simplest routine: the drawing that came to life. There were some adult jokes that fell a little flat, but again, that’s burlesque tradition.

There are no technical credits provided; the show indicated that the Choreographer and Producer were responsible for the technical aspects. The sound, thankfully, did not overpower. The lighting was effective in providing both distraction and camouflage, which probably annoyed the hornier audience members. They need to get over it — a show like this is about the tease, not full disclosure. If you want that, there are plenty of places on Industrial or west of the freeway. There were some flares out to the audience that were a little annoying, particularly in the “Fuck You” number.  But in general, the lighting worked well to augment the dance. Scenery was simple: dancing in front of a mirror with appropriate props to support the dance. Costumes were by Jean Corporon and Holly McKinnis  (a credit I found from a story profiling them), and were appropriate revealing… while being not revealing. In other words, they were sexy, allowed for quick display of what the girls wanted to be displayed, but had sufficient design to hide what needed to remain hidden. Crazy Girls was choreographed (and managed) by Jennifer Stowe (FB), who is married to the show’s producer, Norbert Aleman (FB).

At the production we saw, the show was about 30% sold — and that’s with aggressive marketing. Whether that is due to impending demise of the Riviera,the lack of advertising from the Riv, the weakness of the North end of the Strip (there’s not much left there with the hulk of the Fountainblu, the closure and demolishment of the Frontier and Stardust — really only SLS, Circus Circus, and Westgate are left). Crazy Girls performs its last Riv show on May 1st. There are statements that the show will move to another venue, but nothing specific has been announced. Yet. [ETA 4/29: They have announced a new venue: The Sin City Theatre at Planet Hollywood…. and they get to keep the bronze butts]

If you move fast, you can get tickets (and discount tickets) for Crazy Girls before they close. Check with the Riv, check with Tix4Tonight, or check with most discounters.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: We have one more show booked in Vegas: Penn & Teller at the Rio. Other shows that are possibilities are either Don Rickles at the Orleans or Jeff Dunham at Planet Hollywood.  Los Angeles theatre resumes in May with “Loopholes: The Musical” at the Hudson Main Stage (FB) on May 2. This is followed by “Words By Ira Gershwin – A Musical Play” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on May 9 (and quite likely a visit to Alice – The Musical at Nobel Middle School).  The weekend of May 16 brings “Dinner with Friends” at REP East (FB), and may also bring “Violet: The Musical” at the Monroe Forum Theatre (FB) (I’m just waiting for them to show up on Goldstar). The weekend of May 23 brings Confirmation services at TAS, a visit to the Hollywood Bowl, and “Love Again“, a new musical by Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ, at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB).  The last weekend of May brings “Entropy” at Theatre of Note (FB) on Saturday, and “Waterfall“, the new Maltby/Shire musical at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on Sunday. June looks to be exhausting with the bounty that the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) brings (note that all Fringe dates are holds; ticketing doesn’t open until 5/1). June starts with a matinee of the movie Grease at The Colony Theatre (FB), followed by Clybourne Park (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and a trip out to see the Lancaster Jethawks on Sunday. The second weekend of June brings Max and Elsa. No Music. No Children. (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and  Wombat Man (HFF) at Underground Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Marry Me a Little (HFF) by Good People Theatre (FB) at the Lillian Theatre (FB) on Sunday. The craziness continues into the third weekend of June, with Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and Merely Players (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Sunday (and possibly “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) in the afternoon, depending on Hottix availability, although July 4th weekend is more likely). The Fringe craziness ends with Medium Size Me, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Thursday 6/25 and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Saturday. June ends with our annual drum corps show in Riverside on Sunday. July begins with “Murder for Two” at the Geffen Playhouse (FB) on July 3rd, and possibly Matilda. July 11th brings “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB). The following weekend is open, although it might bring “As You Like It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) (depending on their schedule and Goldstar).  July 25th brings “Lombardi” at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB), with the annual Operaworks show the next day. August may bring “Green Grow The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB), the summer Mus-ique show, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” at  The Colony Theatre (FB). After that we’ll need a vacation! As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.