Observations Along the Road

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

In Memory of Rod McKuen…

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Jan 30, 2015 @ 5:07 am PDT

userpic=tombstonesThe poet Rod McKuen died yesterday at age 81. When I think of McKuen, I always think of the following song, which was sung so beautifully by Mary Travers during her solo period. The words of the song ring true today, and provides something very important to remember as we see battles between black and white, right and poor, immigrant vs native, and all the other divisions of our society:

CHILDREN ONE AND ALL
Rod McKuen
©1968, 1972 Editions Chanson Co.

Some of us live in big white houses
Some of us live in small
Some of our names are written on blackboards
Some are written on walls
Some of our daddies work in factories
Some of them stand in line
Some of our daddies buy us marbles
Some of them just buy wine
But at night you can’t tell  Sunday suits
From tattered overalls
But then we’re only children
Children one and all

Some of us take our lunch in boxes
Some in paper sacks
Some of us kids join in the laughter
Some hear it at their backs
Some of our mothers sew fine linen
Some can’t sew a stitch
Some of our mothers dress up poorly
And some of them dress up rich
But at night you can’t tell party dresses
From hand me downs too small
But then we’re only children
Children one and all

Some of us learn our lessons poorly
Some of us learn them well
Some of us find an earthly heaven
Some of us live in hell
Some of us go right on a’preachin’
Without making too much sense
Some of us hide behind a wall
And some behind a fence
But at night you can’t you tell picket fences
From bricks a tower tall
But then we’re only children
Children one and all

Some of us grow up tall and handsome
Some of us grow up plain
Some of us own the world in ransom
Some of us just our name
Some of our people die in misery
Some of them die in peace
Some of our people die for nothing
But dying doesn’t cease
And at night you can’t tell fancy coffins
From boxes in the hall
But then we’re only children
Children one and all

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season II: Cabrillo Music Theatre

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jan 27, 2015 @ 6:33 pm PDT

Over lunch, I shared my opinions of the Colony and Pantages seasons. This afternoon, Ellen over at Musicals in LA (a great blog) posted the details of the 2015-2016 Cabrillo Music Theatre season.  I was a long time subscriber at Cabrillo Music Theatre’s (FB) since the 2001 production of Anything Goes. However, last season’s selections just failed to excite meMemphis: The Musical (which I had seen during its run at the Pantages and wasn’t particularly eager to see again); Company (which I had seen during its excellent run at Crown City); Oklahoma (which everyone has seen far too many times); and Mary Poppins (which I had seen at the Ahmanson– again, a large theatre). As I would rather spend my theatre dollars on shows I want to see (either because I haven’t seen them, or they are new approaches), I reluctantly let my subscription drop. I still contributed to their annual appeal, however, because I want them to succeed.

So I am pleased to report that Cabrillo Music Theatre’s (FB) has redeemed themselves, and that (presuming the boss agrees) I’ll be contacting them to reestablish our subscription. Here is their line-up for 2015-2016, and my thoughts:

In short, pick the right shows and I’ll be back. Every show doesn’t have to be “new to me”, but the majority have to intrigue me enough (that was the case in the 2013-2014 season, where I liked three of the shows but was meh on Forever Plaid). Kudos to Lewis Wilkenfeld (FB) for his choices, and I hope that future seasons can preserve the mix of popular shows and shows that aren’t done too frequently.

***

ETA: When it rains, it pours. I just received the dates for Good People Theatre’s Closer Than Ever (which will be announced tomorrow), and learned from that announcement that the Pasadena Playhouse is doing a new Maltby/Shire musical, Waterfall, at the end of May. My weekends are getting incredibly full, and there are going to be a few of those dreaded two-show weekends. Whew!

Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Colony and Pantages

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jan 27, 2015 @ 11:32 am PDT

userpic=colonyIn the last two weeks, announcements have come out regarding the upcoming seasons at two theatres I frequent. I thought I would share them with you:

** The Colony Theatre, Burbank **

The Colony Theatre (FB) (where we subscribe) is a mid-size house that prides itself on using only Equity actors and paying Equity wages. Colony just sent me their season announcement for 2015-2016:

  • The Fabulous Lipitones by John Markus and Mark St. Germain. Thumbs Up Germain is a favorite playwright at the Colony; I’ve seen a number of his shows there. This one sounds interesting: A barbershop quartet who’s been belting out close harmonies for twenty years suddenly loses its lead singer. The three surviving members must cease their bickering and race to find a replacement. They hear a tenor with a gorgeous voice, but when he shows up he’s a dark-skinned Indian in a turban who is also an illegal immigrant… and one of the quartet is Archie Bunker. West Coast Premiere. July 25 – August 23, 2015.
  • Mrs. A. Lincoln by John Dayton. Thumbs Up Toward the end of her life, Mary Todd Lincoln (Patty Duke) shares her stories and memories with (unseen) reporters. World Premiere. September 19 – October 18, 2015.
  • Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones. Thumbs Up 35-year-old Felix Humble is a bumbling Cambridge astrophysicist who cannot stumble across a garden hose without using it to illustrate the finer points of string theory before twisting it into a noose. He returns home to his bee keeping father’s funeral, only to discover his difficult and domineering mother in the arms of another man. West Coast Premiere. November 7 – December 13, 2015.
  • The Best of Enemies by Mark St. Germain. Thumbs Up Ann, an African-American civil rights activist, and C.P., the Exalted Cyclops of the KKK are forced to work together by the federal government to achieve integration in their small North Carolina town fifteen years after Brown v. Board of Education. West Coast Premiere. February 13 – March 13, 2016.
  • Another Roll of the Dice. Book by Mark Saltzman, Music by Frank Loesser. Thumbs Up Based on the stories by Damon Runyon. A new musical, seemingly in the world of Guys and Dolls. World Premiere. April 16 – May 15, 2016.

All in all, a pretty exciting season. I’m looking forward to it.

** The Pantages Theatre, Hollywood **

userpic=broadwaylaOn Monday, the Pantages Theatre also announced its upcoming 2015-2016 season. I don’t subscribe to the Pantages (FB), but go when there are particular shows of interest. There wasn’t much in the 2014-2015 season. This one is better:

  • Annie. Thumbs Down This is the new US National Tour of the show. There was some controversy about this production — note that this is not the slightly revised version that was recently on Broadway, but a remounting of the original version with a non-Equity tour cast directed by Charnin. Although I enjoy the show I’ve seen it a number of times, and unless there’s something new and novel, there are better choices for my ticket dollar.  October 13 – November 1, 2015.
  • If/Then. Thumbs Up This is the new Idena Menzel musical that just closed on Broadway. I doubt we’ll get Idina, but I go to a show for the story, not the performer. The music is good and the story is an interesting one about the paths one choses in life (it is not, as its title might imply, a musical about a programmer who falls in love). This is one that I want to see. Written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. December 8, 2015 – January 3, 2016.
  • Bullets Over Broadway. Thumbs Up This is the musicalization of the Woody Allen film, written by Allen. The score consists of jazz and popular standards of the years between World War I and about 1930 by various songwriters. I’ve heard the music, and I really like it. It didn’t do well on Broadway, possibly because of the association with Allen. January 5 – January 24, 2016.
  • Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on StageThumbs Down This is the North American Tour of this never-on-Broadway show. It appears to use movie songs and movie choreography. It may be classic, but I have no desire to see it. Footloose: The Musical would have been better. February 2 – February 21, 2016.
  • The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible. Thumbs Down This is billed as  “a mind-blowing spectacular that showcases seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth”. It had a short Broadway run. Doesn’t really excite me. Now, if they were to bring back Stephen Schwartz’ The Magic Show, that would be something different. But then again, who is today’s equivalent of Doug Henning? .  February 23 – March 13, 2016.
  • 42nd Street. Thumbs Down The old chestnut. Saw a great production of this at Cabrillo; no need to see again. This is obviously (because the Pantages only books Tours and Special Events) a non-equity tour. Leave it for the tourists. May 31 – June 19, 2016.
  • Beautiful – The Carole King MusicalThumbs Up This was a big Tony winner. I’ve heard the music on this one and I really like it. It also got great reviews and a thumbs up from Carole King. I’ll see this. June 22 – July 17, 2016.
  • CabaretThumbs Down The Pantages is the wrong venue if they are trying the new revival; most likely, this is a non-equity tour [Correction: This is the new Roundabout Theatre version. Given that version was designed for a much smaller and intimate venue, it is just going to have difficulty connecting in the cavernous Pantages.] What’s the point. Want to see Cabaret? Go to Crown City and see the endless run there. July 19-Aug. 7, 2016.

Note: The Center Theatre Group has not announced its season, but the rumors look promising. I’ve already heard that Little Dancer (Ahrens, Flaherty) is coming to LA. Other rumored shows might be A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bridges of Madison County, or Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

** Other Upcoming Shows of Interest **

userpic=theatre_ticketsEllen Dostal’s Musicals in LA highlighted one additional upcoming musical of interest:

The critically acclaimed Off-Broadway musical Inside Out will celebrate its 20-year anniversary at the Grove Theatre Center (FB) in Burbank, Feb. 12 – March 22 (opening night Feb. 14). Bruce Kimmel will direct the musical written by Doug Haverty (book & lyrics) and Adryan Russ (lyrics & music). A women’s therapy group, headed by group leader, Grace (Cynthia Ferrer), is transformed forever when former singing star Dena (Leslie Stevens) joins the group and winds up being a catalyst for change in the lives of Sage (Adrienne Visnic), a flower child; Liz (Sandy Bainum), a powerful businesswoman who has problems balancing work and home; Chlo (Stephanie Fredricks), a gay bank employee and single mom; and Molly (Dana Mellor), a mother of two young children who is dealing with weight and work issues. A portion of proceeds from the production will go to the 1983-founded Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation; an “army of women” dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer and how to stop it before it starts. www.dslrf.org. Tickets: (323) 960-1055 or www.plays411.com/insideout. This was partially funded by an Indiegogo campaign.

This one I may look into, especially as  Chavez Ravine at the Kirk Douglas seems to be sold out on Goldstar and Hottix, and I’m looking for something for Saturday, February 21. Additionally, this page makes it appear as if discount tickets will be available from the usual sources.

Creativity Unleashed

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jan 26, 2015 @ 7:22 pm PDT

50 Hour Drive By Theatre (ZJU)userpic=dramamasksI’m not very adven­turous when I go to the theatre. If you’ve been reading my write-ups over the last 10 years, you’ll find they are pretty much positive, because I tend to see productions that have either been reviewed well in Los Angeles, or have gotten good reviews in other cities. I do see new works (especially from places like The Colony Theatre (FB)), but even then those plays have typically been extensively workshopped and dramaturged to perfection.

The downside to all this, however, is that I miss the creative energy. I see the end result, far removed from the burst of creativity and the true exercise of the acting muscle. I do rarely take the risk — when I do, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Last night, the presence of someone I’ve been wanting to meet on stage (Colin Mitchell of Bitter Lemons) drew me out of my cocoon of safety: he was onstage as part of the 50 Hours Drive-By Theatre Festival at Zombie Joe Underground (FB). I’ve heard of these efforts before — I know the Blank Theatre does one — but never experienced it. The closest I’ve come to the creative energy side was the Solo-palooza effort at REP after the Spring Debacle, an outgrowth of product of the “Theatre 195: Solo Performance” class at the College of the Canyons. In this program, students from the class present original solo performance pieces that have been curated with COC theatre instructor and Solopalooza director Susan Hinshaw (FB) to be both socially provocative and highly entertaining.  I found that effort fantastic.

Guess what? I loved the ZJU 50th Drive By as well.  Here’s how the process works:

  • Thursday @ 6PM: Writers pick 3 props at random.
  • Thursday @ 6:35PM: Pens hit paper, together.
  • Friday @ 5:30PM: Final scripts turned in, and scripts are reviewed with the producer.
  • Friday @ 7:45PM: Rehearsal begins
  • Saturday @ 4:15PM: The production is put together
  • Saturday @ 8:35PM: First show.

This is totally unlike what I normally see, and I found it wonderful and full of energy. Not everything works, but that’s what happens when you’re on a high-wire without a net. The resulting production consisted of 5 approximately 20 minute plays (because everything at ZJU is one hour long):

***

Meet the Susans. (Written by Katherine Bowman (FB), Directed by Jana Wimer (FB)). This playlet told the story of three women, all named Susan Johnson, who are all married to members of the armed forces… who all have the same first name. It takes place at the birthday party for Susan Enise Johnson [Elif Savas Felsen (FB)] (the other Susans are Susan Danna [Tanushree Verma (FB)] and Susan Mary [Michelle Moraveg/FB]). An Air Force Captain (Betty [Caitlin Carleton (FB)]) arrives, with the usual bad news announcement that Michael Johnson has died. However, it is unknown which husband it is. Betty is invited to stay at the party, and the usual party drama occurs with the goal of delaying opening the envelope. During this, it is that Betty is in love with Susan Mary Johnson. It ends when all four decide to open the envelope together, and… blackout.

This playlet was generally entertaining, but didn’t really end up with anything larger in the end (i.e., it didn’t really go anywhere). Being someone who works with the Air Force, I found Carleton’s costume distracting (normal USAF cap with captains pin, white blouse, bloused tie (only the Marines do that), black skirt (should be blue), and patterned stockings (plain neutral per regs)), although her performance was good. I also enjoyed Verma’s performance and her movement with the pregnancy belly.

Patient 99. (Written and directed by Jim Eshom (FB)). This playlet was about an unknown cooperative patient, Patient 99 [Hannah Kaplan/FB], one thousand years in the future. Two doctors, Dr. X [Jordyn DeMarco (FB)] and Dr. Z [Ian Heath (FB)] are trying to get her to cooperate and use her artifact to channel the voice of the prophet. She keeps becoming more and more uncooperative. Eventually, they devise a plan to bring in her sister, Dahlia [Cheryl Doyle/FB] to bond with her (both had been snatched at the same time, while watching Mrs. Doubtfire). They inform her they will send her sister back if she cooperates, and she gives in. The playlet ends with her activating the device.

This play exhibited a little more growth in its characters, particularly in Patient 99 (and I quite enjoyed Kaplan’s performance here). Doyle was also quite good as 99’s clingy sister, and there was good interplay between the two doctors.

Half of Infinity. (Written by Steven W. Alloway (FB), Directed by Sebastian Muñoz (FB; Page)). This was basically a Frankenstein story about Frank [Colin Mitchell (FB)], an outcast who basically couldn’t get any woman to be interested in him. So he builds himself a girlfriend by stealing the face and body of Elsa Lancaster, a breast cancer patience. However, after Elsa [Elena Ray (FB)] is revived, she’s less interested in Frank and more interested in finding out who (not what) she is. Complicating this is the fact that Frank’s assistant, Ygritte [Gloria Galvan/FB, who I’ve seen before and liked in both CSUN’s Tommy and ZJU’s Christmas Carol] is really in love with Frank, but Frank is too love blind to see this. The implication, which could be due to casting, is that this blindness comes from the fact that Elsa fits the current perception of what beauty is, whereas Ygritte is a larger woman (but still quite sexy). As the scene closes, Frank finally realizes Ygritte’s attaction to him.

I liked this playlet a lot. It was cute, well performed, and I liked the interplay between all of the characters. I thought the reference to Elsa Lancaster, who played the original Bride of Frankenstein, was nice.

The Original. (Written by Adam Neubauer (FB), directed by Roger K. Weiss (FB)). This was a dark story about a group of three — Argus [Abel Horowitz (FB)], the Nemesis [Tucker Matthews (FB)], and Themis [Jennifer Chun/FB] who were hunting down clones of Attis [Billy Minogue (FB)] to eventually find and kill “the original”. Argus had odd glasses that could see the clones, the Nemesis could kill without remorse when wearing a mask, and I can’t remember Themis’s specialty. Eventually, they find Attis, and Themis kills him.

This was my least favorite of the piece. The story was relatively violent, and there was no real growth of characters. There was no one for the audience to sympathize with, and it just seemed like an excuse to use the props. I did like Matthew’s portrayal of the Nemesis.

Forever. (Written by Vanessa Cate (FB), directed by Denise Devin (FB)). This was the story of a love triangle at a reunion. We first meet the girl, Amira Kay [Jonica Patella (FB)], who encounters Jules [Julian Vlcan (FB)]. She has no interest in Jules, although he is clearly in love with her. Her interest is in Alex Mathers [Scott Sytten/FB]. Mathers, however, wants no part of Amira — he’s interested in Jules. Essentially, what we have here is a very cute and touching love triangle of girl loves gay guy who loves straight guy who loves girl, and the very humorous playlet addresses their coming to the realization that if they can’t have who they want, having the triangle will suffice.

This was very well performed, and was perhaps my favorite piece of the set. It was touching and funny and the characters were well drawn out. All of the performances were delightful, and there was an odd sensibility about the piece that set it apart from the rest. I’ll note that this piece and the Susan’s piece were the only one’s written by women.

***

Of the five pieces, I think my favorites were Half of Infinity and Forever. Patient 99 was second. Meet the Susans was third. My least favorite was The Original.

Overall, truly admired the creativity — this is a different type of theatre than what one sees when one goes for the known authors and known works, or even the new authors when their product is of the traditional style (90 minute-120 minutes, 1-2 acts). This is much more theatre on the edge, and the creativity is invigorating. As with acting, this is not something I can do. I can be creative and come up with a solution to a problem quickly, yes… but writing it as a play, blocking and laying it out, rehearsing and memorizing it is beyond me. Powerpoint charts — no problem (in my area of expertise). But for those who can create like this… I salute them.

Turning to the technical… umm, what technical? ZJU has minimal sets, and the lighting is a bunch of par lights with nary a Leko in the bunch. Jeri Batzdorff (FB) and Zombie Joe handled the props. The production manager was Adam Neubauer (FB) and Zombie Joe, together with Ellen Runkle. Music was by Kevin Van Cott (FB). The 50 Hour Drive By was produced by Zombie Joe.

The last performance of the 50 Hour Drive By (for this year) is in about an hour. Better run fast and hope they have tickets.

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

Upcoming Shows: The last weekend of January concludes with the Cantors Concert on Sat January 31 at Temple Ahavat Shalom, followed by a concert performance of the musical Redhead at Theatre West (FB).  February and March pick up even more. We have a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, February 7, so there may not be theatre that weekend (but who knows). The next week brings two shows: “Loch Ness” at the Chance Theatre (FB) on February 14 and “The Threepenny Opera” at A Noise Within (FB) on February 15. The weekend of February 21 is open; I’m hoping to find discount tickets for Saturday for Chavez Ravine at the Kirk Douglas. February closes with “The Road to Appomattox” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on February 28. March is equally busy, with the MRJ Man of the Year dinner on March 7, “Carrie: The Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) on March 14, a hold for “Drowsy Chaperone” at CSUN on Friday March 20, “Doubt” at REP East (FB) on Saturday March 21, “Newsies” at the Pantages (FB) on March 28, followed by Pesach and the Renaissance Faire on April 11. Other than the Faire, April is pretty much open. Additionally, there’s a Marcy and Zina concert at Pepperdine on Tuesday, February 3; alas, as it is a weeknight, I probably won’t make it. 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.

A Classic, On Stage, Reinterpreted

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 25, 2015 @ 9:02 am PDT

Pulp Shakespeare or Bard Fiction (Theatre Asylum)userpic=yorickWhy do I always do things backwards?

I saw Silence: The Musical, a musical parody of “Silence of the Lambs“. I’ve never seen the movie.

I saw Evil Dead: The Musical, a musical parody of “Evil Dead“… and its sequels. I’ve never seen the movie.

I saw Triassic Parq: The Musical, a musical parody of “Jurassic Park“.  I’ve never seen the movie.

I saw “A Very Brady Musical“. I’ve never seen…. oh, it’s worse. I have seen “The Brady Bunch

My point is: I’ve seen numerous movies in stage form long before I’ve ever seen the celluloid original. So, of course, it should be no surprise that I went to go see Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) (FB)† at Theatre Asylum (FB) without having ever seen the original movie, “Pulp Fiction“. In fact, I’ve only seen two Quentin Tarantino movies, “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds“, and both of those were on Showtime, not in the theater, and were originally seen in a disconnected, scenes out of order fashion.  But the tagline for the production: “Ever wonder what Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece PULP FICTION would be like reimagined by the immortal William Shakespeare?” just drew me in. So, the first thing I did when I got home from the show was to open up Wikipedia and read the synopsis of “Pulp Fiction”.  Accordingly, let’s look at the story through two sets of eyes: the first those of a newbie unfamiliar with Pulp Fiction, and passingly familiar with Shakespeare; the second through the same eyes after reading the plot of “Pulp Fiction”.

I’m pleased to say that the story (credited to Ben Tallen (FB), Aaron Greer (FB), and Brian Watson-Jones (FB), who compiled it and edited it for performance from material developed by the Pulp Bard Wiki based on a concept originated by Kevin Pease — and they do credit all the contributors in the program)… anyway, I’m pleased to say that the story seems to fit in the Shakespeare realm quite well (I can just imagine this being done at a Ren Faire!), and was in iambic pentameter. This was initially hard to get used to (but, then again, so is the opening scene and flashback), but then became normal. I’ve had this happen with other Shakespeare plays.

For someone unfamiliar with Pulp Fiction, I found it surprisingly easy to pick up the storyline, although the non-linear nature eluded me until I got to the last scene. The lead characters were well played, and one could easily see how they had taken modern stereotypes and translated them back to Elizabethan days. Even the Tarantino cartoon violence that I appreciated so well in Django was present in Pulp Shakespeare with the easy and rapid dispatch of characters. I could even see the archtype of the actors that were being parodied without even knowing who the original actors were. The dialogue was funny even without the original film context. The scenes played out well, and some were particularly hilarious (I’m thinking the “Vincenzio de la Vegal and Lady Mia Wallace” sequence, as well as “The Gold Portable Timekeeper”. In short, even though I didn’t know the film, I found the play quite enjoyable (although a little confusing at the start).

As I noted, when I got home, I read the synopsis on Wikipedia. Suddenly, all the scenes made full sense, and I could understand why much of the audience was laughing even more than I was. Based on this, I believe that if you are familiar with the underlying film, you’ll find this show to be hilarious. One of these days I should probably see the movie, and then find another production of this (alas, my theatre schedule is too booked, as you’ll see below, to do that before this run ends). Every scene discussed in the synopsis seems to be in this play, with the exception of the second half of “The Bonnie Situation”. It captured all the dialogue quirks, all the iconic scenes, all the iconic characters (and based on what I read, their mannerisms). Even the odder sequences were present, translated back to Shakespearean times — such as the Prelude to the Gold Watch (where Captain Koons is transformed into Sir “Butch” Coolidge’s father), or the entire dialogue in the Preluce to the Vincent and Marcellus’ Wife sequence (where Vincenzio de la Vega and Julius Winfield argue about whether massaging the feet is the same level of intimacy as kissing a lady’s nether lips). They even capture the equivalent of Fox Force Five, Jack Rabbit Slims, the sequence regarding “What?”, and the French McDonalds discussion.  In short, it made me wish I had seen the movie so that I could have appreciated the parody even more. I guess that’s what a good parody is supposed to do; especially a parody of an iconic film.

As for the Shakespearean nature of the performance: I must admit I’m not a Shakespeare expert. The only Shakespearean plays that I have seen (that were as Shakespeare, so The Lion King and Kiss Me Kate don’t count) are The Taming of the Shrew at Theatricum Botanicum and Santa Clarita Shakespeare, and Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Old Globe. To me, the director Amanda McRaven (FB) (assisted by Emily L. Gibson (FB)) did a good job of keeping the tone and rhythm Shakespearean, which isn’t a surprise as both have experience at the American Shakespeare Center. But the two also appeared to allow the actors to have fun with the roles and bring in their own little touches, which is something I like to see.

In what appeared to be the lead positions were Aaron Lyons (FB) as Vincenzio de la Vega and Dan White (FB) as Julius Winfield. I base this primarily on the fact that they were the connecting glue in all the scenes. The two actors had a great chemistry together; having not seen the original movie, I cannot say whether the chemistry was the same as what existed between John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson. Lyons did, however, appear to project Travolta’s easygoing nature (and dance moves). Lyons also had great chemistry with Lady Mia, Brittanus, and Marcellus. White had an equivalent easy-going nature, but projected more of an “in the hood” vibe (which is appropriate, as he was paralleling Samuel Jackson). In general, the two were fun to watch.

As for the remaining characters, it is better to discuss them on a scene-basis, as opposed to lead-tiers. Let’s start with the “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” parallel scenes, as these capture many of the major characters. As Lady Mia Wallace, Victoria Hogan (FB) was a delight. She had a wonderful energy in her scene with Lyons’ Vincenzio, providing both playfulness and a simple joy with her character. In short, she seemed to be having a blast playing Mia, and that fun came across to the audience. Again, having not seen her film parallel (Uma Thurman), I cannot assess how well she parodies any of Thurman’s particular film mannerisms. As her husband, Lord Marcellus Wallace, Gary Poux (FB) was also fun. He was appropriately menacing, but suitably loose and playful with the character. I could easily seem him channeling Ving Rhames in look and style (Rhames being the movie parallel); again, I don’t know if he captured the movie mannerisms. In any case, both Hogan and Poux were just great to watch. As for the supporting characters in this scene, Marcelo Olivas (FB) [who we saw in Taming of the Shrew] is wonderful as the drug dealer Lancelot (movie parallel: Lance), channeling Eric Stoltz quite well. I particularly enjoyed his performance in the scene where Mia must be saved after her overdose. Olivas is also credited as playing Claudio, who must be a minor character in other scenes. Lancelot’s wife Juno (Jody in the movie) was played by Dylan Jones (FB) (who also played Meadsweet and Player). She was supposedly channeling Rosanna Arquette, and was hilarious in the scene where she explained all of her piercings. I have no idea if that was in the movie, but it was quite funny.

Next are the characters related to the “The Gold Watch” sequences. The main character here is Christian Levatino (FB), who channeled Sir “Butch” Coolidge, the boxer (Bruce Willis in the movie). Levatino didn’t come across as a Willis-parallel either in look or style, but was great fun to watch as the boxer — especially in the interactions with the Marcellus early on, with ghost prior to the fight, and mostly in the interactions with his girlfriend, Fabiana. Fabiana was portrayed by Julia Aks (FB) (who also played the Tavern Wench and Anne) — umm, no that’s not right, as Aks’ FB page indicates she was not in the show this weekend (tsk, tsk to the producers for not telling the audience this). Let’s try this again: Fabiana was portrayed by Brooke Van Grinsven (FB) (who also played the Tavern Wench and Anne), who was fun to watch as the ravenous French girlfriend when Butch returns after the fight (and also fun in her response to garçon line that was in the movie).  I have no idea how well she paralled Maria de Medeiros. The remaining major character in this scene was Matt Hudacs (FB) as the ghost (as well as Brittanus, Waiter 2, and Zed). Hudacs did the ghost character well, although he didn’t come off as particularly Christopher Walken-like to me (but then again, Walken is burned into my brain in a way no brain bleach can erase as the befuddled Captain Hook in the recent Peter Pan Live). Hudacs, however, was wonderful as the Waiter in the Jack Rabbit Slim’s parallel, as Brittanus in the Vincent Vega prelude and Bonnie Situation scenes, and as Zed in the rape scene.

That leaves us with the main characters in the opening and closing diner scenes: Drew Derek (FB) as Pumpkin Pie (as well as Roger, Norman, and Maynard), and the aforementioned Dylan Jones (FB) (“Meadsweet” being the parallel for “Hunny Bunny”). Both were good, although when you first see them you are just getting used to the iambic pentameter, and in the end, they are mostly just repeating silently what they did in the opening. However, they do both work well in the Mexican standoff at the end. Derek was also good as Maynard, especially in his interactions with Hudacs’ Zed).

Rounding out the players was Ian Verdun (FB) as Scottish Dave / Marvin / Sprint, Julius Understudy. I recall the Marvin character from the scene’s at Brett’s (where he is mostly silent), but I can’t place the other character. My guess is that Scottish Dave is a parallel to English Bob, but that’s all I’ve got.

Turning to the technical side of things: In addition to playing Vincenzio, Aaron Lyons (FB) also did the set and the lighting design. The set was relatively simple — boxes and tables and benches, but it worked well enough to establish the place. Lighting also worked well — especially the red lighting during the very bloody scenes — a very Tarantino touch. No credit was provided for sound design, but Jeff Cardoni (FB) was credited for music composition. Having not seen the movie, I cannot assess how well the music Jeff provided paralleled the music chosen by Tarantino for the movie. The costumes by Paula Higgins (FB) seemed suitably period — at least they looked like they might fit in at a RenFaire. I’m also going to highlight the scenic painter, Caitlín McCarthy (FB). I’ve lately been growing more and more impressed by the power of paint in scenic design, creating all sorts of illusions of other surfaces. That was apparent in this show, with the “wood” floor and the “wood” beams on the wall. Notice the power of paint next time you go to a show. Emily L. Gibson (FB) was the stage manager. Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) was produced by Aaron Lyons (FB) (adding another hat), Bertha Rodriguez/FB was the associate producer, and Matthew Quinn (FB) was the executive producer.

Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) (FB) continues at Theatre Asylum (FB) (which is in the same theatre complex as Elephant Stages and The Lillian) until March 8. Tickets are available through the Asylum online box office; discount tickets are available through Goldstar and LA Stage Tix. The show is worth seeing, especially if you are fans of the original movie, “Pulp Fiction”.‡

[†: Note: The Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) FB page that comes up when using the @-tagging is the page for the original production by Jordan Monsall, not this effort.  This production was executive produced by Matthew Quinn, who has indicated that none of the original direction, writing, artwork or music, was used in this production. Mr. Monsall did drop me a FB message about his lack of credit. I will let others determine if there is anything of concern — I’m just a cybersecurity specialist, highway hobbyist, and theatre audience member. I’m just including this footnote to highlight that the likely tag on Facebook is not the correct production, and those interested should use the correct FB reference.]

[‡: ETA – If you are a fan of “Pulp Fiction”, then you’ll be interested to learn that Spring 2015 will see the release of a supposedly-excellent parody film, “Underbelly Blues”, that is, yes, a Tarantino production. That’s Tarantino, as in Tony Tarantino, Quentin’s father.]

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

Upcoming Shows: This evening provides me the opportunity to finally meet Colin from Bitter Lemons, as I attend the ZJU 50 Hour Drive-By Show at Zombie Joes Underground (FB).  The last weekend of January concludes with the Cantors Concert on Sat January 31 at Temple Ahavat Shalom, followed by a concert performance of the musical Redhead at Theatre West (FB).  February and March pick up even more. We have a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, February 7, so there may not be theatre that weekend (but who knows). The next week brings two shows: “Loch Ness” at the Chance Theatre (FB) on February 14 and “The Threepenny Opera” at A Noise Within (FB) on February 15. The weekend of February 21 is open; I’m hoping to find discount tickets for Saturday for Chavez Ravine at the Kirk Douglas. February closes with “The Road to Appomattox” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on February 28. March is equally busy, with the MRJ Man of the Year dinner on March 7, “Carrie: The Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) on March 14, a hold for “Drowsy Chaperone” at CSUN on Friday March 20, “Doubt” at REP East (FB) on Saturday March 21, “Newsies” at the Pantages (FB) on March 28, followed by Pesach and the Renaissance Faire on April 11. Other than the Faire, April is pretty much open. Additionally, there’s a Marcy and Zina concert at Pepperdine on Tuesday, February 3; alas, as it is a weeknight, I probably won’t make it. 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 Stew: Mostly Twofers

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 24, 2015 @ 11:10 am PDT

userpic=observationsIt’s Saturday, and that means it is time to clean the links. This week’s collection of links is a bunch of twofers, with a few singlets. Here goes…

Lastly, a twofer solely because it consists of two singlets [ETA: Well, make that three]:

 

Yesterday…

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jan 22, 2015 @ 11:55 am PDT

userpic=sheriffjohnIt’s not just a song by the Beatles. You remember them. That was the group Paul McCartney was in before Wings. Paul McCartney? Sigh. He’s that old geezer who sang with Kanye West.

Oh, where was I? Ah yes, Yesterday. It was my birthday. I thank all the people over on Facebook who wished me well — it was appreciated on a crazy day concluded with a Temple Board Meeting and Calendaring meeting. In honor of the day and the new number, a little song (slightly modified):

So when you find it in your mailbox for the first time my friend
You can tell that you getting older, you’re turning grey
It’s a first sign of decline, it’s a start of the end
When your wrinkles out number your hairs
then it’s headed your way

Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine, means you’re getting old
When you get the magazine
that you hide from your friends
Once it was Rolling Stone, it was thrill after thrill
Now Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine means over the hill

When Mick Jagger has his breakfast of yogurt and bran
Does he read of prescriptions by mail or of self-rising chairs
You can keep on rockin’ and rollin’ as long as you can
But then you sit in your little seat and you ride up the stairs

Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine, means you’re getting old
When you get the magazine
that you hide from your friends
Once it was Rolling Stone, it was thrill after thrill
Now Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine means over the hill

I’ve looked through its pages and what I see there
Is that everyone looks about twenty-five with white hair

You can buy polyester pants for nineteen ninety-five
You can get your grandchildren’s picture on your coffee cup
And if you’re tired of walking
there’s a scooter that you can drive
Or a button to push if you’ve fallen
and you can’t get up

Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine, means you’re getting old
When you get the magazine
that you hide from your friends
Once it was Rolling Stone, it was thrill after thrill
Now  Modern Maturity AARP Mag’zine means over the hill

MODERN MATURITY (Tom Paxton)
Copyright (c) 1993 Pax Music (ASCAP)

I mention this song because of an article I saw today: “Bob Dylan appears on the cover of AARP magazine“. Yup. Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan can go into Denny’s and get that senior discount, and their concerts (just like the recent episode of Mom) are filled with walker parking areas. Why is Dylan in AARP Magazine? Because he’s announcing an album of Frank Sinatra covers (which targets an even older group of AARP readers, although I’m finding I appreciate Sinatra more and more).

Now, excuse me while I chase some children off my artificial lawn. And that music they listen today, it’s … oh, nevermind.

Revisiting a Puppet Neighborhood

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 18, 2015 @ 9:16 am PDT

Avenue Q (Repertory East)userpic=repeastBack in 2004, a new musical (not based on a previous property) by a new composing team (Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) and a new book writer (Jeff Whitty) won the hearts of Broadway. It featured puppets — something that hadn’t been on Broadway since the days of Flahooley (1951) and Carnival! (1961) — and these puppets were major characters. It featured obscenities in the text, nudity on stage, and songs about the virtues of pornography. It took advantage of the fact that puppets† can often say and do things on stage that would be unacceptable if said by normal human characters in a normal context. It was groundbreaking. It went on to win numerous Tony awards; and one of its composers, Robert Lopez, went on to compose for the Tony-winning The Book of Mormon and the mega-hit Frozen. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the musical in question was Avenue Q, currently on the stage at Repertory East Playhouse [REP] (FB) in Newhall.
(† A fact also true of science fiction, which is why Star Trek could tell the stories it did)

We first saw Avenue Q in 2007 at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Big theatre — seating over 2,000. We were sitting far away from the stage, and the puppets were very small. The show still mesmerized, but the actors blended together for — at a distance — you could see the puppet faces but not the actors.

Last night (if you hadn’t figured it out by now), we saw Avenue Q at REP. Small theatre — 81 seats. We were in the front row, up close and personal with the puppets. This is a very different experience, and one that allows you to see the performance in a very different light. You might not think Avenue Q would work in an intimate theatre setting, but it does; in fact, it works very well and gives a very different experience.

For those not familiar with Avenue Q, you might think: “Ah, muppet-stype puppets. It must be good for kids.” This isn’t a kids show; it’s barely a teens show. This is an adult show, and it presents themes and concepts to which post-college adults will relate. It makes visible the disillusionment that faces a newly minted college grad. It shows that post-college life is hard and often not a bed of roses. It shows that bad ideas, while sounding good, can get us into trouble. It shows that relationships can be difficult and frustrating. But at its heart it is a hopeful music, arguing that any set back or disillusionment is only temporary, and that you will get through it.

The story of Avenue Q can be found easily on sites like Wikipedia. It basically concerns fresh-out graduate Princeton ending up on Avenue Q in an outer-outer borough of New York, because that’s what he can afford. He rents a room from the superintendent, Gary Coleman, and gets to know the other inhabitants of the street: Rod, an uptight investment banker and his roommate, Nicky (modeled after Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street); Brian and his fiancee Christmas Eve, an out of work comic and an out of work therapist; Kate Monster, a kingergarten TA; and Trekkie Monster, who has an Internet obsession. Princeton quickly loses  his job, and decided to find his purpose in life. Along the way, he falls in love with Kate, makes bad decisions (egged on by the Bad News Bears), sleeps with the local slut (Lucy T. Slut), and… never finds his purpose. Similarly, the other characters deal with the decisions in their life — good and bad — and illustrate a lot of foibles of modern society — Internet porn, lurking racism, closeted homosexuality — in ways that make the message hit home.

The songs in Avenue Q are some of my favorites, simply because of the depth of meaning behind some of them. I particularly like “The More You Ruv Someone” and “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” for their poignancy. The former — which stripped of its language stereotype could be a wonderful torch song — reflects the fact that love isn’t always the sweetness and light you see in the movies; that in real life, your lover sometime infuriates you and frustrates you and makes you want to kill them — but that fact that you don’t is what makes it love. The latter reflects something everyone feels — that adult life is far too hard, and that it would be so nice to go back to the those carefree college days, but you can’t. Two other favorite songs I like because of the upbeat tunes and the truth behind the songs: “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is for Porn”. Both reflects facts of life that people refuse to admit; however, admitting them is actually very freeing and makes you realize that in your faults, you’re no different than anyone else.

Let’s turn to the characters and to the performances. Many of the characters in this show are puppets, either single-rod, double-rod, or live hand. There is no attempt to hide the actors manipulating and voicing the puppets — they are visible, with visible faces, simply wearing black clothing. The only “face” characters — humans that play their characters — are Brian, Christmas Eve, and Gary Coleman. So before we go into the actors, let’s look at the puppets. For this show, REP rented the puppets, which were designed by Sean Harrington, a scenic designer for another group we like, Actors Rep of Semi (FB). He created the puppets via Kickstarter for ARTS, and rents them through his wife’s organization, 1STAGE Repertory (FB) (a Childrens Theatre Group).‡ You can see what the puppets looked like on his rental site. Evidently, the Broadway designer, Rick Lyons, either doesn’t license his puppet designs (or didn’t license them at the time of puppet production), so the look of the puppet’s reflects Sean’s conception of the characters. Mostly, they worked well. I wasn’t that crazy about the look of Kate Monster as the color and length of the monster fur was a little bit off, and the look of Nicky gave off much less of an Ernie vibe, but overall they worked satisfactory. At times, when the performers were belting, the mouths of the puppets weren’t opening quite as wide — I don’t know if this is a construction artifact or an actor/puppet coordination artifact. In any case, it was truly a minor nit. I will note that the show had a different feel when you are up-close and personal with the puppets, an order of magnitude distance difference from the Ahmanson (10 vs 100 feet).
(‡: See, I do research these write-ups.)

One of the distinct advantages of being up close and personal is that you can see the actors — and at that distance, you can see that the actors are much more than puppet manipulators. These actors are playing and living the characters — often multiple characters — while just not in the puppet costume. Imagine the puppets with the actors’ faces, expressions and enthusiasm, and you know what I mean. The two meld into one in your mind. This is the magic of theatre — and what makes it even more magical was the quality of the REP cast. In the lead character positions were Nic Olsen (FB) voicing/manipulating Princeton and Rod, and Kristen Heitman (FB) voicing/manipulating Kate Monster and Lucy. Nic is himself a fresh-out and new to the LA stages; he brings that fresh-out spirit and enthusiasm to the character of Princeton and really blended with the character with a great performance. Watch his face during the show if you don’t believe me. He has a lovely voice and was very enjoyable in his numbers. I was even more taken with Kristen, who we’ve seen before on the REP stage (notably Caberet in 2011 and Trailer Park in 2012). I was blown over by her perkiness and vocal quality back then, and I was blown over last night. Again, she melds with the perkiness of Kate Monster and gives a wonderful acting performance and an outstanding vocal performance. Just watch her face during “The Internet is For Porn”, and you’ll see what I mean. About the only minor problems were some sound misdirection when she was manipulating one character and voicing another, and I’m sure that’s an artifact of our sitting close, and some minor puppet mouth timings. All that shows is that puppets are hard to manipulate… but as I was mesmerized by her face, it didn’t matter :-).

The three main human characters are Donna Marie Sergi (FB) as Christmas Eve, Jeremiah Lowder (FB) as Brian, and Chanel Edwards-Frederick (FB) as Gary Coleman. Let’s start with the newcomer to the REP stage, another fresh-out, Chanel Edwards-Frederick. Despite one or two line problems, quickly recovered, she blew me away with her vocal performance and her acting. Chanel has a wonderful gospel voice, and I hope she finds more shows in which she can showcase it. Just listen to her in “Schadenfreude”, and you’ll see what I mean. We’ve seen both Donna Marie and Jeremiah before. Donna Marie was wonderful (as always) and seemed to be having fun with her stereotyped character. She gave a great performance in “The More You Ruv Someone”, when you could hear hints of her real vocal quality over the character; this was also apparent when she was singing near us. Jeremiah, who wore many hats in this show (although he didn’t manipulate puppets, he served as music director and did the video designs), was fun and affable as Brian.

Rounding out the major characters on the street was Nick Echols (FB), who voiced/manipulated Nicky, Trekkie Monster, and numerous others. As Nicky, he gave a good performance capturing the character well on his face, although not being fully “Earnie”-ish in his voice (not necessarily a bad thing, as Nicky isn’t Earnie, but the echo is nice). Trekkie was performed well (although he could have been a bit clearer in “The Internet is For Porn”); when doing Trekkie, one tends not to see the actor’s face.

The two remaining cast members, Allison Lindsey Williams (FB) and Ryan Shrewsbury (FB), covered numerous characters, and often provided backup manipulation to major characters when the primary actor was handling a different major character. In those roles they were silent, although their faces were wonderfully expressive. They got to speak when they were voicing the Bad News Bears. I’ll particularly note one performer here: Ms. Williams. It was nice to see her again; we last saw her in Sex and Education at The Colony Theatre (FB), which was one of my most impactful shows of 2014. I’ll also note that the kids voices on the videos were provided by the O’s Executive Director’s lovely daughter, Isabelle.

The production was directed by Todd Larsen (FB), who presumably did the choreography and movement as well. Larsen did a great job of bringing out the expressiveness of the actors while they were manipulating the puppets. He also integrated the puppet movement well particularly given the limited development time for intimate theatre. Some small improvements in coordination between puppet speech and human speech could be done here, but this is something that I think will improve through the run. A very good job.

Turning to the technical and backstage side of things: The scenic design was by Ovington Michael Owston (FB), the REP Executive Director. He noted that the idea was a set that looked like it had been done in crayon, and there were even little design touches from his daughter, as well as from Connor Pratt/FB and Frank Rock/FB. More significantly for the REP regulars (who know about the hidden “81”s on the set — there are four, we could only find three), there were visual call-outs on the set to two members of the REP family: Michael Levine, who passed away in December 2013, and Darel Roberts, who passed away in December 2014.  This is a visual demonstration of why REP is more than a theatre — to its regulars (actors, technicians, staff, and audience), it is a family. Sound design was  by REP regular Nanook/FB. It was the first time I’ve seen microphones used at the REP, and they were at times a little muddy in the sound. Again, I’m sure this will be adjusted as things shake out in the run. Lighting design was by Jeffrey Hampton/FB and Tim Christianson/FB and mostly worked well. There were some technical difficulties with one light at our performance; the actors dealt with it well, and Tim was up on a ladder at the end of the show swapping out the misbehaving light. The videos were designed by Jeremiah Lowder (FB) and were (a) cute and (b) worked well. Kim Iosue/FB was the stage manager, assisted by Jeffrey Hampton/FB and Connor Pratt/FB. J. T. Centonze (FB) was behind the bar :-). Avenue Q was produced by Ovington Michael Owston (FB) and  Mikee Schwinn/FB.

Rep East Season 11Avenue Q continues at Repertory East Playhouse [REP] (FB) through February 14. It is well worth seeing. Tickets are available through the REP Online Box office, or by calling 661-288-0000. A limited number are available on Goldstar,  although many shows are sold out. REP has also announced the remainder of their 11th season: Doubt (March 6 – April 4); Beer for Breakfast (May 8 – June 6); Jesus Christ Superstar (July 10 – August 15); The Diviners (September 18 – October 17); and Deathtrap (November 13 – December 12). I’m sure there will be additional one-or-two weekend shows and fundraisers throughout this period as well.

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

Upcoming Shows: Next weekend brings an interesting mashup: Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) at Theatre Asylum (FB) — this show is described as  “Ever wonder what Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece PULP FICTION would be like reimagined by the immortal William Shakespeare?”. I’m also debating an additional show for Sunday — perhaps going to see Colin of Bitter Lemons at the ZJU 50 Hour Drive-By Show, Disconnection in Beverly Hills, or possibly Serrano: The Musical (although there are no discount tickets except for “day of” through Plays411.net). The last weekend of January concludes with the Cantors Concert on Sat January 31 at Temple Ahavat Shalom, and I’m potentially looking for another show for Sunday (again, Disconnection, Serrano, or possibly Chavez Ravine at the Kirk Douglas). February and March pick up even more. We have a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, February 7, so there may not be theatre that weekend (but who knows). The next week brings two shows: “Loch Ness” at the Chance Theatre (FB) on February 14 and “The Threepenny Opera” at A Noise Within (FB) on February 15. The weekend of February 21 is open; however, the one show that interests me (Fugue) only has Sunday tickets, and my Sunday is booked with non-theatre stuff.  February closes with “The Road to Appomattox” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on February 28. March is equally busy, with the MRJ Man of the Year dinner on March 7, “Carrie: The Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) on March 14, a hold for “Drowsy Chaperone” at CSUN on Friday March 20, “Doubt” at REP East (FB) on Saturday March 21, “Newsies” at the Pantages (FB) on March 28, followed by Pesach and the Renaissance Faire on April 11. Additionally, there’s a Marcy and Zina concert at Pepperdine on Tuesday, February 3; alas, as it is a weeknight, I probably won’t make it. 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.