Observations Along the Road

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

Highway Headlines for August 2014

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Aug 31, 2014 @ 7:47 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingAh, the end of summer is upon us. The end of the summer roadtrips, and the end of the fights in Congress over the highway bill. Here are some headlines regarding California highways that have caught my eye:

  • I-405 Project Moves Forward. Efforts to improve one of the most heavily traveled freeway segments in the nation will continue to move forward following recent decisions by Caltrans. On July 25, Caltrans informed OCTA that the I-405 Improvement Project should include the Measure M commitment of one regular lane in each direction and add high-occupancy toll lanes at a later date.
  • Smart highway aims to cut congestion on westbound I-80. The Bay Area’s next big highway project promises to cut congestion and reduce accidents in the East Bay on westbound Interstate 80, which consistently ranks as the region’s lousiest commute – and it’s due to be finished early next year. Working at night, crews will install 11 huge gantries – metal sign frames – that stretch across all westbound lanes of the freeway in the most consistently congested and collision-ridden stretch, from Richmond to Emeryville. Those gantries will hold an array of signs giving drivers information to help them steer clear of accidents, debris and blocked lanes. It will even let them know if it would be faster to take public transit.
  • Freeway median gates completed. The next time traffic is stopped on I-10 between The Pass and Palm Springs, drivers won’t be stuck in their vehicles listening to hours of ’80s rock, country music or talk radio and eating gum and breath mints for lunch. With the construction of five median gates, drivers can now be turned around to bypass the traffic when there is a major backup.
  • Work Begins to Put Huge Park on Top of the 101 in Hollywood. Get excited Hollywood, because you are one step closer to having a huge park on top of the 101 Freeway. Friends of Hollywood Central Park, the group spearheading the plan, has finally gotten started on the first official step—environmental review process—according to a statement: “This brings us one big step closer toward achieving the long-held dream of building this much-needed park in the heart of Hollywood,” says the executive director. The 38-acre park would run over about a mile of highway, from Santa Monica Boulevard to Bronson Avenue, and hopefully “create a street-level urban park that reunites communities separated by the Hollywood Freeway more than sixty years ago.”
  • Road widening project nears completion. As the Jameson Canyon Highway 12 project begins to wind down (and what a wonderful project it is), we need to reflect upon those involved in the early stages.
  • I-5 expansion gets big green light. A plan that would expand North County’s Interstate 5 and coastal rail service won unanimous approval from the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday, giving the long-planned and controversial project one of its most important and final victories.
  • Petition created to rename Waldo Tunnel after Robin Williams. Rather than memorializing a 19th century nobody, the Waldo Tunnel and its rainbow arches north of the Golden Gate Bridge ought to honor actor and comedian Robin Williams, who became famous while wearing rainbow suspenders.
  • Can we cap the 101 freeway with a 44-acre park?. Floods of cars hurdle through the canyon along the 101 in Hollywood, spitting pollutants. Heat radiates from miles of asphalt and concrete buildings, and weary apartments line the chasm. But when Los Angeles native Laurie Goldman gazes over the twisting gray expanse, a part of town pedestrians rarely visit, all she can see is green. “I look at the freeway, and I only see the park,” she said.
  • California Highway and Interstate Historic Photos .
  • Oakland gets $6 million in state funding for transportation projects. The city of Oakland was awarded $6.1 million Thursday by the California Transportation Commission to implement two key projects in a state program designed to encourage non-motorized transportation. The money is part of a total of $221 million that the state commission awarded to 145 projects across California.
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Weak Broth, Meaty Chunks: Hugs, Water, Malls, and Drills

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 30, 2014 @ 11:17 am PDT

Observation StewI was on vacation last week. This meant that I was out doing things — or more purposefully, not doing things — and not on the computer. There were a few articles that caught my eye… and most are worthy of some discussion:

  • What’s A Matter With Kids These Days. I was really taken — and saddened — by this opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. It talked about how camp counselors these days can no longer hug our kids. It made me long for the simpler days of my childhood — when children could run around neighborhoods, and emotion could be shown. I was a camp counselor, and there were times you hugged your kids because there was that strong relationship, or they needed comforting and you were the ersatz parent substitute. But the fear of litigation and the fear of predators — and in general, the whole business of promoting fear — has made us afraid to do it, and afraid of the litigation that might result if the child tells their parents. It’s sad that our society today is like that. But, on the other hand, do I want that simpler society? On vacation, I read the book “Space” by James Michner, and it was a bit prescient in predicting the growth of religion, the growth in the people who believe that the Bible is science, and the growth of the hatred of others. Wanting simpler days is code for not wanting the complexity and difficulties science brings. Technology — either in the form of the Internet or TV reporting — has brought the predators out into the open. Whether there are more now than before is unknown, but we see them now and we talk about them more. We’re still on the fear side of the pendulum swing, but I hope the day will come when we don’t have to worry about the predators, and those who are caregivers to children can feel safe comforting them with a hug. A fist bump just doesn’t cut it.
  • With Money Comes Water. California is in a bad drought. We’ve had them before, and this is likely cyclical, but the situation seems worse than before. This is likely because there is a greater awareness of groundwater depletion — in previous droughts, we just worried about the reservoir levels and assumed there was plenty of groundwater. We now know this isn’t the case; wells in East Porterville CA have already gone dry and they are living on bottled water. Further, there is the quest for oil and the use of fracking to get it — they believe it is safe, but it has contaminated ground water before. Just imagine how bad a drought would be if we couldn’t augment reservoirs with groundwater. So it is a little galling to read articles like this one: “Lifestyles of the Rich and Parched: How the Golden State’s 1 percenters are avoiding the drought.” They waste the water because they can afford to waste the water, or they pay to truck in additional water so they can continue their profligate ways. This is wrong. We hope that the people we tend to present as celebrities will also serve as role models; it is sad when they do not.
  • Ah, for the Days of Bratskeller and College Books. There are many who feel that one of the factors leading to the demise of Westwood as a college town was the rebirth of the Third Street Prominade in Santa Monica (others blame it on the gang violence that overtook Westwood in the 1990s, or the outrageous rents that are charged). We forget that the Prominade was once as forlorn as Westwood. Here’s what the Prominade looked like in the 1960s and 1970s, before the days of the Gap and Santa Monica Place. Let’s hope that the community in Westwood can revitalize that community as Santa Monica did.
  • Drilling Down This last article is a little less thought provoking, and a bit more referential. However, some might call it revolutionary, and others might just say I should chuck it. I fear that if I keep with these puns, someone will give me the shaft. But I make them still, because the guide is a guide to drill bits and drilling. That reminds me… I’m seeing the dentist on Friday.

 

Putting It Out There For All To See

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:31 am PDT

Pageant (Cygnet Theatre)userpic=theatre_ticketsAll summer, I’ve been reading about the off-Broadway musical “Pageant, which has been getting strong reviews. When I started planning our vacation (which, of course, includes investigating the theatre in the area), I discovered that “Pageant” wasn’t only running off-Broadway, it was running off-Los Angeles. Translation: the Cygnet Theatre (FB) in Old Town San Diego was presenting “Pageant, and it was running during our vacation window. Furthermore, discount tickets were available through San Diego Arts Tix. I booked it, and last night saw us in Old Town watching a bunch of beauty queens on stage… and when I say “queens”… you’ll see…

Pageant” is a musical about a beauty pageant. Now there aren’t too many musicals focused on that narrow subject; the only other one that comes to mind is Ashman and Hamlisch’s 1986 flop “Smile, a musicalization of the 1975 Michael Ritchie comedy movie starring Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon. “Pageant” is much less story driven — there is no overall arc to the characters, there is no character growth, there is no conflict, there is no backstage drama. “Pageant” is simply what it appears to be — a beauty pageant on stage sponsored by a cheezy beauty product company, with the requisite pageant components (opening walk, evening gown competition, swimsuit competition, talent competition, spokes-model competition) all presided over by a swarmy host. So what makes “Pageant” special? First, the winner is not pre-selected but is chosen by audience members.  More importantly, all of the female beauty contestants… are played by men. It is this latter aspect that drives much of the humor of the show. It creates the double entendres, it adds to the cheesy talent portions, it makes the spokes-model portions hilarious. But it is, at its heart, a gimmick. It’s funny, but in a “if you find that sort of thing funny” kind-of way.

If one was to look at “Pageant” without the gender-bending aspect, what would remain? There would still be a fair amount of skewering of the beauty pageant conventions, from the production numbers that make no sense to the warped notions of beauty that beauty product companies promote. There would be the talent competitions that, often, contain little to no talent. There would be the inside jokes that only those familiar with the pageant word (or those that have watched a lot of pageants) would understand. There would also be the music. What there wouldn’t be was… story. As noted earlier, the book by Bill Russell (of “Side Show” fame) and Frank Kelly (of “The Texas Chainsaw Musical“, umm, fame) (conceived by Robert Longbottom) creates very one dimensional characters — really caricatures — of some broad types and leaves it at that. The evangelical bible belt girl. The kooky California girl. The Southern belle. The musicalization (lyrics by the book writers; music by Albert Evans (of “The Texas Chainsaw Musical” and “Nite Club Confidential” fame)) provides cute production numbers, but nothing that sticks with you as you walk out, or that even provides a modicum of character development. In short, I think the skewering of beauty pageant conventions was handled much better in “Smile” — this is really a gimmicky farce, and it is best to go into the show understanding and expecting that farce is what you are going to get.

As for the gimmick itself, I question its use in this day and age. Contrast the two shows we saw this week in San Diego. In “Two Gentlemen of Verona“, we have a women dressing up as a man to pass as a man, not for humor. In Pageant, we have men dressing as women because it is ostensibly funny. After all, it was funny when Alban did it in La Cage, and it was funny when the two leads did it in Sugar, so we’ll just go with the trend. But Sugar (the musicalization of Some Like It Hot) was done in the 1970s; La Cage in the 1980s. This is 2014; it is the era of RuPaul, drag-queen chic, and acceptance of transgendered and gender-changing people. So is this show a relic of when it was written (1991)? Do our contestants need to be as close as possible to real women, or is the joke that they think they look beautiful? Then again, the point could just be that we’re judging too much — as pageants often do — on the superficial features.

When viewed as a flat farce, the show does much better. Perhaps the best judge of the farcical nature of the show was the audience at our show, where the entire front row consisted of contestants/winners from the Royal World Beauty Pageant (FB). These gals were cracking up and laughing throughout the show. Their handlers, however, appeared less amused. Sitting across from us were two women in purple — one who was really enjoying the show, and the other (who may have been the president of the RWI organization) who seemed to go back and forth from enjoyment to a “grumpy cat” look. As for us, there were portions that were laugh out loud funny, and there were portions that made you feel like the audience at “Springtime for Hitler” (i.e., did they really do “that”). In short, I believe this is humor aimed at a particular audience.

After all of this, I guess I should describe the show. As the show opens, we meet our master of ceremonies, Frankie Cavalier, and the Glamouresse Pageant Girls: Miss Industrial Northeast, Miss Bible Belt, Miss West Coast, Miss Deep South, Miss Texas, and Miss Great Plains. Frankie selects 5 audience members as judges. The competition then starts in earnest, with evening gowns (pictured below in the image I grabbed from the Cygnet Press Site). We then go through the talent competition for each of the girls, interspersed (every 2 girls) with a spokes-model pitch of some ridiculous Glamouresse product. After all the talent segments are done, there is another production number done by Frankie Cavalier about the pageant in the future (which has him in a very odd costume with a very large codpiece). This number ends with the girls in their white, one-piece swimsuits for the swimsuit competition, which also provides the opportunity to hear their inner thoughts. Once this is done, the “Miss Congeniality” prize is given and the six girls are down selected to five. There is then a tribute to the outgoing queen (the downselected girl, redressed), and a final competition. This last competition consists of the girls answering questions from the “Glamour Help Line”. At this point, the audience judges are polled to determine 2nd runner up, 1st runner up, and the winner. There is the winner presentation and the closing song, and the show is done.

Pageant - Cast (Cygnet Theatre) - Photo by Daren ScottThe picture to the right shows the cast of the show: Miss Deep South (David McBean (FB)), Miss Bible Belt (Ryan Fahey (FB)), Miss Texas (Charles Osborne (TW, FB)), Frankie Cavalier (Phil Johnson (FB)), Miss Industrial Northeast (Max Cadillac (FB)), Miss West Coast (Luke Jacobs Harvey/FB), and Miss Great Plains (Conor Tibbs (FB)) [photo by Daren Scott from the the Cygnet Press Site]. Let’s look at each of the girls closely, and what I remember the morning after the show.

  • Miss Deep South (David McBean (FB)) had, for me, one of the funniest talent portions with a great ventriloquism routine. At our performance, she didn’t win, and she had a wonderful display of bad sportsmanship (which was fun to watch). IIRC, she was our second runner up.
  • Miss Bible Belt (Ryan Fahey (FB)) came off as a little too preachy (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I particularly liked her Glamouresse spokes-model segment with the beauty spackle (and the cross drawn into it), and her response on the help line. She also had a good gospel number for her talent routine. She was our first runner-up
  • Miss Texas (Charles Osborne (TW, FB)) was the winner at our show, although when she first came out, I thought she had a mustache (it turned out to be lighting and bad upper lip makeup). Her tap dancing talent segment was wonderful.
  • Miss Industrial Northeast (Max Cadillac (FB)) was my least favorite girl of the piece, with a strong overdone Spanish accent. Her spokes-model segment was quite funny, as was her phone response. Warning: In her talent segment, she plays the accordion.
  • Miss West Coast (Luke Jacobs Harvey/FB) had a hilarious talent segment (I need some brain bleach for that birth scene), followed by a great spokes-model segment.
  • Miss Great Plains (Conor Tibbs (FB)) had a really strange poem about the land for her talent segment.

As the swarmy host, Frankie Cavalier, Phil Johnson (FB) did an excellent job, and was hilarious in the Venus 3000 number.

The production was directed and choreographed by James Vasquez (FB), who turned these men into somewhat believable beauty contestants (although my wife felt that RuPaul was needed to get the female mannerisms down right for all but Miss Deep South).  Don Lemaster (FB) was the musical director.

Turning to the technical side: The set design by Sean Fanning (FB) was a suitably glamorous pageant stage with the appropriate amount of shimmer and steps. The lighting design by Michelle Caron (FB) demonstrated very clever use of moving mirror lights — they were used in a manner equivalent to normal movers, which I’ve never seen before. The other lighting worked well to focus attention. General properties were designed by Angelica Ynfante (FB), with the special Glamouress properties designed by Michael McKeon (FB). These were extremely clever — both the talent show props such as the “target” for Miss Texas, to all the wonderful Glamouress products that were demonstrated — the lip gloss food, the double ended aerosol can, the facial powder vacuum, the snap odor eliminators. Costumes were by Shirley Pierson (FB) assisted by Kate Stallons (FB) and Kristine Kerr (FB); makeup and hair was by Peter Herman (FB). The costumes, in general, were cute and clever and served to conceal that which must be concealed if one is a man playing a woman (especially in a swimsuit). Some, such as Cavalier’s Venus 3000 getup, were just inspired (especially the codpiece). Makeup was a little less inspired, simply because these faces were not done up in a manner that preserved the female illusion. Perhaps that was intentional, but sometimes it was over or under done to distraction. The wigs, in general, worked well (at least I couldn’t tell they were obviously wigs). Taylor Wycoff (FB) was the Dramaturg, although I have absolutely no idea what a dramaturg does on an established show like this. Heather M. Brose (FB) was the stage manager, assisted by Marguerite Sugden/FB. Sean Murray (FB) is the Artistic Director of Cygnet.

Pageant” only has a few more shows left; it closes on August 31. Tickets are available through the Cygnet Theatre Box Office; they may also be available through San Diego ArtsTix or through Goldstar.

Dining Notes: You’re in Old Town. There’s tons of reasonable Mexican places at which to eat.

[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 Theatre and Concerts:  August will end with “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” at REP East (FB). September is filling out. So far, the plans include “Earth/Quaked starring Savion Glover” as part of Muse/ique in Pasadena on Sun 9/7,  “Moon Over Buffalo” (Goldstar) at the GTC in Burbank on Sat 9/13, Bat Boy: The Musical” at CSUN for the Friday night before Slichot (9/19), “The Great Gatsby” at Repertory East (FB) on Sun 9/21,  “What I Learned in Paris” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 9/27. October, so far, only has one show: “Pippin” at the Pantages (FB) on 10/25, although I’m looking at “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at the Group Rep (FB) for either Sat 10/11 or Sat 10/18 (when Karen is at PIQF). November is back to busy, with dates held or ticketed for “Big Fish” at Musical Theatre West (FB) on Sat 11/1, “Handle with Care” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 11/8 (shifting to avoid ACSAC), a trip out to Orange Empire Railway Museum to see my buddy Thomas on 11/11,  “Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club” at REP East (FB) on Sat 11/15, the Nottingham Festival on Sun 11/16, and “Kinky Boots” at the Pantages (FB) on Sat 11/29. I’d love to get down to San Diego to see either (or both) of “Bright Star“, the new Steve Martin/Edie Brikell musical, at The Old Globe Theatre (FB) (September 13-November 2), or “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (based on the Disney film) at The La Jolla Playhouse (FB) (October 25-December 2), but I’m not sure either would work in the schedule.  As for December, right now I’m just holding one date: “She Loves Me” at Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim on 12/20. 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.

Love is in the Summer Air

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 25, 2014 @ 11:08 am PDT

Two Gentlemen of Verona (Old Globe)userpic=twogentlemenMy favorite musical of all time is “Two Gentlemen of Verona“, which I saw at the Ahmanson Theatre back in 1973. It never fails to cheer me up. So when I learned that the author of the piece, a guy named Bill Shakespeare, had also written a non-musical version, I was curious. I then learned that The Old Globe Theatre (FB) in San Diego would be presenting a production of the show… while we were in the area on vacation. As we don’t stop going to theatre while on vacation… well, guess where we were last night :-). That’s right … we were seeing one of Bill’s earliest comedies, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona“.

Shakespeare has two types of plays: tragedies, where everyone dies at the end, and comedies, where everyone falls in love at the end. TGOV is one of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, with no deep meetings, just light fun. TGOV tells the story of two best friends: Proteus and Valentine. As they graduate from their academy, the choose different directions for their lives: Valentine goes off to find fame and fortune working for the Duke of Milan in Milan, while Proteus remains in Verona to woo the women he has fallen in love with: Julia. Although Julia initially sees nothing in him, her woman-servant Lucetta convinces her to give him a chance. They pledge their undying love for each other, and give each other rings as tokens. But Proteus’ father wants him to have more experience, so he chooses to send him to Milan to join his friend, Valentine. Meanwhile, Valentine has arrived in Milan and fallen in love with the Duke’s daughter, Sylvia… who the Duke has promised to Turio, a foppish, foolish, and rich suitor. Sylvia, however, has fallen for Valentine and secretly bethrothed herself to him. When Proteus arrives in Milan, Valentine tells Proteus of his love and his plans to elope. All changes when Proteus sees Sylvia, for he then falls in love with her as well. Proteus plots to win her affections, discredit Valentine, and discredit Turio. He informs the Duke of the plans to elope, and gets Valentine banished. He then proposes to win Sylvia for Turio, all the while trash-talking Turio and up-talking himself. Sylvia will have none of it, for Valentine has told her of Proteus’ love for Julia, and she wants Proteus to love Julia, not Sylvia. Meanwhile, Julia has decided she cannot live without Proteus, and so she dresses as a man to go to Milan. Proteus hires Julia, who he knows as Sebastian, to carry his messages to Sylvia. In doing so, Julia sees that Sylvia will have nothing to do with Proteus. Meanwhile, after Valentine is banished, he takes up with a band of ruffians in the forest, becoming their general. Meanwhile (there are lots of meanwhiles), Sylvia has made plans with a former suitor, Sir Eglamore, to rescue her and take her to Valentine. When they are in the forest, the ruffians attack them. Eglamore runs off and the ruffians take Sylvia to their general (Valentine), but on the way, Proteus rescues her. She still refuses him, and Proteaus starts to physically take her. Valentine then breaks them up, and Proteus repents. Valentine then gives Sylvia to Proteus, which forces Sebastian (Julia) to reveal herself, which brings Proteus to Julia and Valentine to Sylvia. Turio then shows up and proves himself to be a coward, so the Duke goes along with the pairings. Add to this the two man servants — Speed, assistant to Valentine, and Launce (who is more in love with his dog, Crab). These three (two men and the dog) provide comic relief throughout the piece.

This was my first time seeing the original. As I watched the story, I kept comparing it with the NYSF 1973 production storyline. Many things were different: Proteus did not get Julia pregnant; Julia didn’t travel with Lucetta; there appeared to be no strong pre-relationship between Sylvia and Eglamore; and the Duke had a much smaller role. The timeline was also changed. I’m guessing these changes were in the original, although it is possible that The Old Globe made slight changes in the story to condense it down to a 90 minute, one-act production (although, reading the Wikipedia summary, it looks more like the NYSF added to and reworked the story slightly). I also found that my familiarity with the story made the initial language hurdle smaller — I was able to follow the story because I knew the basic outlines. I find this is useful for Shakespeare — seeing Kiss Me Kate or Atomic Shakespeare helps with Taming of the Shrew, and I’m sure familiarity with The Lion King helps with Hamlet. Many things in the show were the same, and I discovered that many of the songs were literal from Shakespeare. The show itself was fun and well performed, and very accessible. This was the kind of show that made me want to see more Shakespeare. For all that, however, this show is rarely produced and many consider it to be one of Shakespeare’s weakest plays (they feel it may have been his first and shows his immaturity as a playwright). The best answer is to decide for yourself. This well-performed production would be a good place to start.

Two Gentlemen of Verona - Old Globe - Publicity Photos by Jim CoxThe leads were very strong (note: the photos to the right are from the Old Globe publicity site, and were taken by Jim Cox). As Proteus, Adam Kantor (TW, FB) projected an engaging personality that gave himself whole-heartedly to love; as his compatriot Valentine, Hubert Pont-Du Jour was even more engaging and warm with just a wonderful air of likeability. Of course, I was more taken with their loves. Both Kristin Villanueva (FB) as Julia and Britney Coleman (TW, FB) as Sylvia had smiles that could just melt your heart, and both did a great job of projecting the personalities of these women as more than just characters on a page. These four were just a joy to watch — they had the chemistry to make them believable as couples, and they seemed to just enjoy inhabiting these characters. I also found it interesting that Old Globe continued in the NYSF colorblind casting tradition — in particular with a black Valentine and Sylvia, just as in the musical I love.

Supporting Proteus and Valentine as their aides/servants were Rusty Ross (FB) as Speed, Richard Ruiz (FB) as Launce, and Khloe Jezbera as Crab. Both of the men gave appropriately comic performances — Ross was suitably manic; Ruiz was more old-school comic; and both were delightful in the scene reading about Launce’s milkmaid love. Khloe was a scene-stealer as Crab, behaving perfectly and playfully on stage. The female servants had smaller roles: As Lucetta, Erin Elizabeth Adams (About the Artists, FB) had a much smaller role than in the musical, but played quite well off of Villanueva’s Julia. Lindsay Brill (TWFB) was Sylvia’s page (as well as an outlaw and a student).

The main supporting characters were Mark Pinter (TWFB) as the Duke of Milan, and Lowell Byers (FB) as Turio (which should have been Thurio), Sylvia’s foolish intended. Pinter captured the authority of the Duke well, but I expected a bit more pomposity as well. Perhaps that’s a difference in the character between the musical and the original. Byers’s Turio came off a little too serious — again, I was expecting a bit more silliness or foppishness. Still, the portrayal worked.

Rounding out the remainder of the cast were: Meaghan Boeing (FB) (Lady-in-Waiting, Music Assistant); Charlotte Bydwell (FB) (Lady-in-Waiting, Dance Captain); Jamal Douglas (FB) (Servant to Antonio, Musician, Outlaw 3, Student); Adam Gerber (FB) (Sir Eglamour, Student); Arthur Hanket (FB) (Antonio, Dancing Master, Outlaw 2); Kushtrim Hoxha (Panthino, Outlaw, Student); Stephen Hu (FB) (Outlaw, Student); Tyler Kent (FB) (Host, Outlaw, Student); Robbie Simpson (TWFB)( (Dancing Instructor to Sylvia, Musician, Outlaw, Student); Megan M. Storti (FB) (Lady-in-Waiting); and Patrick Zeller (FB) (Outlaw 1, Student).

The production was directed by Mark Lamos, who did a great job of bringing the story to life in the simple, old-style stage that is the festival theatre. There was little scenery to set the stage, so to have the different locales come out so well is a testament to good staging.

Turning to the technical side… as I just noted, the scenic design of John Arnone was simple — a number of well-done flats and trees meant to evoke Verona or Milan, but otherwise not interacting with the actors (although the multilevel thrust stage was useful). Linda Cho‘s costumes were beautiful, rich, and well-done, and evoked the appropriate echos of the period (or at least what we think the period to be) while still having touches that grounded them in today. I particularly liked the ruffled collar on the dog. Stephen Strawbridge (FB)’s lighting design illuminated the stage well and set the scene appropriately. Acme Sound Partner‘s sound design did the best that it could to make the actors be heard clearly and to provide appropriate sound effects; alas, it was hampered by the Old Globe’s location near the flight path for San Diego International Airport. Would that the theatre had the clout to stop all flights in and out of the airport during performances. Don’t they know that theatre matters? The original music was by Fitz Patton (FB) and worked well; it would have been nice to interpolate “Who Is Sylvia?” from the NYSF version.  Movement was by Jeff Michael Rubudal (FB) and worked well on the stage, particularly in the dance scenes. Michael Rossmy (FB) was the fight director. David Huber was the voice and text coach. Bret Torbeck (FB) was the stage manager, assisted by Amanda Salmons (FB).

Two Gentlemen of Verona” continues at  The Old Globe Theatre (FB) through Sunday, September 14. Tickets are available through the Old Globe production page. Note that the page does not render correctly under Firefox — you need to scroll down to the bottom to find the information. I was unable to find any discounts for this show on Goldstar or the San Diego Arts Tix.

Dining Notes: For dinner before the show, we crossed the bridge over to Cucina Urbana. We got there early enough that we didn’t need a reservation — this is a good thing as reservations are supposedly hard to get. A foodie place, but not outrageously priced. Karen had a polenta with a ragu that she just loved; I had a wonderful lamb sausage pizza with fontina cheese. Well worth considering before the show.

[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 Theatre and Concerts:  Our next show is on Wednesday: Pageant” at the Cygnet Theatre (FB) in Old Town. August will end with “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” at REP East (FB). September is filling out. So far, the plans include “Earth/Quaked starring Savion Glover” as part of Muse/ique in Pasadena on Sun 9/7,  “Moon Over Buffalo” (Goldstar) at the GTC in Burbank on Sat 9/13, Bat Boy: The Musical” at CSUN for the Friday night before Slichot (9/19), “The Great Gatsby” at Repertory East (FB) on Sun 9/21,  “What I Learned in Paris” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 9/27. October, so far, only has one show: “Pippin” at the Pantages (FB) on 10/25, although I’m looking at “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at the Group Rep (FB) for either Sat 10/11 or Sat 10/18 (when Karen is at PIQF). November is back to busy, with dates held or ticketed for “Big Fish” at Musical Theatre West (FB) on Sat 11/1, “Handle with Care” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 11/8 (shifting to avoid ACSAC), a trip out to Orange Empire Railway Museum to see my buddy Thomas on 11/11,  “Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club” at REP East (FB) on Sat 11/15, the Nottingham Festival on Sun 11/16, and “Kinky Boots” at the Pantages (FB) on Sat 11/29. I’d love to get down to San Diego to see either (or both) of “Bright Star“, the new Steve Martin/Edie Brikell musical, at The Old Globe Theatre (FB) (September 13-November 2), or “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (based on the Disney film) at The La Jolla Playhouse (FB) (October 25-December 2), but I’m not sure either would work in the schedule.  As for December, right now I’m just holding one date: “She Loves Me” at Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim on 12/20. 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.

Saturday Morning Post: A Tasty Stew of News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 23, 2014 @ 10:06 am PDT

Observation StewOK, so I’m nowhere near Benji Franklin or Norm Rockwell. But it is Saturday, and that means it is time to bring out the “mag”… otherwise known as the stew of articles that caught my eye over this busy week:

 

Love Between The Strangest of Strangers

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 18, 2014 @ 7:50 pm PDT

It Happened In Roswell (NoHo Arts Center)userpic=theatre_musicalsHow do you celebrate your anniversary? Dinner? Flowers? Expensive trinkets? This year, we celebrated by going to the theatre, and what we saw turned out to be the perfect anniversary love story to see. It was a story about a quest to find true love, even when the government is after you. Perhaps I should explain…

Two weeks ago, when we were at The Colony Theatre (FB), we saw a postcard for a limited run (8 performances) of a new musical being workshopped by New Musical Inc. This musical won the 2014 Search for New Musicals, as well as the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2008, and the Festival of New Musicals in 2007. Further, it looked like one of those “outer space alien attack” musicals we’ve grown to love, in the genre of “Brain from Planet X“, “It Came From Beyond“, “Zombies from the Beyond“, or even “Return to the Forbidden Planet“. It was playing on our 29th wedding anniversary, and so we thought it might be a kick to go to the show.  So last night, after a wonderful dinner of Puerto Rican food, and even though I was recovering from a migraine, we were at the NoHo Arts Center to see the developmental workshop production of “It Happened in Roswell: An Intergalactic Musical“.

Going in, I expected this musical to be similar to the others we’ve seen — loosely based on a pre-existing cheesy movie, with songs that were more in the novelty vein than moving the story forward. The plots tend to be similar: in act I the alien comes to earth with the intent to attack and enslave the humans, in act II the humans triumph over the aliens. That wasn’t Roswell; at least to me, Roswell was a new and clever twist on the alien visit approach. Here’s the story of It Happened In Roswell, which has book, music, and lyrics by Terrence Atkins (FB) and Jeffery Lyle Segal (FB):

Down on his luck Weird World News reporter Joe “Scoop” O’Reilly and his photographer, Frank, break down outside Roswell, NM. His latest story having been a bust and hearing a report about a flying saucer on the radio, they decide to fabricate a story by taking a picture of a hubcap in the air and pretending there was a saucer. This they do, and they head into town to transmit the picture to their editor. When they arrive they go to Mabel’s Diner, where Mabel Brown and her daughter, Betsy, work. Betsy has been fending off the advances of the Deputy Sheriff Rusty Dobbs with a story of another man (when she really lusts after the flat-footed mechanic, Floyd Dimwitty). When Scoop and Frank arrive, they convince Floyd and Betsy to go to the outskirts of town and tow in their car, while Rusty and another women customer, Edna, go off to find the aliens. When Floyd and Betsy arrive at the car, they discover the actual flying saucer, and the female alien, Nine-O. Nine-O explains that she has come to the planet to find out about love. After making some advances on Floyd, Betsy convinces her to come back to the diner where they will pass her off as her distant cousin, Aileen. This starts a number of sequences in motion including the hunt for the alien, including Frank inventing a hideous-looking alien with tenticles. Scoop wants to get a picture of someone being attacked by the fake alien, so he romances Aileen… with predictable results. Yes, they fall in love with each other. The remainder of the story addresses how they resolve that love, how the various other romances resolve, and how they survive while being changed by Major Nails.

As I stated above, this was a developmental workshop. Every expense was spared in developing the set and props — and it worked to the advantage of the show. The production was presented on the existing set of the NMI musical “Max Factor”, and so the only “scenery” was a “Welcome to Roswell” sign and a few 2x4s that formed a little table. Additionally, there was a table in the back where the actor who played Major Nails set with the script, making all the sound effects. The only props were a flying saucer on a stick, the alien tenticle costume, and loads and loads and loads of loads of little white signs on sticks. These signs had pictures of ray guns, real guns, food, and anything else they needed as a prop… including words and instructions to the audience. We understand the necessity of this due to the workshop nature of the show… but guess what… it worked great. If this show moves on, we recommend they keep this approach for the props — realism might hurt the show (well, unless it really makes it to Broadway, but then it would need the Little Shop of Horrors treatment with full orchestrations and five part harmonies and circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back… oh, wrong song).

So far, we have a unique story and a unique staging. There also was a top-notch cast. In the lead positions (which you know from the opening number) were Julie Tolivar (FB) as Nine-O/Aileen and Rory Dunn (FB) as Scoop. Tolivar’s alien was a delight — she had a lovely naivete combined with an underlying seriousness of purpose that was fun to watch, combined with a very cute and slghtly-sexy costume. She sang very well and had a lovely voice on numbers such as “Nothing Is Stopping Me”, although she would benefit from a bit of amplification. She also danced very well. Equally strong (and according to my wife, sexy) was Dunn’s Scoop. He, too, had an excellent voice and a personality that shone through the character; the two actor’s voices blended beautifully in “Shooting Star” — you could believe these two as a couple. Just fun to watch.

However, I must admit that Tolivar wasn’t my favorite actress in the piece. That honor goes to Amy Bloom (FB) as Betsy, who had a look and a voice and movement that just melted me. It was just a delightful innocence that she portrayed. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she sang wonderfully — especially in combination with the other female voices — Carrie Madsen (FB) as her mother Mabel, and Emma Sperka (FB) as the oversexed Edna. When the three of them sang together in the early number “When Will the Ice Man Come?” — the blending of the voices was just spectacular. Bloom used her delightful innocence quite well, but especially in her scenes with Nathan Ondracek (FB) as Floyd. Ondracek had a light voice that my wife also liked (I’m not a great judge of men’s voices), and it too worked very well in his numbers with Bloom such as “As Free as the Stars”.

Rounding out the cast, as I mentioned before, were Carrie Madsen (FB) as Mabel Brown, and Emma Sperka (FB) as Edna. Both sang and acted well; Madsen had a particularly nice number in “Every Day”. Emerson Boatwright (FB) was a wonderful comic sidekick as Frank, especially in his scenes as the tentacled alien. Matthew Herrmann (FB) played the deputy sheriff with the hots for Betsy very well. Lastly, John McCool Bowers (FB) (who we’ve seen before at both Simi Valley ARTs and Cabrillo), was a hoot #1 as Major Nails, but even more of a hoot (#2) as the sound effects guy in the background during the first act.

Lastly, I want to applaud the actors for having fun with this musical… and for letting the audience share in their joy of performing it. When the actors enjoy the show and the work, it is broadcast to the audience and everyone wins (and an additional thank you to those actors who gave their websites in their bios!)

I’ve said before that It Happened in Roswell, was a musical… so how was the music? I should note that, as a workshop, the sole musical accompaniment was a single piano off to the side. I’m guessing it was Ron Barnett, the Music Director, tickling the ivories. The songs in the show ranged from nice character songs to lovely ballads. There was only one number that was really a novelty number (“The United Forces of Dancing”), but it proved later to be integral to the plot (although not, as you might think, through dancing). It would be interesting to hear the numbers with full orchestration; still, I love rinky-tinky piano and piano only scores (the piano-only version of “I Do! I Do!” is much nicer than the full orchestration).

The choreography was by Susanna Young (FB), who created some lovely dance moves for a workshop production.

Turning to the remaining creatives…  as noted before, there was no set and thus no credited scenic designer. There were master carpenters, however, consisting of the co-author, Terrence Atkins (FB); the Marketing Manager, Gavin Atkins/FB; and Wade Clegg. The inventive props were by Scott Guy, who also co-directed the production (together with Terrence Atkins (FB)). The costumes were by Abel Alvarado (FB) and were quite good for a simple workshop (although, if this were a real production, the Major needed proper boots). The alien tentacled costume was particularly inventive. Jules Bronola was the wardrobe head. Lindsey Mixon (FB) was the casting director (and has the cutest baby, who was visiting at intermission). Pat Loeb was the stage manager.

As this is a developmental workshop, I tried to figure out what requires improvement before it is produced. In fact, it was one of the topics of discussion between my wife and I on the ride home. The answer really depends on where the musical wants to go. In its present form, it is about perfect for an intimate to small-midsize house (e.g., something the size of the Mark Taper Forum, Colony Theatre, or Kirk Douglas). Work might be required were it to go into a larger house, but this would be more fleshing out the movement, choreography, and orchestrations. The larger problem would be one of depth, as this is not a “serious” musical or play. Houses — even intimate venues — that go for the more established and deep stories might be less inclined to produce this. I’m not sure how to fix this, as I feel what makes this musical so fun is the tongue-in-cheek nature. If I had to compare it with something, it might be the “39 Steps” quasi-parody that was on Broadway. It had a sense of manic silly earnestness that helped it succeed, and the approach with the signs created that here. I hope this musical does well; we certainly enjoyed it.

The developmental workshop production of “It Happened in Roswell” has (looks at watch) 3 more performances: tonight at 8pm (better hurry), Sunday August 24, and Monday August 25. Purchase tickets through nmi.org, or visit the show website.

[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 Theatre and Concerts:  Next weekend we’ll be on vacation in Escondido, where there are a number of potential productions… and out of the many available, we have picked Two Gentlemen of Verona” at the Old Globe on Sunday, 8/24, and Pageant” at the Cygnet in Old Town on Wednesday, 8/27.  I’ll note that what they have at the Welk (“Oklahoma“), Patio Theatre (“Fiddler on the Roof“), and Moonlight Stage (“My Fair Lady“) are all retreads and underwhelming. August will end with “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” at REP East (FB). September is filling out. So far, the plans include “Earth/Quaked starring Savion Glover” as part of Muse/ique in Pasadena on Sun 9/7,  “Moon Over Buffalo” (Goldstar) at the GTC in Burbank on Sat 9/13, Bat Boy: The Musical” at CSUN for the Friday night before Slichot (9/19), “The Great Gatsby” at Repertory East (FB) on Sun 9/21,  “What I Learned in Paris” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 9/27. October, so far, only has one show: “Pippin” at the Pantages (FB) on 10/25, although I’m looking at “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at the Group Rep (FB) for either Sat 10/11 or Sat 10/18 (when Karen is at PIQF). November is back to busy, with dates held or ticketed for “Big Fish” at Musical Theatre West (FB) on Sat 11/1, “Handle with Care” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 11/8 (shifting to avoid ACSAC), a trip out to Orange Empire Railway Museum to see my buddy Thomas on 11/11,  “Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club” at REP East (FB) on Sat 11/15, the Nottingham Festival on Sun 11/16, and “Kinky Boots” at the Pantages (FB) on Sat 11/29. As for December, right now I’m just holding one date: “She Loves Me” at Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim on 12/20. 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.

Shifting Views of Home

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Aug 17, 2014 @ 10:13 am PDT

Broadway Bound (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble)userpic=theatre_ticketsBack in the last century — especially in the period between the 50s and the 80s — if you wanted comedy you went to a Neil Simon play or musical. Productions like the “The Odd Couple“, “Hot L Baltimore“, “Plaza Suite“, “Little Me”, “Sweet Charity” and many others were reliable comedy vehicles. Today, however, Simon seems to be forgotten. His plays — which were laugh-a-minute joke fests — are produced far less often. But I’ve always liked Neil Simon, and try to see his plays when I can. I have memories (which I believe to be true) of seeing Simon’s Eugene trilogy when it was first performed in Los Angeles in the 1980s at the Ahmanson (the last show was in 1989, but I think I was getting selected Ahmanson tickets then). More recently, REP East (FB) Playhouse has produced the middle show in the trilogy (I thought they did the first show as well, but can’t find the writeup). When I read that Jason Alexander (who we had recently seen in Las Vegas) was directing a production of the third show in the trilogy, “Broadway Bound“, I started looking for tickets. Luckily, the Odyssey put them up on Goldstar… and so last night saw us in West LA at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (FB), watching the final chapter in the story of Eugene Jerome.

Let me start by giving some background on the Eugene Trilogy itself. The trilogy is a very slightly veiled autobiographical series of plays, with the Eugene Jerome character serving as Simon’s stand-in; Eugene’s brother, Stanley, corresponds to Simon’s brother, Danny. The first chapter explored Eugene’s early days in Brighton Beach; the second chapter explored his growth into writing while in the Army. The third chapter (“Broadway Bound“) obstensibly explores Neil and Danny Simon’s (Eugene and Stanley Jerome’s) first foray into the comedy writing world as they become writers for television. As such, you would expect the focus of “Broadway Bound” to be Eugene — and that’s what I remembered about the play from when I saw it in my 20s.

I’m no longer in my 20s — instead, I’m much closer to the age of Eugene’s parents in the story. Further, I’ve been married just about as long as Eugene’s parents have been married (today is the start of year 30; Eugene’s parents have been married 33 years). Seeing “Broadway Bound” again with an additional 30 years of experience under my belt, I’ve come to realize that this third chapter isn’t a story about Eugene. It really is a story about Kate and Jack, Eugene’s parents. The disintegration of their marriage and the strength of the mother is the focus of this story; Eugene and Stanley propel it along, but their story is a secondary one. Many critics have harped on this as making this story weaker — they’ve cited it as evidence that Simon just tried to pile too much into the story. I think that is more a reaction to the bait-and-switch: you go in expecting another joke-a-minute comedy like “Bixoli“, and discover you are in more of a dramedy exploring the impacts of aging on a family.

When you look at “Broadway Bound” as a comedy — especially if you are expecting the constant jokes of the early Neil Simon — you’ll be disappointed. Although the play is quite funny (although not as funny as last week’s “Buyer and Cellar), you don’t walk out feeling the humor. In the play, the humor comes from Eugene’s observations about life. However, when you look at “Broadway Bound” as that dramedy, it fares quite well. For example, in Ben Epstein (Kate’s father), I clearly see the aging of my mother-in-law — the stubbornness, the forgetfulness, and the unexpected behavior. It reminds me not to get upset at these things, but to find the humor in them. I see elements of long-term relationships I’ve seen in Kate and Jack: how raising children can distance parents; how not talking about problems can push people away from each other; and how the key elements in a relationship is not fidelity, but trust. These are useful lessons, presented with gentle humor. Lastly, the play presents how different parties in a relationship see things in different ways. Kate always see Jack as the young man that he was — the man who noticed her because she danced with George Raft. Jack, on the other hand, sees Kate as she is: a woman who no longer hears him, can discuss things with him, and who is just focused on serving. It shows the growing apart with gentle humor.

As for Eugene and Stanley’s story, it is just the backdrop upon which this relationship story is told. It provides the impetus for the movement of time; it allows Eugene to opine on what is happening. But through the story the characters of Eugene and Stanley never really change. They were comedy writers at the start, and they are comedy writers at the end. The comedy allows them to detach and observe life, but they never learn from it. They can see the humor in what is happening, but can they see the pathos? They also shift in their view of home: it is in this play that Eugene and Stanley (Neal and Danny) move out of the house and being their adult lives, no longer tied to the family drama.

Jason Alexander (FB) adds a number of directoral touches that shows his familiarity with that era from his childhood. Directors can’t influence the written words of the script, but they can influence how they are presented, how the set is decorated and arranged, and the unspoken nuances of the character action. From the absent-minded actions of the mother to the lilts in the movement, Alexander made these people realistic. It was joy to watch.

The presentation was also helped by the talent of the acting ensemble. The youngest generation was portrayed by Ian Alda (FB) as Eugene Jerome and Noah James as Stanley Jerome. Alda demonstrated the talent in his familial lineage — at times he had the winning smile and charm of his famous uncle, and he handled the drama and movement as well as his grandfather. His Eugene was not overly annoying, nor did it channel Matthew Broderick or others that have portrayed the character. James’ Stanley was appropriate boyant, energetic, and crazy. He kept reminding me of someone — I want to say a young Bronson Pinochot. This is a good thing, for he brought the correct intensity to the character.

The parents generation was represented by Gina Hecht (FB) as Kate Jerome, Michael Mantell as Jack Jerome, and Betsy Zajko (FB) as Blanche Morton (Kate’s sister). Hecht has worked with Alexander before, and their familiarity comes through in the easy and realistic way she inhabits Eugene’s mother. She makes the mother believable, with both realistic pain and joy. She brings Kate to life. We see less of Mantell’s Jack, but Mantell’s portrayal makes him come across as … tired. He’s not tired in a depressed way, but its obvious his character is craving more out of life than the same-old same-old, and Kate just doesn’t see that, driving him away. Mantell does a great job of bringing him to life. Lastly, Zajko’s Blanche has a much smaller role (one scene), but she handles that well and believably.

The grandparent’s generation was represented by Allan Miller (FB) as Ben Epstein. He captured the befuddled old man well, but had some wonderful glimpses of his old self in his interactions with Jack.

Turning to the technical side of the presentation: The set design by Bruce Goodrich, combined with the prop design of Katherine S. Hunt (FB), created a wonderful two-level house that appeared to be correctly dressed for the late 1940s. This was augmented with the costume design of Kate Bergh (FB) and the wig design of Marylin Philips to create a realistic place and characters for the story. The sound design by Martin Carrillo (FB) was impressive — particularly the directionality of the subway trains which far too easily could have come from the same speakers as everything else. Leigh Allen (FB)’s lighting also worked well to focus attention when required. Donna Hosseinzadeh (FB) and Amandla Jahava were the assistant directors; Lee Martino (FB) provided the choreography; and Jennifer Palumbo/FB was the stage manager.

Broadway Bound” has been extended, and continues at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (FB) until September 28. I’d get your tickets through the Odyssey box office; it is sold out on Goldstar.

[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 Theatre and Concerts:  Tonight brings a new musical, “It Happened in Roswell: An Intergalactic Musical” at the No Ho Arts Center. Next weekend we’ll be on vacation in Escondido, where there are a number of potential productions… out of the many available, we have picked Two Gentlemen of Verona” at the Old Globe on Sunday, 8/24, and Pageant” at the Cygnet in Old Town on Wednesday, 8/27.  I’ll note that what they have at the Welk (“Oklahoma“), Patio Theatre (“Fiddler on the Roof“), and Moonlight Stage (“My Fair Lady“) are all retreads and underwhelming. August will end with “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” at REP East (FB). September is filling out. So far, the plans include “Earth/Quaked starring Savion Glover” as part of Muse/ique in Pasadena on Sun 9/7,  “Moon Over Buffalo” (Goldstar) at the GTC in Burbank on Sat 9/13, Bat Boy: The Musical” at CSUN for the Friday night before Slichot (9/19), “The Great Gatsby” at Repertory East (FB) on Sun 9/21,  “What I Learned in Paris” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 9/27. October, so far, only has one show: “Pippin” at the Pantages (FB) on 10/25, although I’m looking at “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at the Group Rep (FB) for either Sat 10/11 or Sat 10/18 (when Karen is at PIQF). November is back to busy, with dates held or ticketed for “Big Fish” at Musical Theatre West (FB) on Sat 11/1, “Handle with Care” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 11/8 (shifting to avoid ACSAC), a trip out to Orange Empire Railway Museum to see my buddy Thomas on 11/11,  “Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club” at REP East (FB) on Sat 11/15, the Nottingham Festival on Sun 11/16, and “Kinky Boots” at the Pantages (FB) on Sat 11/29. As for December, right now I’m just holding one date: “She Loves Me” at Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim on 12/20. 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.

The Anniversary Post

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Aug 17, 2014 @ 5:41 am PDT

userpic=anniversaryTwenty-nine years ago today Karen and I got married (in Woodland Hills, by Rabbi John Sherwood Z”L). Here’s looking forward to at least twenty-nine more years…

(to the tune of the “William Tell Overture”)
Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

Pour a cheerful toast and fill it, Happy Anniversary
But be careful you don’t spill it, Happy Anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary
Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

Happy she and happy he, They’re both as happy as can be
Celebrating merrily, their happy anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary
Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

We now state emphatically, it’s happy anniversary
Not another day could be, a happy anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary
Happy (slow)
Happy (slow)
Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy (fast) Anniversary!!!

(Gioacchino Rossini; arr. William Hanna / Joseph Barbera)

Many years ago I saw a post on LJ that suggested an interesting tradition for anniversaries: For each year that you are married, post one thing that you love about your spouse. This year marks year № 29:

  1. I love that she keeps her head in a crisis.
  2. I love that she knows how to calm me down when I start panicking.
  3. I love that she helps me think logically when dealing with big ticket items or expenses.
  4. I love that she knows how to think through situations logically.
  5. I love that she is a very loyal friend, going out of her way to help others.
  6. I love that she is able to express herself very well, and convey information the information to others in ways they can understand.
  7. I love that she is a very good cook, coming up with creative gluten-free dishes.
  8. I love that she is willing to put away the laundry.
  9. I love that she pulls off very nice parties.
  10. I love that she has a good decorating sense.
  11. I love that she cleans up nicely :-)
  12. I love that she puts up with my disappearing off to Boardgame days and my working on the highway pages.
  13. I love the needlecrafting and fabric arts that she does (that is, the results–I’m less enthralled with the stash).
  14. I love that she knows how to deal with our daughter when I’m getting frustrated.
  15. I love that she was active in our daughter’s school life.
  16. I love that she is willing to deal with family situations I don’t want to deal with.
  17. I love that she is willing to deal with contractors and repair critters.
  18. I love that she doesn’t spend too much on quilting and fabric supplies :-).
  19. I love that she has similar tastes in friends to me.
  20. I love that she enjoys going to the theatre with me.
  21. I love that she understands that I’m not romantically inclined.
  22. I love that she puts up me when I’m dealing with my headaches.
  23. I love her compatible music tastes.
  24. I love that she’ll take my car in to get serviced, as opposed to saying “It’s your problem. Deal.”
  25. I love that she and I can have wonderfully intelligent conversations.
  26. I love her creativity.
  27. I love how she has helped raise our daughter into a bright, capable young woman.
  28. I love that she enjoys doing the “Berkeley Run” with our daughter.
  29. I love that she reminds me when it’s time to do the Anniversary Post (she reminded me in the car last night).

Of course, this list doesn’t include the things I love about her that I can’t post publicly :-). Maybe next year. You’ll just have to wait and see.