Observations Along the Road

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

Weekend News Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jul 02, 2016 @ 2:58 pm PDT

Observation StewFinally, to finish off clearing the links, here’s the potpourri of what remains:

 

Morning Musings: Going to the Dogs

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Jul 01, 2016 @ 7:08 am PDT

userpic=don-martinOver the July 4th weekend, my daughter is fostering two shelter dogs (as the shelters often get full with dogs over the 4th). This morning, during my shower, I was musing about why we don’t look at dogs the way we look at cars. Just imagine…

  • I’ve heard that its a bad idea to get a new dog. They just depreciate too much when you get them off the lot.
  • We opted to go to the used dog store instead. Alas, I couldn’t get a DogFax™ report to find out what accidents the dog had in its past.
  • Do used dogs stores permit you to take the dog to your local mechanic for an inspection before you decide to buy?
  • How do you know if your dog has been subject to any recalls?
  • Does a dog come with any optional equipment? Is it OEM, or third party?
  • If the dog is a lemon, can you exchange it in 90 days?
  • I’d get that dog, but it looks like someone has tampered with the odometer.

This is where my mind is this morning. I think I can use the extended weekend 🙂

Clearin’ of the Links: Science, Technology, and Medicine Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jun 30, 2016 @ 6:03 pm PDT

userpic=mad-scientistI’m still working on clearing out the links that accumulated during the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), with a goal of getting them all done before you take off for the Fourth of July weekend. I may already be too late. Here’s a chunk that are loosely related to science, medicine, and technology:

Medicine Chum

  • Understanding Migraines. One of the ills that plague me are migraines (which, luckily for me, are mild compared to what others get). No one knows precisely what triggers migraines, or how the various abortives work. Some think it is related to nerves in the head, and some think it is related to blood flow.  A new genome-wide association study published in Nature Genetics suggests that a migraine may primarily stem from problems with the blood supply system. This could lead to new ways to treat migraines.
  • More Than Human. We’re discovering more and more than the human organism is much more than the human organism — that is, much of what contributes to our health or lack thereof is our microbiome. Further, our overfocus on being “germ-free” has significantly hurt our biome, and may be the single largest contributor to our various health maladies — including obesity. Here’s another biome story — this time, the involvement of the biome with what has been called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Specifcally, researchers say they’ve found biological markers of the illness in the blood and gut bacteria of people with systemic exertional intolerance disease (SEID) (a/k/a CFS). Their results were published in the journal Microbiome. In this study, found clear differences between the blood and guts of healthy versus sick people. Compared to healthy controls, people with ME/CFS had weaker and less diverse bacterial ecosystems in their guts, as well as higher levels of immune inflammation in their blood. These differences were so clear that the researchers were able to spot nearly 83 percent of the time which participants had ME/CFS just by looking at their bacterial and immune response results.
  • Being Like Everyone Else. If everyone else did something with no proven medical benefit for medical reasons (like, for example, overusing bacterial soap), would you do it? A study that is unsurprisingly proving very viral on social networks is highlighting one such thing: most women these days are “preparing for the Olympics” for claimed medical benefit, when there is none (where “preparing for the Olympics” == “going Brazilian” == removing hair on their … == insert your own euphemism here). My attitude, for whatever it is worth, is that women are their most beautiful when they look like women — not airbrushed models or pre-pubescent girls — but women – with imperfections and hair and some parts large and some parts small and some parts inbetween. While we’re on that subject (and while we’re clearing links), here’s an article I found on two-piece suits for large chested ladies. What bothered me about that article is that the chest was the only part that was large. Why weren’t there two-pieces for ladies who happened to be large in other places as well? As it is, an article like that is just perpetuating body dismorphic ideas, just like shaving everywhere does.
  • How Old is Your Body? I’m 56. Recently, I’ve been wondering if there is any part of my body that has been with me all 56 years. So I was quite pleased to see an article come across my feeds that asked the same question: How old is your body? What component of your body has been around the longest time? For example: brand new fingernails every six months, 2-7 years for the hair on our heads, new skeletal muscles every 15 years. But those neurons in your brain? Never replaced.

Technology Chum

  • Automotive Security. We were having a discussion on our van this morning about car security, specifically how some thieves are collecting automotive RFID signals, and then going around parking lots broadcasting them, unlocking cars, and stealing stuff inside. I had noted how cars are generally better protected against theft, and how entertainment units are less likely to be stolen than radios of old. Another rider pointed out, however, that the keyless ignition cars are easier to steal. In general, our cars are weak in terms of security — so it is good at the Senator is pushing to increase cybersecurity protections in cars.
  • LED Streetlight Dangers. More and more cities are going to LED streetlights because they use less energy and are brighter. Now the AMA has come out with some cautions on LED lighting: cool it and dim it. The AMA’s statement recommends that outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lighting, should have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin (K). Color temperature (CT) is a measure of the spectral content of light from a source; how much blue, green, yellow and red there is in it. A higher CT rating generally means greater blue content, and the whiter the light appears. The new “white” LED street lighting which is rapidly being retrofitted in cities throughout the country has two problems, according to the AMA. The first is discomfort and glare. Because LED light is so concentrated and has high blue content, it can cause severe glare, resulting in pupillary constriction in the eyes. Blue light scatters more in the human eye than the longer wavelengths of yellow and red, and sufficient levels can damage the retina. This can cause problems seeing clearly for safe driving or walking at night. It can also affect our sleep cycles and rhythms (which is why many people recommend using f.lux to turn down the blue on your screens in the evening).
  • Tweaking Your Facebook Feed. Many of us who came from LJ miss the days of a sequential feed, where you know you could catch up on your friends. Facebook has never been quite the same. But Facebook is now providing some details on how to tweak your feed. First, they’ve disclosed their news feed algorithm, which will now show posts from friends higher up in the feed than posts from Pages like news outlets. Based on these new values, there are now some specific tweaks that you can do to make your newsfeed what you want it to be.

Science Chum

Science People In the News

  • New Position: Steve Isakowitz. The Aerospace Corporation (my employer) has announced the selection of a new corporate President and soon-to-be CEO: Steve Isakowitz, former President of Virgin Galactic. Iskowitz is also a former CTO of Virgin Galactic. Previously, he held a wide variety of senior engineering, business, and management roles across the private and government sectors, including positions at NASA, the Office of Management and Budget, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Energy. He replaces Wanda Austin, who has reached the corporate age limit for VPs and above.
  • Passing: Simon Ramo. Simon Ramo, the “R” in TRW, has passed away.  Ramo shaped California aerospace and the space industry through organizations like TRW, and I should note that he is responsible for the company I work at: The Aerospace Corporation is actually an FFRDC spin-off of STL, Space Technology Laboratories, which went on to become TRW.
  • Passing: Steve Walker. Word came to me Thursday morning of the passing of Steve Walker, one of the seminal people in the field of cybersecurity. The formal obituary and funeral arrangements haven’t been published; I found a bio here. We’ll get something up on the ACSA In Memorium page as soon as we can.

 

California Highway Headlines for June 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jun 30, 2016 @ 11:29 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingI had hoped to finish the updates to the California Highways pages by the end of May. Thanks to an auto accident after the Science Festival led to having to replace a car, that didn’t happen. I then hoped to have them done by mid-June. Thanks to the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) and seeing (and writing up) 17 shows, that didn’t happen. The plan is now to finish everything by the end of the 4th of July weekend. But we have two shows booked for that weekend, so let’s see if it really happens. Meanwhile, news keeps popping up about California Highways; here’s what popped out in June (those items that have not yet been processed into the pages are shown with ♦):

  • Caltrans wants public input on Highway 17 plan. There are now 60,000 vehicles that drive Highway 17 each weekday. That’s up from 54,500 just two years ago. And by 2040, that number is expected to soar to nearly 80,000. Bracing for the increase, Caltrans wants to improve how motorists get on and off the congested corridor in Santa Cruz County. And the transportation agency is asking for public to weigh in.
  • Roundabouts are coming, but do they work?. On key Napa-area roads, the shape of things to come may be a circle. City and state officials are moving toward replacing a set of busy intersections with a trio of roundabouts to link Highway 29 with downtown Napa. Engineers have offered another circular hub – or two – to replace a convoluted five-way junction on the east end of town. Even outside the city limits, a planned high-speed connection between Highways 29 and 221 could see a towering flyover ramp replaced by yet another pair of roundabouts.
  • Lawmakers unplug a plan to commercialize California’s electronic freeway signs. Lawmakers deadlocked this week on a bill to allow electronic freeway billboards operated by California to show commercial advertising as a way to pay for transportation improvements. However, opponents of the measure said Friday that they would not be surprised to see the proposal brought back next year.

(more…)

A Delayed Lunchtime Post: Looking Back, In Retrospect …

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jun 29, 2016 @ 12:56 pm PDT

userpic=headlinesContinuing with my post-Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) clearing of the links, here are some articles with some interesting historical notes:

 

A Lunchtime Post: Food News to Chew On

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jun 28, 2016 @ 11:09 am PDT

userpic=fastfoodNow that the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) is over, save for the encores, and now that the writeups are done, it’s time to start clearing the links. Here are some accumulated links from the last two weeks related to food:

 

It’s Rotten in Denmark | “Hamlet” @ HFF16

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jun 27, 2016 @ 6:51 pm PDT

Hamlet (HFF16)userpic=fringeWhen reading through the list of shows at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), shows catch my eyes for various reasons. For example, yesterday’s show, Hamlet, was written up thusly:

Hamlet is set in the 1940s of Las Vegas and the Royal Family is the mob. Having a struggling desert town working its way towards greatness as a parallel for the turmoil that Denmark was going through connects modern audiences to a time they never experienced before. With a script cut to emphasize the story’s moral and original language to emphasize the depth of the story, this retelling of a classic will wow audiences.

Reading this, I thought: “Wow! Ever since I saw the Four Clowns presents Hamlet, I’ve been wanting to see another take on Hamlet. Plus, I’m a student of the history of Las Vegas (especially the mob era in Vegas), and this blend sounds fascinating. I’m in”. So we booked our tickets, and last night we worked our way to West Hollywood for our last show of the Fringe Festival: Hamlet, from the Boundless Artists Theatre Company/FB.

Alas, the description was better than the execution. This is not to say that the performance was bad — it wasn’t (although it had some problems). Rather, it simply didn’t match the expectation created from the catalog description. Let’s analyze why, and what could have been done to fix it.

Let’s start with that first line: “Hamlet is set in the 1940s of Las Vegas and the Royal Family is the mob.” Great, great idea. So we walk into the theatre, and it is a black box with no set, no projections. The only intimation that we are dealing with the mob is that everyone is in black suits and dark shirts and carry guns, and the ladies are in heels with black hose. Yup. Damon Runyon (think “Guys and Dolls”) mobsters. That’s it. The language still refers to Kings and Queens and Princes and Denmark and France, but with a light New York accent. That’s all that gives us the sense of place. Doesn’t work. Nothing in this execution said “Vegas” at all.

So, what could they have done? First, move it up about 8-10 years. In the early 40s, the only resorts on the strip were El Rancho Vegas and The Last Frontier, both started before the war and both without heavy mob involvement. The Flamingo opened in 1946, and the era that is desired is the 10 year era after that, probably best between 1954 and 1956 when you had a number of mob-owned “union pension fund funded” resorts opening. 1954 is particularly good: you’ve got the El Rancho, Last Frontier, Flamingo, Sahara, Sands, Desert Inn, and Thunderbird operating. Go to 1958 and you can add about 5 more, including the Stardust and Riviera. Make Claude (Claudius) the general manager of the hotel, who bumped off the previous general manager and married his wife, Gertrude. Hamlet could remain Gertrude’s son, and perhaps be something like the Casino Director who doesn’t like the situation, perhaps because Claude was the general manager at a competing resort (and, yes, this happened at the time — look up folks like Gus Greenbaum, who was brought in to manage the Riviera in 1955, after successfully managing the Flamingo Hotel after the death (some would say mob hit) of Bugsy Siegel. In December 1958, Greenbaum and his wife were murdered in their Phoenix, Arizona home, reportedly on the orders of either Meyer Lansky or Tony Accardo. Make the other characters have similar changes: Ophelia as Hamlet’s girlfriend who works in the hotel; Laertes in another position and connected to his father, Polonius, who perhaps works with one of the union pension funds. The key point is that if you are going to set it in Vegas and the mob-controlled strip, you have to adjust the story to that context and mileau. Tweak the characters and names. As this is Fringe, use projections to establish the places: the hotel, offices, on the casino floor, in the desert burying a body. Make the costumes era appropriate and not caricatures of what you think the era is.

The mob Vegas aspect is a wonderful place to set the Hamlet story and to modernize it (doing so could be a great start at a fun screenplay). However, the execution of this version just failed miserably on that count. It was less visible than the Royal Nevada. The director, Rachel Lynn Walker (FB), who was also responsible for the adaptation and adjustments, needed to study and understand the era before attempting to do this.

Independent of screwing up the theme, how was this production as Hamlet itself? What would Billy Shakespeare think? By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Hamlet, either read the Wikipedia entry, the sparknotes, or the play itself.

On this aspect, the show was a bit better, but was still flawed (but see the note at the end). The adaptation did a lot of work to preserve the key lines that everyone expects from Hamlet. That was the good part. The bad part was that many of the actors spoke their lines far too fast, and without clear enunciation, which made it difficult for the audience to follow the story (which is already difficult given the unfamiliarity with Shakespeare’s language and language patterns). This was evidence from the moment when Bernardo steps on the stage and speaks his first lines (the actor playing Bernardo was one of the worst — but far from the only — offender). This problem I blame squarely on the director, Rachel Lynn Walker (FB), who has the responsibility to guide her actors to ensure they can be heard and understood by the audience. I have to tell technical students this all the time: slow down and speak clearly. This is certainly true for actors, who must add projection on top of that (and is doubly true when you are adding an accent).

So, we set aside the theme, and we set aside hearing many of the actors, and what do we have left? The performances. I’m pleased here to say there were some strong performances that offset the weak and worked to carry the story. We’ll do it in the usual tiers, with highlights.

At the time, of course, there is Evan Garcia (FB)’s Hamlet. For the most part, Garcia spoke clear but perhaps a little fast, and captured the emotions well (although he might need to a bit of work to convey the madness of Hamlet a little better). He also didn’t appear to have the strong connection required with Cynthia Asmar/FB‘s Ophelia, who is supposedly his love. Asmar’s Ophelia was fun to watch — kudos for casting diverse body shapes — and handled most of her lines well.

As the King and Queen, Richard Lozoya (FB) and Lauren Sanatra (FB), respectively, performed reasonably well. My wife thought Lozoya spoke a little fast; I thought he was OK. More importantly, other than the words there was nothing to convey a good sense of what the relationship was between Hamlet and these folks, and why he cared about them at all.

Polonius was played by Sergio Venegas (FB), and he had one of the best performances of the team. He spoke clear and loud, and did a great job of conveying his meaning. Shannon Walker (FB)’s Horatio worked well sometimes and at other times spoke too fast. In any case, she performed well and was fun to watch. However, there were a few points where it was clear she was struggling on the next line; by the 5th Fringe show that problem should have gone away. Her partner-in-crime, Daniel Verdugo/FB‘s Bernardo, was more of a problem. He always spoke too fast and too softly, and it was often difficult to figure out what he was saying or doing.

Rounding out the cast were Andrew Cercedes (FB) as Guildenstern, Joy Ann-Marie Horn/FB as Rosencranz, and Ryan Jones/FB as the ghost. Rosencranz and Guildenstern needed to work on their projection and slow down a bit more.

Turning to the production side again, there was no credit provided for set design, because there was no set. Costume and Prop design was by the director, Rachel Lynn Walker (FB), and here again there were some distracting fails. My wife noted that the shoes were wrong for the era. At one point Joy Ann-Marie Horn/FB was an a dress with a large opening in the back, and a bra strap was clearly visible. This did not fit the era in question — either the 1940s or 1950s. In the final scenes, Shannon Walker (FB) needs to watch out as she was about falling out of her top when she was leaning forward. Again — that’s a costuming problem that should have been caught by the director.  Actors seemingly kept dropping their props, and the variety of guns was off. On the plus side, the fight and dance choreography by Richard Lozoya (FB) was quite good. No credit was provided for stage management or lighting design. Justin Huen operated the board, and the production was presented by the Boundless Artists Theatre Company/FB.

Note: Writing this up uncovered the fact that most of the actors, as well as the director, of this production are relatively new to the industry. I do not want this writeup to seem harsher than it should — they were very good for their skill level. The problem is: the audience (especially an audience at Fringe) doesn’t know the actor’s skill level. As a result, the actors and production team need to up their game. There are things one overlooks because it is Fringe: fancy sets, fancy costumes, lots of rehearsal time in the space. But other things are space independent: learning to speak at a speed where the audience can understand, speaking with sufficient projection and enunciation to convey the story. Exhibiting emotions and relating is one thing, but what makes something a play over a pantomime is the writing. I encourage these young actors to keep practicing and working at the craft, and hope to see them much improved next year. This is where a skilled director can come in; they can educate and teach while molding and shaping. I fear the director in this case was overextended: not enough time to research for the writing, not enough time to rehearse with the actors, and not enough time to research to get the costumes to convey the message. In any case, this company still has a skill I don’t have — inhabiting another character. I’m just an engineer who knows how to write.

We saw the last performance of Hamlet, and it looks like it wasn’t extended for the Fringe Encore Awards.

Attention Programmers! Take the Fringe Programming Challenge! Scheduling your shows at the Fringe can be a pain in the …. I’m trying to solve the problem for next year, so take a look at my specs for a Fringe scheduling app. Can you write it?

* * *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the  Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at  The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  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: Ah, June. Wonderful June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows (for shows in the past, ✍ indicates writeup is in progress; ✒ indicates writeup is complete and links to the writeup):

Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at  Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. September is similarly mostly hold dates at this point. 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 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

Big is Beautiful | “My Big Fat Blonde Musical” @ HFF16

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jun 26, 2016 @ 12:00 pm PDT

My Big Fat Blonde Musical (HFF16)userpic=fringeOK, perhaps my taste in women is coloring my reaction to this musical. After all, if you know the women I dated (as well as the one I eventually married), you’ll know they all fit one particular mold.

No, not that mold.

They were all natural women who were comfortable in their bodies, who didn’t accept how society told them they had to look or had to behave, and who didn’t taken nothing from nobody.

(Excuse me while a song from Tom Paxton runs through the brain: …)

All over this great big city,
Can’t find a woman who’s nice and pretty.
They all look like a page in a magazine.
Legs are long and they eat like a sparrow.
Figures stick to the straight and narrow.
Top and bottom are the same as in between.

[Cho:]
Show me a pretty little number,
When she walks, she rolls like thunder,
Eyes as deep and dark as the deep blue sea.
Round right here and round right there,
Pretty red lips and her very own hair,
Wrap her up, she’s the natural girl for me.

OK, digression ended. Back to the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), where yesterday evening we saw our last show in the Sacred Fools (FB) Black Box space:  My Big Fat Blond Musical at 8:30pm.

My Big Fat Blond Musical, which was written, composed, and produced by Theresa Stroll (FB) and her finace, Bobby McGlynn (FB), and performed by Stroll, is the story of Stroll’s experience in Hollywood, where she moved from Connecticut to pursue a dream of being an actress. Unfortunately, she found out that Hollywood — in particular, the TV and Film industry — doesn’t have a liking of large (well, fubsy, well, fat) women, except as comic relief and the girl that never gets the guy. She did eventually find an answer to her problem — I’m not going to say it is the answer — but more on that later.

Throughout the show, Stroll relates her story portraying multiple characters along the way: an Austrialian actress working in a bar, her manager at Starbucks, a talent manager, and so forth. She had a particular point to make about the burden of student loans and how the loan companies start making demands to get their money back even before the student has begun to achieve their earning potential. This, as a dad of a recent UC Berkeley grad, scares me a little, although it is a little reassuring to know that her loan total is only the amount of a compact car.

Throughout the show, there are a number of songs and dances that convey the points of the accompanying scenes. Stroll sings these very well (there were only a few minor reaches), but one or two of songs themselves could use a little work if they were to survive out of the show. On the other hand, some were excellent — “Carbs and Oils” was a great parody of Modern Major General, and “Fuck It!” could be the anthem of many people that I know.  They do have a demo recording of the songs available for a PayPal payment of $2 to fatmusical@gmail.com.

By the end of the story, Stroll has found the avenue to success, and it is reminiscent of the will in A Class Act: she decides to tell Hollywood to F-it, and take control of her own destiny… and one aspect of this is creating a musical… which is, you guessed it….

I think the message that this show imparts is a great one: Don’t wait for destiny to come to you, go out and make your own destiny. It is one that is true for fat or thin actors, but especially true for actors that don’t fit the normal stereotypical molds of Hollywood and the TV and film industry. I’d say that we’re lucky that the theatrical stage is more diverse… but is it?

Stroll, in this show, touches on that last aspects of acceptable discrimination. We can no longer discriminate based on sex, race, creed, color, orientation, gender identification, religion; however, being fat or large — that you can make fun of. That’s wrong. We’re seeing some increasingly popular viral campaigns expressing that view — that what we need are real sizes and real people. (That’s one reason I supported The Nu Project (FB) — for it has a great message — all women are beautiful). But Hollywood and related acting professions (i.e., stage) still view the world through a narrow lens of shapes, sizes and colors. Fringe festival is beautiful because it allows celebration outside that boundary — whether “big boned”, “big chested”, or just “big opinioned”. Fringe embraces the wide variety of theatre in all its natural values from the one person to the ensemble, from the loosely scripted to the tightly scripted, from the polished to the not, from the… well you get it.

This is why Theresa Stroll’s piece is so important to be seen: to make us aware of the discrimination in the industry. Why can’t we have a show (other than Mike and Molly, which although it had the premise, was painfully flawed in execution) where the large girl gets the guy and is treated no different than the skinny girl that gets the guy (i.e., no jokes about size)? Why can’t we cast size diverse as well as color diverse? Why must the only role for fat be funny?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I truly enjoyed this piece (as did my wife).

The production was directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson (FB), who is not from Australia but from St. Louis (but those midwest accents are difficult 🙂 ). Choreography was by Lindsay Braverman (FB). Rebecca Schoenberg (FB) [any relation to Larry?] was the stage manager. There were no credits given for lighting or sound or projections, but all worked very well in establishing place and mood.

Alas, we caught the last performance of My Big Fat Blonde Musical. I have heard rumors that it might be extended with a few shows, so keep checking their ticket page or follow @FatMusical  on Twitter for updates.

As a PS for this: We need to get some producer to follow this up with a production of Pretty Faces: The Large and Lovely Musical (FB, Amazon) at the next Fringe Festival. Vocal selections are available, but I can’t find licensing info. It looks like you contact the author.

Attention Programmers! Take the Fringe Programming Challenge! Scheduling your shows at the Fringe can be a pain in the …. I’m trying to solve the problem for next year, so take a look at my specs for a Fringe scheduling app. Can you write it?

* * *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the  Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at  The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  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: Ah, June. Wonderful June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows (for shows in the past, ✍ indicates writeup is in progress; ✒ indicates writeup is complete and links to the writeup):

Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at  Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. September is similarly mostly hold dates at this point. 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 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.