Observations Along the Road

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

Oh, Boy! | “Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman” @ TAS Northridge

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Oct 30, 2016 @ 1:56 pm PST

Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Shermanuserpic=theatre_ticketsIt started with Bruce Kimmel (FB). I had participated in the Kickstarter for Bruce’s revue “Los Angeles: Then and Now” at LACC. It was there I met  Linden Waddell (FB) and learned about her one-woman show, Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman. I thought it would be a good fit for our congregation, Temple Ahavat Shalom (FB) in Northridge. After some back and forth, we ended up booking the show as a fundraiser for the Men of TAS (FB) and the TAS Sisterhood (FB). Thus began my second stint wearing the hat of a producer :-), similar to my ACSAC Experience.

Last night was the show, and now I can return to my traditional hat — one that fits better — that of a professional audience.  I’ll note that although I had booked Linden’s show based on the strength of her personality and my love of Allan Sherman‘s catalogue. I had actually not watched her You-Tube clip, so the show itself was a complete surprise … and a delight.

It wasn’t just me that loved the show. As the show was going on, I was watching the rest of the congregation audience. Universal smiles. People singing along quietly. After the show, talking to the attendees, there was universal acclaim.  Although many of the younger generation have forgotten Allan Sherman, with their only exposure to parody being Weird Al, the generation in attendance grew up with these parodies, and it was a delight to hear them again. The live aspect added a lot to it — if you know about Allan Sherman, you know these songs were meant to be performed live — they started out as party parodies. It added something.

Linden’s show was not just a simple performance of songs. She brought characterizations and accents and stories to add to the songs, and provided history and context to the songs. It went over very well, and the audience interaction was a delight.

Linden adjusts the songs for the audiences; at our show, the playlist was as follows:

  1. Parody Tonight (an introductory adaptation of Sondheim’s Comedy Tonight to set the context of the show)
  2. There is Nothing Like a Lox
  3. Green Stamps
  4. Academy Award Medly: Call Me / Secret Code / Chopped Liver / Overweight People
  5. Taking Lessons
  6. Crazy Downtown
  7. Shticks Medly
  8. You’re the Top
  9. Sir Greenbaum’s Madrigal
  10. Your Mother’s Here to Stay
  11. The Ballad of Harry Lewis
  12. Skin
  13. How Deep is the Ocean/Birdbath
  14. One Hippopotami
  15. Night and Day (with punctuation marks included)
  16. When I’m In The Mood for Love
  17. Harvey and Sheila
  18. Smog Gets In Your Eyes
  19. All of My Laughter (from The Fig Leaves are Falling)
  20. Shake Hands with your Uncle Max
  21. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

What’s nice is that there was  a mix of the familiar and unknown (and that unknown was Amazon’s gain, as I filled in the 6 albums I was missing). Songs that I hadn’t known — such as “Secret Code” or “All of My Laughter”, and it was amazing how many of these songs — from 60 years ago — were still relevant today. You can really see how artists like Weird Al owe there existence to artists like Allan Sherman.

About the only regret I have with the show is that the audience was not bigger. We tried our best to spread the word via social media and promotion, but it obviously didn’t reach the right demographic. This wasn’t the fault of the show — it was our learning curve on this aspect (and one I think many groups need to learn — from my conference experience, publicity is one of the hardest jobs there is and one that often gets left to those without the connections to do it right). A number of attendees expressed interest after the show in booking it for groups they know — I think that is a wonderful testament to the universality combined with nostalgia of this music. Still, I’d estimate we had nearly 100 at the show, which is pretty good attendance.

Linden was accompanied during the show by accompanist Marjorie Poe, who join in on a few songs.

Production credits: The show was directed by Janet Miller (FB), who alas was not in attendance (I enjoy seeing Janet). Linden is booked by Jeannine Frank / Frank Entertainment. On the Temple side, credit goes to the members of the Sherman Show committee: Jackie Zev, Jennifer Kassoy, Larry Hoffman, Roger Lowe, and lil ole me. Our sound was run by Andrew Petrak and Jacob Zonis, alumni of the Nobel Middle School Drama program. A special shout out to Aaron Solomon, the TAS Executive Director, who came over in the late afternoon to help us figure out how to get the connections right and the sound working perfectly. Thank you also to the spouses who helped (Karen Davis (my lovely wife) and Dorothy Hoffman), and all the kids and volunteers who helped usher and set up. A special thank you to our sponsors: Larry and Dorothy Hoffman, and Bernard and Tamara Singer.

If you remember Allan Sherman — and even if you only know Weird Al — I’d recommend you see this show. Alas, for us, it was a one-time event. Luckily, for you, you can check Linden’s website and find future showings.

* * *

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), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB).  The Chromolume 2017 season looks particularly good: Zanna Don’t (Tim Acito, January 13 – February 5), Hello Again (Michael John LaChiusa, May 5- May 28), and Pacific Overtures (Stephen Sondheim, September 15 – October 8) — all for only $60). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 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:  November starts with another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB): Culture Clash’s Vote or Die Laughing. The following weekend brings Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Nottingham Festival (FB). We then lose a weekend as we travel to Palo Alto for a Bar Mitzvah. The third weekend of November brings Funny Girl, a Conundrum Theatre Company (FB) guest production at  The Colony Theatre (FB) and a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]. November concludes with a HOLD date for Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. The last month of the year will include Into the Woods at Nobel Middle School, the CSUN Jazz Band at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), Amalie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), The King and I at the Hollywood Pantages (FB); an unspecified movie on Christmas day; and a return to our New Years Eve Gaming Party.

Turning to 2017, January currently is quiet, with just a single hold date for Zanna Don’t at the Chromolume Theatre (FB). February 2017 gets back to being busy: with a hold for Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum (FB) the first weekend. The second weekend brings 33 Variations at Actors Co-op (FB). The third weekend has a hold for the WGI Winter Regionals. The last weekend in February brings Finding Neverland at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). March quiets down a bit — at least as currently scheduled — with Fun Home at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) at the beginning of the month, and An American in Paris at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) at the end of the month.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, Musicals in LA, @ This Stage, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Although we can’t make it, I also recommend the 10th Anniversary Production of The Brain from Planet X at LACC. Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

Decision 2016: An Encounter with a Trump Supporter

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Oct 28, 2016 @ 12:52 pm PST

userpic=obama-hillary-california,politicsI’m working from home today as I have some doctor’s appointments, one of which was with my neurologist on my migraines. While I was there, talked turn to the crazy elections, and it became clear I was with a Trump supporter, if not a sympathizer. I just tried to listen and bite my tongue (as I didn’t want to create a migraine), and what I heard was very illustrative. I believe it is important to understand the other sides even if you don’t agree, so I would like to share with you what I heard and my thoughts on it.

My doctor is an ethnic Chinese immigrant, with a son near college age, who runs a small medical practice. The first concern she expressed to me was affirmative action: how Hispanics and Blacks are more easily accepted to colleges and get promoted over whites, and Asians who are treated as white. When you think about it, this is one of the major complaints of the white populace that is supporting Trump: the push for diversity is taking away our jobs — he is directly feeding on that anger and resentment. Now, those of us on the liberal side of the spectrum know this happens to some extent, but we also see the value of diversity, and the value of making up for past wrongs in the area of diversity. We also see the implicit privilege that comes from the lighter skin. But when faced with this question from the right, what do we say? We can’t make the promises that Trump makes to those folks — that we’ll go back to the way we were. The world is changing, and a world based only on merit does not exist (as if it ever did, for many lower-income people with merit never had the means to sharpen that merit or to make that merit known).

The next area of discussion was immigration — not immigration from Mexico, but Muslim immigrants. This is an area where the fear and uncertainty was amped up. There was fear of Muslims in society, of Muslims in the neighborhood. Drawing upon the attacks in other countries, there was the fear that all Muslims were jihadists and radicals. This is one of those irrational fears — you can say that it isn’t true, but that won’t be convincing. You can quote statistics, and those aren’t convincing. Especially coming from her strong Christian background, there just is scant knowledge of Islam and its precepts — I’d venture to guess that Jews know more about Islam than Christians. I think for many progressives, there just isn’t that innate fear of the stranger, of the Muslim, that there is on the conservative side. How do we combat that fear? It will take time — think about how long we had Jews on radio and TV before they moved from stereotypes to accepted. We haven’t even started that process with Muslims — name a mainstream TV show where the lead or major characters are really Muslim.

Another topic was free speech. She expressed the position that all media was biased, and there was no free speech anymore. She mentioned how bedroom talk (such as between Donald Sterling and his mistress) was made public and then used to destroy a man, and how every had to be politically correct in everything, to the point of having the news on a x-second delay. Now, we know that most real, journalistic media (as opposed to many internet sources) are relatively fair and unbiased, and often “political correctness” is just awareness of the impact of our words on others, but again, I could see her point of view.

Other points of contention was government spending to defend other countries, whilst veterans receive poor medical care and little mental health care. There was concerns about gun control, and the upcoming rules that will restrict ammo purchases. There was concern about immigrants coming to this country and taking taking taking. There was a general opinion that the country is going in the wrong direction.

Mind you, I did not agree with any of this, but kept my mouth shut. But her concerns, I believe, are important to hear. They underlie the support for Donald Trump. These are concerns about what is wrong with Hillary (although I’m sure I could have gotten some). They are areas where someone who is privileged middle class is seeing a direct threat to those privileges, and believes the best way to address that threat is a leader who promises to restore America to what it once was. Remember: Trump’s slogan isn’t “Make America Great”. It is “Make America Great Again“. That “Again” is key — it means we are going back to a safe and comfortable time when everything seemed good (if you were in the right group), and all those pesky and petty concerns of today (sexism, racism, abilism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, etc) were just not considered.

Edited to Add: An interesting realization I had discussing this on FB: Trump appeals to his supporter’s fears. Clinton appeals to her supporter’s hopes. That difference — fear vs. hope — is the vital distinction in this election.

It is vitally important for us to see why the Trump supporters feel that way, and what they want. We then have to ask: What will allay those concerns in the Clinton era? How do we convince people that diversity improves life for all, not just those not of the predominant spectrum? How do we show why political correctness and addressing the various -isms are important to society? How do we get the message across that Clinton’s plans will do these things, will make society better for all.

If we fail to do this — if we fail to know Clinton’s plans well enough to address the fears and discomfort of the other side — we’re going to remain divided. As progressives, we need to be able to make the case of not just why Trump is wrong, but why Clinton is right — and more importantly, why her approaches (although different than Donald’s) will still benefit them.

The political discussion did not turn me off of a good doctor (I just will be more cautious on politics). It did make me realize how much of the people with whom I interact are an echo chamber, so I don’t see the other side. We need to embrace (within reason) the contrary voices around us, hear them (but not necessarily agree), and learn from each other.

Decision 2016: Adding Abortion to the Heap

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Oct 25, 2016 @ 12:15 pm PST

userpic=bushbabyAs I’m home sick today, I’d like to share some election related thoughts over lunch. In particular, I’d like to share some thoughts as to why Donald Trump’s stated position on abortion, as expressed during the final debate, should be yet another factor that causes you to vote against him and to vote for Secretary Clinton.

Going in, let’s have some stipulations:

Hillary Clinton is not “Pro-Abortion” — that is, she does not support the notion of removing a healthy, viable infant from their healthy, viable mother through anything other than the normal birth process or caesarean section in lieu thereof.

Hillary Clinton does not want you to compromise how you apply your religious beliefs to your body. In other words, if you do not believe in abortions, no one is going to make you have one.

In those stipulations above, however, are the reasons why you should support Clinton in this area and not Trump. In fact, they are the primary reasons why you should join what is called the “Pro-Choice” camp. Let me go over them, perhap in reverse order.

  • I can completely understand if your religion tells you that abortion is wrong, and that you shouldn’t do it. How you practice your religion is up to you completely. Where the difficulty comes is when one religion attempts to use Federal law to force its religious values on others. I’m Jewish. There are groups in Judaism that insist on keeping Kosher. Would it be right for that group to insist that everyone in the country keep Kosher? No. In the same way, it is wrong to say that just because your religion thinks abortion is wrong, it needs to be prohibited at the Federal level.
  • Further, a central teaching of Judaism and Christianity is that one commandment is not greater than another. It is equally wrong to eat bacon, mix linen and wool, or commit murder. Similarly, in Christianity. So unless you are going to impose complete religious law everywhere (and of course you see the problem with that), there is no point in banning abortion. Understanding this make clear what the real abortion fight is about: those in power (typically men) wanting control over women by dictating what they can do with their bodies. That’s appropriate for a farmer in a stable dealing with a pregnant cow that they own, not a man to a woman.
  • There is the belief that if abortion is legal, everyone will be having one. That’s completely wrong. Legal does not mean “everyone do it”. It is legal to own guns, but everyone doesn’t own guns. For some, it is against their beliefs. Similarly, with abortion, people will follow their beliefs, and if their religion or other beliefs dictate to not have abortions, they won’t.
  • Just as with guns, the issue is not banning them, but putting in reasonable restrictions. In this situation, there are primarily four, emboded in “healthy, viable infant” and “healthy, viable mother”. First and foremost, the courts have ruled that abortions, in general, can’t happen after a certain point — basically, when the fetus could live on its own outside the womb, independent of its mother. That’s the distinction between fetus and infant/baby, and why abortion is not killing babies. The second distinction is healthy. If giving birth to the child would endanger the life of the mother, abortion is generally permitted. Similarly, if the fetus is not healthy (i.e., exhibits significant abnormality or genetic deformity), abortion is permitted.
  • Note that it is the “health” issue that is the “slippery slope”. Where does mental health come into play — a fetus that is the result of a violent rape can have significant mental health problems for the mother. Where does degree of disability of the fetus come into play — is it right to abort a fetus that clearly will have a mental or physical deformity that is not life threatening. The answer here is that it should not be the government’s place to decide this. This is a hard decision, and should be made with in consultation between the mother, her family, clergy (as appropriate), and medical professionals.
  • But what, some say, about abortions of convenience. We all know those happen as well. But even in such cases, it is the mother’s decision to make, not the government’s. Such abortions will happen whether they are legal or not — changing the law will not change that. So is it better that they happen with medical supervision in a health-care environment so that both mother and child are not lost.
  • Nothing related to permitting abortion makes adoption less emphasized; adoption should always be encouraged as an option if the mother is willing. Similarly, increase availability of birth control can reduce the need for abortions.

During the most recent debate, Donald Trump indicated he wanted the Federal government to not have abortion as a right by overturning Roe v. Wade. This would put the decision back in the hands of the states, and it would be equally wrong for states to impose a religion-based law. It must be legal at the Federal level (which is Hillary Clinton’s position), and left to the individual mother to decide. If you are religiously opposed to abortion, look at how Hillary’s running mate, Tim Kaine, is addressing the issue:

Kaine, a Roman Catholic who worked as a missionary in Honduras reiterated his personal opposition to abortion, but maintained the practice should not be outlawed.

When asked if he’d like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe the Governor answered, “I don’t think the Supreme Court should.” He continued, “Roe vs. Wade is ultimately about saying that there is a realm of personal liberty for people to make this decision.”

Scary Inferences | “Turn of the Screw” @ Actors Co-Op

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Oct 23, 2016 @ 9:54 am PST

Turn of the Screw (Actors Co-Op)actors co-op-userpicThis has been a summer of drawing inferences from very little information. Mail is deleted from Hillary Clinton’s email server, and we create inferences in our head from almost no actual information. Similarly, Donald Trump does not release his tax returns, and we start inferring what is in those returns from very little information. This lack of information engages our imagination, and the explanation we create can be very frightful. Whether it is the truth, however, we may never know. But it scares us nevertheless.

In the theatre, minimal information can manifest itself in many ways. One can have minimal sets and costumes, such as in the recent Our Town at Actor’s Co-Op.  In that production, you had a large cast of actors with minimal set and minimal costumes. It was done that way because that is the direction from the playwright — he wanted the audience to focus on the story and relationships, and not be distracted by other eye candy.  It is what, in essence, made Our Town into Every Town.

Another way that minimal information can manifest itself is through minimal casts. Consider the recent Gutenberg: The Musical we saw in San Diego, or the production of Murder for Two that was at the Geffen in 2015. Both had casts of just two, and required the audience to use their imaginations to establish the multitude of characters portrayed simply through voice and mannerisms. Murder for Two is particularly interesting in this regard: one actor portrayed one main character, and the other actor portrayed every other character.

Letting the audience (or the reader) infer is a long-standing literary and theatrical trick. One classic horror story where this technique is used is Henry James‘ “The Turn of the Screw“, published in 1898. The novella uses imagery and framing and storytelling techniques to only hint at the horror, and to leave it to the reader to come up with their own interpretation of the conclusion. The novella has been adapted into many different forms; last night, we saw Jeffery Hatcher‘s 1997 interpretation of the story at Actors Co-op (FB). Like the novella, this adaptation specifically requires minimal sets (just some stairs), minimal actors (just two), minimal sound effects (just from the actors), and minimal costumes (no costume changes)… and the story conveys minimal information about what happened, what is real or is not, and the whys and wherefores. It is left to the audience to infer.

By now, you’re probably wondering what the story is. You can read a synopsis of the original novella here. Here’s the setup; I won’t disclose the ending:  An unnamed narrator tells the story of a former governess whom he claims to have known.  The story begins when the young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. He lives mainly in London and is uninterested in raising the children. The older boy, Miles, is attending a boarding school, while his younger sister, Flora, is living at their parent’s estate, Bly, in Essex. Flora is currently being cared for by Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper. Miles and Flora’s uncle, the governess’ new employer, gives her full charge of the children and explicitly states that she is not to bother him with communications of any sort. The governess travels to Bly and begins her duties. Miles soon returns from school for the summer just after a letter arrives from the headmaster stating that he has been expelled for an unspeakable reason. Miles never speaks of the matter, and the governess is hesitant to raise the issue. The girl, Flora, does not speak and has not spoken since the death of her parents. Soon thereafter, around the grounds of the estate, the governess begins to see the figures of a man and woman whom she does not recognize. These figures come and go at will without ever being seen or challenged by other members of the household, and the governess does not know what to make of them. She learns from Mrs. Grose that her predecessor, Miss Jessel, and another employee, Peter Quint, had a sexual relationship. Before their deaths, Jessel and Quint spent much of their time with Flora and Miles… and from there, well, you’ll either need to read the story or go see the play. I recommend the latter.

This lack of information leads the audience to fill in the pieces. It is up to them to determine, for example, if Quint and Jessel are real, are ghosts, or are just figments of an imagination. They get to infer exactly what it is that Miles did, and what drove Flora not to speak. There are hints, but no pre-determined explanation. This may be difficult for some audience members who have been raised on being spoon-fed a plot, but it is a great thought exercise. It also makes for wonderful car discussion as you drive home from the play with the people you shared the experience with.

Turn of the Screw (Production Photo)In such a presentation, the real power of the storytelling is in the director and the actors. It is their responsibility to become the various characters through voice and mannerisms, to make the audience imagine the locales and the space within. This is difficult in a traditional proscenium arch theatre (i.e., your typical stage); it is even harder in a “theatre in the round” such as the Crossley space at Actors Co-Op. Luckily, the director, Robertson Dean, and the actors, Natalie Hope MacMillan (FB) and Isaac Wade (FB) were up to the task.  MacMillan played the Governess, and Wade played every other character — the narrator, the employer, Mrs. Grose, Miles, and Quint. MacMillan’s Governess was an interesting exploration of discovery: she started out artificially confident, and learned how to channel that confidence into an attitude of authority, until (as is common) past trauma came out to change her. Wade was her equal — if not more — easily moving from the detached employer to the concerned housekeeper to the childish boy, portraying them all with different stances and voices and such. The director, Dean, as we learned during the talkback, gave them time and leeway to explore and develop their characters, and to figure out how to move and express the relationships in a space with no props as references.

Speaking of these minimal aspects: Ellen Lenbergs (FB) developed what little scenic design there was, and David B. Marling similarly developed the minimal sound design. The lighting design by Jean-Yves Tessier (FB) was similarly minimal: some uplights on the floor, some whites and blues from above. The costumes by Jenny Foldenauer (FB) were similarly stark: an austere head to toe black dress for MacMillan, and a dark-brown suit and waist-coat for Wade. The real scenic designer — beyond the director — was the dialect coach, E. K. Dagenfield (FB). Rounding out the production credits are Nicholas Acciani (FB) (Stage Manager); Heather Chesley (FB) (Artistic Chair); David Elzer (FB) (Marketing / Publicist); and Selah Victor (FB) [Production Manager]. The Turn of the Screw was produced by Rory Patterson (FB).

The Turn of the Screw continues at Actors Co-op (FB) through November 20, 2016. Tickets are available through the Actor’s Co-op Website. Discount tickets may be available through Goldstar or LA Stage Tix.  This is an interesting mystery/horror play, and worth seeing.

* * *

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), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB).  The Chromolume 2017 season looks particularly good: Zanna Don’t (Tim Acito, January 13 – February 5), Hello Again (Michael John LaChiusa, May 5- May 28), and Pacific Overtures (Stephen Sondheim, September 15 – October 8) — all for only $60). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 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:  The last weekend of October brings Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom (a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood).

Allan Sherman Tribute Show at TASInterrupting this recap for a word from a sponsor: Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom is open to the community, and is a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood. Please tell your friends about it. I’m Past President of MoTAS, and I really want this to be a success. Click on the flyer to the right for more information. It should be a really funny night.

November starts with another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB): Culture Clash’s Vote or Die Laughing. The following weekend brings Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Nottingham Festival (FB). We then lose a weekend as we travel to Palo Alto for a Bar Mitzvah. The third weekend of November brings Funny Girl, a Conundrum Theatre Company (FB) guest production at  The Colony Theatre (FB) and a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]. November concludes with a HOLD date for Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. The last month of the year will include Into the Woods at Nobel Middle School, the CSUN Jazz Band at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), Amalie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), The King and I at the Hollywood Pantages (FB); an unspecified movie on Christmas day; and a return to our New Years Eve Gaming Party.

Turning to 2017, January currently is quiet, with just a single hold date for Zanna Don’t at the Chromolume Theatre (FB). February 2017 gets back to being busy: with a hold for Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum (FB) the first weekend. The second weekend brings 33 Variations at Actors Co-op (FB). The third weekend has a hold for the WGI Winter Regionals. The last weekend in February brings Finding Neverland at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). March quiets down a bit — at least as currently scheduled — with Fun Home at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) at the beginning of the month, and An American in Paris at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) at the end of the month.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, Musicals in LA, @ This Stage, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Although we can’t make it, I also recommend the 10th Anniversary Production of The Brain from Planet X at LACC. Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

Living History, Pardnah

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 22, 2016 @ 4:38 pm PST

Tumbleweek Township 2016userpic=faireThere’s a new Faire in Simi Valley, and we went to it today. Although, to be truthful, it isn’t really a Faire. However, it is Faire-like, and it is true to the spirit of Faire, and for something new, it is quite remarkable. It also raises some interesting questions.

It is Tumbleweed Township (FB), and it is a Living History event set in approximately the 1880s to 1890s in the West (actually, perhaps what Simi Valley was at that time). This event is put on by the same folks that do Nottingham Festival (FB), a new Renaissance Faire in Simi Valley in mid-November. Like Nottingham, the folks behind the event (Actors Rep of Simi Valley (FB) and the Simi Valley Cultural Association (FB)) are dedicated to doing Faire like it was done originally — that is, going back to the first days of the first RenFaire in Ventura County. That means a dedication to living history, and less of a concern about profits and maximizing revenue. As they put it on the Nottingham page:

Since the days after the Faire put on by the Living History Center left Agoura, there has been a desire to bring a more accessible regional Renaissance style event back to the Ventura County area. A group of dedicated volunteers from the community along with the Actor’s Repertory Theater of Simi and the non-profit Simi Valley Cultural Association set out to make that dream a reality. Nottingham Festival will recreate the magic and revelry of an Elizabethan faire and marketplace with street performers and stage acts that will provide entertainment for all ages. Craft workers and reenactors from various guilds will entreat you to experience a taste of the handicrafts and lifestyle of the 16th Century. Our hope is that you will be well entertained and maybe even learn a thing or two about the time period and its people. Proceeds from this non-profit festival will be granted to smaller non-profit agencies in the surrounding communities, as well as some set aside for the further development of the arts programs for youth.

Tumbleweed is an attempt to create a new living history event — this one set in a township in the 1880s and 1890s. There are still many Faire-ish elements: food booths, craft booths, stages, and music. However, the crafts are a little bit different, the shows a bit more cowboy-ish, and the atmosphere — as befits the Western ethic — a lot less bawdy. There is also — thankfully — a lot less fantasy aspects. No pirates. No fairys. No fantasy elements. The closest fantasy elements are Steampunk. It’s also pretty easy to garb yourself — jeans, flannel shirts, cowboy belts and hats work just fine. Just no guns. Only the actors get replica guns. Per the agreement with Simi PD: “There shall be no firearms or replica firearms allowed to be brought onto the premises by the public.”

Now that you know what the notion behind what Tumbleweed is, how was it executed? Pretty good. It was very small this year.  There were perhaps 8 food vendors: turkey legs, BBQ chicken and steak and veggies, kettle corn, sandwiches, shave ice, ice cream, coffee, and of course, mead, whisky, and cider. There were about 15-20 vendors: a few clothing, jewelry, soaps, crafts, and such. There were three stages with a small number of shows. There were a few guild-like exhibits, including a quilting bee. There were games of chance. There was also the “Grand Exhibition Hall of Famous Personages” — which is like the “Explorers Hall” at Nottingham with famous people brought back to life, from Jenny Lind to Annie Oakley to Kit Carson, to Sacagawea to… you get the idea.

So, the town was small and attendence was moderate — but the idea is great. A big problem with Faire is that there are so many of them, and they are all similar, and all explore the same history. This was a new historical area, and actually relevant to when it took place. Simi Valley and California epitomize the west, and towns like this did exist. With better publicity, they could be starting a new trend (further, I could image this being something that Orange Empire Rwy Museum could do quite well).

But there are dangers as well. What RenFaire has become is fantasy; it rarely presents true living history anymore. This is good, because it is accepting of all races and creeds (whereas the original Elizabethan time would be less forgiving). If there is any parodying of culture, it is parodying of Anglo-Saxon culture. When we turn to the old West, however, we run the risk of stereotypical “Cowboys and Indians”, of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and this can be a danger. While there was freedom in the West, it also created a stereotypical view of the Native American — and care must be taken. However, done right, it can present a true picture of the relationship between Western settlers and their Native American neighbors — different from what the movies might present.

It also created the question in my mind of what other periods of living history might be ripe for equivalent events — and how might this be done without cultural approbation. Other eras have been done — just look at the successful Great Dickens Christman Fair and Victorian Holiday Party (FB) in the Bay Area. Doing a Feudal Japan Faire would probably not be a good idea. But what about Europe in the Dark Ages, well before Elizabeth. What about the mid-East in Biblical times? What about a Colonial faire? All could be quite interesting — and educational.

Coming back to Tumbleweed Township (FB): Was it a success? I can’t speak to financially for the participants, but I think it is a great idea, and we’ll certainly be back. I hope it grows, for it is an era that is worth exploring.

Tumbleweed Township (FB) runs for one more day, running 10 AM to 5 PM. Tickets are available online or at the gate. The event takes place at 3855 Alamo in Simi Valley across from the DMV!

Decision 2016: Understanding Email and Related Concerns

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Oct 21, 2016 @ 6:08 pm PST

userpic=cardboard-safeA number of people I know refuse to vote for Hillary because they believe she mishandled classified information, and that the FBI was wrong in not prosecuting her. I’d like to convince them otherwise. So let’s do some reasoning, shall we?

We are talking about email here. What is a unique characteristic of email? It has a sender and a receiver. Suppose you are friends with Jared Fogle, the Subway guy. He decides to send you an email with one of his favorite pictures of children attached. It arrives in your server, unsolicited. Are you guilty of possession of child pornography? Even if you delete it when you receive it? It’s a serious question. I was once at a security conference where someone said one of the best attacks in the world is to go to a conference room computer, load child porn from a thumb drive onto that computer, and then delete it… and then report the person for possessing child porn. Look, he even knew he was guilty when he deleted it, right?

Wrong. The criminal is the person that loaded the illegal material, not the recipient.

The same rules apply with classified information. If someone emails you a classified document over an unclassified system, the person who is in big trouble is the person who originated that document (i.e., took content they knew was classified and entered it into an unclassified system) in the first place. The person who receives it is suppose to recognize and report it (although that doesn’t always happen), and their computer is appropriately cleaned (often with only a minor warning to them, because it wasn’t their fault).

Think about what you know about Hillary’s server. The messages that were found were sent to her; she didn’t originate them. At worst (and this is a supposition), she inadvertently forwarded them because they were not marked properly (plus who would send her classified info on a public computer).

But, you say, people have been prosecuted for having classified information on unclassified computers. Yup. But look at those cases closely: they put that information on those systems, often with the intent to exfiltrate it to an unauthorized party. In fact, espionage laws requires that intent to be present, and provably present. I have not seen any articles that demonstrated that Secretary Clinton took a document she knew was classified, put it on her email server, and sent it to someone else with the explicit intent to exfiltrate it. That is why the FBI did not prosecute her, even though there was classified information found.

But, you say, she sent messages with classified information. Other than possibly inadvertent forwarding, my understanding of those incidents is that the information was not classified at the time it was sent; it was classified sometime later. In these cases, what matters is the classification at the time it was sent. Subsequent classification does not expose anything because there is nothing that indicates the original message was confirmed as classified information. It has the same status of classified information published by Wikileaks in the New York Times — if you don’t know it is classified, it has no authority.

Again, there is no evidence (and remember: one is innocent until proven guilty) that Secretary Clinton took information from a marked, classified document, and then entered that information onto her server with the intent to exfiltrate it. That is the crime.

If your sole reason for voting against Hillary is that you believe she mishandled classified information, then I suggest you change your mind. Secretary Clinton — as demonstrated by her debate behavior — is some that always thinks before she speaks and is always prepared. She knows what is classified, and does not discuss it publicly (unlike Donald Trump, who has disclosed some of his intelligence briefings). She is cautious in how she words things and says things; again, a behavior we have not seen in Mr. Trump). Secretary Clinton cannot control what people send her, and whether they mark it correctly. Her only infraction here is not recognizing mis-marked information and reporting it (for she has already acknowledged the mistake of having the private server in the first place, and indicated she would not do it again… and at the time she did it, private servers were permitted for unclassified information).

ETA 10/25/16: My friend Rick Smith over at Cryptosmith has a great article on this subject. Reading it, another cybersecurity colleague, Dave Bell, wrote: “This is a nice exegesis of the laws and regulations surrounding classified information in general and classified email in particular. Lapses in following Department rules on disclosure are not ILLEGAL (in the sense of violating laws) unless the information is covered by the Espionage Act (circa WWI) or the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. The article points to a more detailed, lawyerly article.”

Lastly, you’ll say, she deleted all this email. That make her guilty of something, right? Nope. In America, absence of evidence does not imply guilt. The courts require that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is a presumption of innocence. Just as Mr. Trump is not guilty of all the sexual assault claims until he has his day in court, and the actual evidence presented and a jury convinced, Secretary Clinton is innocent until there is actual evidence of a crime with a conviction. One cannot have the standards be different for some citizens.

So, let’s drop the whole canard about Hillary’s emails. It is up there in the meaningless category with the canard that she is responsible for her husband’s infidelities. Ah, but you say, if that’s a canard than Trump’s behavior is a canard. Potentially, you’re right. Nothing has been proven yet in court. He is only accused, and not proven guilty. He’s as pure as Bill Cosby. Yet words do demonstrate attitude, and he is on record for what he has said, and has not (a) apologized for the words, and (b) changed the behavior. Contrast this with Bill Clinton — there has been no evidence that his behavior has been repeated since the incidents in the 1990s.

Election Reminders and Information

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Oct 19, 2016 @ 3:41 am PST

userpic=voteFirst and foremost, the most important election reminder: Get out and Vote. This election is critical — not only at the top of the race, but in the down-ticket races, and the measures and propositions in your area. You allow someone else to control your life if you don’t vote. Soldiers and many others have given their lives so that you can exercise the privilege. If you haven’t registered yet or are unsure, and you’re in LA County, visit the County Registration Page. Elsewhere in California? Visit here. Some other state? Visit here.

Are you a Trump supporter? I urge you to reconsider: the man has not the experience or the demeanor. But, you say, Hillary is a crook — just look at all the email issues and Benghazi. Those are just a canard, and reflect misunderstanding about how email work in that part of government. Consider this: If you are considering Trump innocent of all the accusations of sexual improprieties because nothing has been proven in court and there is no conviction, you must apply the same rule to Clinton: she has never been convicted in a court of law, and is thus innocent until proven guilty. If Clinton is guilty, then Trump is a sexual predator, antisemite, and racist. You can’t have it both ways.  Oh, and if you think what Trump did is no worse than Clinton did, think again.

But, you say, abortion. Try again.

But, you say, you don’t understand the concerns of the Trump voters. Actually, I do.

But, you say, I read such and such on social media. Hint: It likely wasn’t true, wasn’t the whole story, or was sensationalized.

But, you say, … I say set aside all the character claims, and on experience, demeanor, understanding of government, and positions, she wins hands down.

But, you say, she shafted Bernie Sanders, and he should have been the candidate. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to see that.

Next, if you haven’t seen it, here are the links to my ballot analysis:

Dictators or Elected Leaders | “Evita” at Cabrillo Music Theatre

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Oct 16, 2016 @ 7:43 pm PST

Evita (Cabrillo Music Theatre)Cabrillo UserpicLast night, we went to go see Evita at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Going in, I was hoping to find some resonance with this year’s political campaign. After all, looking at it one way, we had the story of a popular entertainer who grew into a potent political power, a person who ran a foundation that appeared to do good but was primarily for their family’s personal benefit, a person whose rise to power was based more on style than substance. When examined the other way, we had the story of an ambitious woman whose rise to power was based more on her husband’s reputation than her own; a woman whose husband had a record of sleeping with whores; a woman who ambitiously craved power in a country where women had never ruled; a woman whose political opponents were made to shut up, and often conveniently disappeared.

I was hoping to find resonance, a lesson to be learned, something useful I could bring to my discussions on Facebook.

I found nothing. But it was still a fun story.

I’ve seen Evita numerous times before. I had seen the original when it was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City back when both existed back in 1980. I next saw Evita in a high-school performance at Van Nuys HS back in 2011. The next version was community theatre: the  Maui Academy of the Performing Arts (MAPA) (FB) production at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) (FB) last August. Last night, Cabrillo’s version.

As I wrote back in August: For those not familiar with Evita, it is the second rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death. It is a sung-through opera, with very little non-musical spoken dialogue. You can find a detailed synopsis of the story on the wikipedia page or on the Rice/Webber page for the show.

When one has seen a show this many times, one tends not to focus on the book but the performances. In this production, there were strengths and weaknesses. In terms of overall direction, Roger Castellano (FB) used his ensemble and set well, taking advantage of the simple set and the power of the masses. I appreciated some of his touches, such as the casket for Eva and the “Santa Evita” number. The power of the people came into play in many numbers, particularly in “A New Argentina”. My only directoral quibble (which could be more choreographical, and thus Cheryl Baxter (FB)’s department) was the behavior and movement of the Argentinian Generals in the various scenes (e.g., “The Art of the Possible”, and similar scenes). They need to be crisp, strong, precise, and exude authority and power. These guys ambled in, and had all the precision of a volunteer army. Tighten it up, men.

Evita is one of those shows that lives and dies based on the strength of its leads. Alas, I must report that this production was a mixed bag. Their Che, Marc Ginsberg (FB), was excellent. He had the vocal power, he had the stage presence, he had the appropriate cynical attitude, and he had the look down pat. One of the best Che’s I’ve ever seen. I could list his numbers as examples, but he was just great. This production is worth seeing for his performance.

Their Eva, Cassandra Murphy (FB), was… almost. She had the look perfect. Her vocals were spot on. Her dancing was great. All of which are critical for an Eva. But to excel, Eva needs something extra — a stage presence that grabs you by the neck and demands your attention. This was something that  Amy Hānaili’i Gilliom (FB), the Eva we saw in Hawaii, had. It is something that many of the Broadway Eva’s had. I think it may come from years of being on the stage and knowing how to be the presence that makes that spotlight come to you on its own. Murphy’s Eva had about 85% of that luminescence, but it needs just a bit more to achieve the stellar highs.

The weak spot in this production (at least to me), was David Kirk Grant (FB)’s Juan Peron. Peron needs to be a presence, not a milquetoast. Grant’s Peron had the right voice, but he did not exude power. Peron has to have the sense of a former military man who grabbed the reins of power, not by always the best of means. He has the soft spot for Eva — she is perhaps his one weakness — but otherwise there needs to be that toughness. That just didn’t come across.

In the second tier, we have two named characters who primarily appear only in the first half of the first act. Both were very strong. Bill Ledesma (FB)’s had the sexy look and the requisite sexy voice for the tango singer, Agustin Magaldi. His portrayal of Magaldi against Murphy’s Eva was very strong. Also very strong was Isa Briones (FB)’s mistress.  She has one scene and one song, and she just nails it beautifully. I hope to see more of Briones in future productions in Southern California.

Everyone else in Evita is ensemble. The upper crust. The generals. The des camisados. The union workers. The maids and butlers and hangers-ons. All ensemble. As such, it is hard to single anyone out. However… the little girl that opened up “Santa Evita” just melted my heart. Lovely performance. I’m also pleased to note that the ensemble featured all colors, shapes, and sizes, which I thought was particularly good. The ensemble consisted of Elizabeth Adabale (FB), Isa Briones (FB), Liz Bustle (FB), Fernando Christopher (FB), Eduardo Giancarlo (FB), Augusto Guardado/FB, Veronica Gutierrez/FB, Timothy Joshua Hearl (FB), Jackson Hinden (FB), Katie Hume (FB), Brandon Taylor Jones/FB, Bill Ledesma (FB), Lyrissa Leininger (FB), Janelle Lillian (FB), Sarah Marie Maher (FB), Drew Mizell (FB), Alastair James Murden (FB), Tracy Ray Reynolds (FB), Joshua Rivera (FB), Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal (FB), Katherine Steele (FB), and Kendyl Yokoyama (FB). The children’s ensemble consisted of Luca de la Peña/FB, Savannah Fischer/FB, Calista Loter/FB, Madison North/FB, Brooke Rassell/FB, Emma Safier/FB, Marcello Silva/FB, and Lilly Victoria Thompson/FB.

Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal (FB) was the understudy for Eva Peron.

As an aside, the diverse casting of the ensemble made me question the leads a little: after all, this is Argentina. Wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, the leads be Hispanic. But then again, Eva is always portrayed in the archival newsreels as lily white, so perhaps this was seen as a virtue in the England-worshipping society of Argentina in the 1930s. Still, I think it is an interesting question to explore.

The music for the production was provided by the Cabrillo Music Theatre Orchestra, Dr. Cassie Nickols (FB), Musical Director; Dan Redfield/FB, Conductor; Darryl Tanikawa (FB), Orchestra Contractor; and Darryl Archibald (FB), Music Supervisor.  The orchestra consisted of: Gary Rautenberg (FB)[Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute]; Darryl Tanikawa (FB) [Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax]; Bill Barrett [Trumpet I]; Chris Maurer [Trumpet II]; June Satton (FB) [Trombone]; Melissa Hendrickson (FB) [Horn]; Sharon Cooper [Violin I, Concertmaster]; Sally Berman [Violin II]; Karen Goulding Long [Viola]; Rachel Coosaia (FB) [Cello]; Benjamin Ginsberg/FB [Keyboard Synthesizer I]; Ryan Whyman [Keyboard II]; Tom Griffin [Keyboard III]; Pathik Desai (FB) [Electric and Acoustic Guitars]; Shane Harry/FB [Electric and Double String Bass]; Alan Peck [Set Drums]; and Tyler Smith/FB [Percussion]. The orchestra was produced by Tanikawa Artists Management LLC.

Turning to the production and creative side of things. Th sets were provided by The Music and Theatre Company (FB), with additional scenic design by Alex Choate (FB). Costumes were provided by The Theatre Company (FB); Beth Glasner (FB) was the costume designer. Both the sets and the costumes worked well; I particularly liked the integration of actual archival footage into the projections.  The lighting design by Kim Killingsworth (FB) worked well, particularly the integration of two spots on the scaffolding on the sides of the stage. Jonathan Burke (FB)’s sound design, as always, was clear and crisp. Jim Belcher did the hair and makeup design, and it worked reasonably well — particularly the wigs for Eva Peron. Rounding out the credits were: Jack Allaway, Technical Director; Jessica R. Aguilar, Production Stage Manager; Richard Storrs (FB), Marketing Director; David Elzer/Demand PR, Press Representative; and Will North (FB), Managing Director.

Note that last credit. This was Will North (FB)’s first time helming a production, taking over from long time artistic director Lewis Wilkenfeld (FB). Whereas Lewis would go on and on (and on and on) about what Cabrillo was doing in the community, introducing groups in the audience, and so forth, Will was much more succinct. No mention of all the good, just a quick mention of the raffle and moving forward. Lewis created a personality for Cabrillo; hopefully, over time, we will be able to see Will’s personality emerge as he loosens up and endears himself to the audience.

Evita continues at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) for one more weekend. Tickets are available through the Cabrillo online box office; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar. This is a reasonably good production of the show; well worth seeing if you haven’t seen it before.

* * *

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), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB).  The Chromolume 2017 season looks particularly good: Zanna Don’t (Tim Acito, January 13 – February 5), Hello Again (Michael John LaChiusa, May 5- May 28), and Pacific Overtures (Stephen Sondheim, September 15 – October 8) — all for only $60). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 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:  Next weekend brings Turn of the Screw at Actors Co-op (FB) and the new Tumbleweed Festival (FB). The last weekend of October brings Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom (a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood).

Allan Sherman Tribute Show at TASInterrupting this recap for a word from a sponsor: Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom is open to the community, and is a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood. Please tell your friends about it. I’m Past President of MoTAS, and I really want this to be a success. Click on the flyer to the right for more information. It should be a really funny night.

November starts with another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB): Culture Clash’s Vote or Die Laughing. The following weekend brings Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Nottingham Festival (FB). We then lose a weekend as we travel to Palo Alto for a Bar Mitzvah. The third weekend of November brings Funny Girl, a Conundrum Theatre Company (FB) guest production at  The Colony Theatre (FB) and a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]. November concludes with a HOLD date for Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. The last month of the year will include Into the Woods at Nobel Middle School, the CSUN Jazz Band at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), Amalie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), The King and I at the Hollywood Pantages (FB); an unspecified movie on Christmas day; and a return to our New Years Eve Gaming Party.

Turning to 2017, January currently is quiet, with just a single hold date for Zanna Don’t at the Chromolume Theatre (FB). February 2017 gets back to being busy: with a hold for Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum (FB) the first weekend. The second weekend brings 33 Variations at Actors Co-op (FB). The third weekend has a hold for the WGI Winter Regionals. The last weekend in February brings Finding Neverland at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). March quiets down a bit — at least as currently scheduled — with Fun Home at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) at the beginning of the month, and An American in Paris at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) at the end of the month.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, Musicals in LA, @ This Stage, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Although we can’t make it, I also recommend the 10th Anniversary Production of The Brain from Planet X at LACC. Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.