Observations Along the Road

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

We’re Alone in the Woods. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed May 07, 2014 @ 11:47 am PDT

Evil Dead The Musical (V Theatre)userpic=las-vegasLast night, we saw our third show in Vegas: “Evil Dead: The Musical” (FB). This is a musical I’ve been wanting to see for a while — I’ve had the CD on my iPod since 2009, and I’ve gotten a hoot out of the 2006 original off-Broadway cast. Sirc Michael’s production (FB) of the show at the V/Saxe Theatre Complex (FB) in the Desert Passage Mall Miracle Mile Mall has been running a while (I think they said it is the longest running production of the show), and our visit was an opportunity to finally put the show with the music. I’m glad I did, and modulo a few problematic areas, the show is a hoot and well worth seeing. Be careful, however, if you are in the first few rows.

As you may have surmised, “Evil Dead: The Musical” is a parody of all the slasher horror films, and particularly the Evil Dead franchise. Reading through the summary of the films (which I actually have never seen), it is about 80% of the original Evil Dead movie, 80% of the sequel Evil Dead II,  and perhaps 10% of Army of Darkness. The story concerns five college students: Ash, an S-Mart Housewares Employee; Linda, his girlfriend; Cheryl, Ash’s younger sister; Scotty, Ash’s best bud and friend; and Shelly, a girl Scotty picked up at a nearby bar three days ago. They are going off to break into an abandoned cabin in the woods for a weekend of debauchery. When they arrive at the cabin, they start to hear odd voices, and while investigating, discover a copy of the Sumarian Necronomicon (Book of the Dead), a number of weapons (axe, historical knife, gun), and a recording in the cellar. Playing the recording unleases the demons… and one by one each gets possessed and killed in various bloody and punny ways. That’s the basic story that come in from the original movie. The sequel comes in through the introduction of Annie (daughter of the cabin’s owner); Ed, her boyfriend; and Jake, their guide to the cabin. They eventually make their way there and discover Ash and all the dead bodies. Not surprisingly, they start to get possessed as well, and things get even bloodier. Eventually, Ash (who cut off his hand when it turned evil) mounts a chainsaw on his hand (hence, the picture) and starts killing every demon in sight. But demons never stay dead, do they?

Before I go into the production itself, a few words about the theatre itself. As you know if you know me, we go to theatre very regularly. When a show is called for a particular time, we’re used to being able to go into the theatre about ½ hour before the show. We’re used to getting a program that lists the actors and provides their credits. There was none of that here. We were told to arrive at 9pm to start lining up for a 10pm show. We arrived about 8:50pm, and were directed upstairs to the bar area (others arriving later were evidently lined up and had souvenir pictures taken — we’re glad we missed the pictures, but the V Theatre needs a consistent process). Eventually, the groups combined upstairs… and waited. The previous show, Zombie Burlesque, was running late. When you added in their picture process, we didn’t enter the theatre until around 10:15 pm, and the show didn’t start until around 10:30 pm. There was no communication of this delay to the audience. We entered the theatre — with no program being handed out (luckily, I learned from talking to a staff member that credits were available online). These are all correctable problems — and they should be addressed to provide a good audience experience.

Back to the show itself. This show is a cheesy and fun parody. If that’s the type of show you enjoy, you’ll get a kick out of this. There is loads of profanity, but words only — this is not risque in what you see (at least in terms of sex). The violence and gore is very cartoonish. As for the parody itself … I happen to enjoy parody musicals. I’ve seen quite a few, from Brain from Planet X, to Silence: The Musical, to Triassic Parc: The Musical, to … This is pretty good on the parody scale: it amps up the silliness of the original concept, grabs and exaggerates the recognizable parts of the original movies, and most importantly … it knows what it is. The cast has fun with this, playing with the puns and the humor. It is clear they enjoy their work, and get a kick about giving the audience a good show and a good time. This probably is why this show gets such reviews — it isn’t perfect, but it is fun. If you want polish, go see Elton John or Rock of Ages. One other thing that I appreciated is that, at least based on the cast album, this production included the entire show (including the intermission). This is rare for a Las Vegas Strip production — most of the shows do slightly cut-down versions for audiences that can’t sit for longer than 90 minutes with no intermission.

This show advertises itself as “4D”. That’s not a count of the deaths :-). Rather, it refers to the fact that if you are in the first few rows, you will get wet. They give T-Shirts to the official “splash zone”, but with the amount of liquid they drench you in, don’t wear something you care about. The actors seem to enjoy drenching the audience in the front. Note that there may be a little overspray, so be prepared.

The performances themselves were quite good. In the lead position was Ben Stobber (FB). Stobber has won awards for this performance, and it is easy to see why. I’ve written before about how I enjoy it when actors take a role, inhabit it, and have fun with it — and Stobber is clearly doing that with this role. Although he had one or two minor off notes, they get lost in the overall effectiveness of his performance. I also found it interesting to watch the height differential between Stobber and the rest of the cast: he seems to tower at least a foot over most of them. It creates this interesting image of this clean-cut good guy, towering over evil, chainsaw in hand, as he prepares to kick ass.

Another notable performance was given by Lorie Palkow (FB) as Cheryl, Ash’s younger sister. Palkow originally caught my eye because I tend to be drawn to nerdy girls. Looking a little bit like Sarah Gilbert, she gave a performance full of enthusiasm and fun. She had a strong singing voice and handled the change in personality quite well. As with Stobber, you could just tell she was having fun with this role.

Rounding out the members of the cast drawn from the first Evil Dead movie were Jennifer Daquila (FB) (Shelly), Kolton Rostron (FB) (Scotty), and Lynnae Meyers (FB) (Linda) [it is unclear who played the possessed Candarian Demon moose]. Daquila (in her Shelly incarnation) captured the dumb blonde caricature well and with enthusiasm. Rostron also captured his caricature  of the dumb bro well, especially in his overuse of the “Stupid Bitch” line. Rostrom was particularly notable for his glee in drenching the first few rows of the audience with the blood from his intestines. Lastly, Meyers’ Linda was a beauty who drew your eyes when she was onstage, at least before she became demonic. All were good singers an performers. Lastly, Beau Rigbye/FB was an obvious Fake Shemp in his role as the dead headless Linda (the belly gave him away). [By the way, what is it with actors and concierges? Both Stobber and Meyers work as concierges at Aria; my friend Shae, who is also into performing, also works as a concierge.]

Turning to the cast members drawn from Evil Dead II:   Jennifer Daquila (FB) reappeared as Annie, discarding her dumb blonde for a more overbearing sort. Christopher Lyons/FB was her boyfriend and bit-part player Ed, and Greg Korin (FB) was good ol’ Jake. All played their roles well, and Korin in particular (if memory serves correct) enjoyed drenching the audience.

Lastly, rounding out the cast as performers according to the website, but with unspecified roles, were: Shawnnie Slaughter (FB), Big Sexy, Chris Weidman, Tori Imlach/FB, Kirsten Heibert, Evelyn Benitez, Jeremiah Riesenbeck, and John Tomasello (FB). Slaughter was fun to watch as some sort of zombie who was entertaining those waiting in the bar with some interesting improv, as well as seating guests in the theatre. As for the others, I guess that they are understudies, swings, and other unnamed people (such as the MC).

Turning to the technical side of things…. big sigh. Lets start with what worked: the sets (designed by Tim Burris) were simple, but they worked. This show apparently moves between theatres in the V/Saxe complex, which demands simple movable sets. What they had was sufficient for the job. Similarly, the costumes by Stephen C. Halford were effective and titillated just a little (although there were some continuity problems with Linda’s blouse); his  special effects were a little more cheesy (but that’s an artifact of the time they have to change in and out of them). No credit is provided for the lighting, but it worked reasonably well. The blood effects by LeeAnn Wagner were plentiful and smelled of cherry; I was glad I was not sitting in the front row.

So, you’re wondering, why the big sigh? The answer is the sound design of Thomas Chrastka. I understand the demands of having to shift theatres, and of coming in after a different show with different actors and different demands. Still, the actors were over-amplified, making it difficult to hear the clever dialogue and puns… and even worse, during the musical numbers, there was too much reverb which muddied the actor’s signing. The sound system needs some retuning to return it to the crispness required.

Rounding out the credits: the production was directed by Sirc Michaels (FB) — as I’ve noted before, I can never separate direction from the acting. Choreography was by Jennie Carroll, and it worked well — particularly during the necronomicon dance. Fight choreography was by JP Dostal, and could have been a little stronger during the shooting sequences. You can see the remainder of the credits (including technicians, publicity, and the like) at the Evil Dead website.

Evil Dead: The Musical” (FB) continues at the V/Saxe Theatre Complex (FB) well, umm, until it no longer brings in enough money to cover the rent. Tickets are available through the V/Saxe Theatre Complex Box Office, and through numerous discount outlets throughout the city. I found it worth the money, especially if you are looking for a fun time and enjoy parodies. Note that the show runs very late, and watch out for the splash zone.

A final comment on the location of the show. The V/Saxe Theatre is in the former Desert Passage Mall, which wraps around the former Aladdin hotel. We were there for the ACSAC conference in 2003, and a number of the stores are still in the mall from that time (particularly Cheeseburger Mary’s and the Italian restaurant across from the theatre). Much as Planet Hollywood has tried to “Miracle Mile” the mall, the interior still screams Desert Passage, and the southern exterior is almost unchanged from the faux Arabian desert. I kept trying to remember what was in the V Theatre space back in 2003, but I drew a blank. I think, if PH wants to successfully transition away from the Aladdin legacy, they need to do something about retheming the mall whilst staying open and keeping vendors. A difficult problem. I did read that they are about to retheme the southern exterior.

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

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  We have no more shows planned for while we are in Vegas, but it’s busy when we return: Saturday is a twofer day: Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School followed by “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB). The next weekend brings both “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB). The next two weekends are currently unscheduled: Karen is helping Erin move, and there’s not that much calling to me from Goldstar. June is busy. It starts with a CDF Conference for Karen while I see The Fantastiks at Good People Theatre (FB). We lose the following weekend to a Bat Mitzvah. The remainder of the month brings “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall of Buster Keaton” at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on June 22, and “I’m Not Just a Comic Genius” at Secret Rose (FB) on June 27. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. August then remains quiet as we work around vacations and such, but things start to get busy again in September and October. More on that later. 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.

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Feeling Blue

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue May 06, 2014 @ 6:12 am PDT

Blue Man Group (Monte Carlo)userpic=las-vegasBefore we went on this trip to Las Vegas, I asked my wife what show she wanted to see. Her response, “Blue Man Group“. This started a quest for decent discount tickets for the show. Online, I found some discounts at TravelVegas, but these seemed to lead straight to the hotel’s Ticketmaster site — meaning that on top of the ticket price, there would be the city taxes, venue fees, and Ticketmaster fees. No thank you. Instead, we ended up using the service we’ve used for all the shows we’ve seen this week: Tix4Tonight. I went down to the booth in front of the Aladdin Planet Hollywood yesterday, and got two mezzanine tickets for BMG for around $67, including fees. [I should note that we're doing pretty good: Using Tix4Tonight, we've gotten tickets to three shows for around $260, meaning each show is roughly $40 on average]. Last night, we walked over to the Monte Carlo and saw the show. For $67, we ended up in the second row in the mezzanine in the center — perfect seats.

The show itself? In a word, spectacular.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe Blue Man Group. I started with the phrase “childlike wonder”, but shortly realized that the Blue Men are simply a fancy form of clowns. They like to explore silliness, make people laugh, and just play with things. They submerge their individual identities to personas to focus people on the laughter. This is the essence of clowning.

As for the show itself, it is hard to describe. Looking back, a number of things stick in my mind. First was the giant floating things that circulated through the audience before the show. There was the percussion and the lights, and the playfulness of creating instruments out of anything and everything. There was the audience interaction (I wonder if that woman in the first row ever got her credit card back). There were the robots. There was the playing with the food and the Twinkies. There was the GiPhone and the heavy use of lights. There was the penultimate ending, with balls floating everywhere through the audience and paper going all around. There was the actual ending, with the drums of color. In short… spectacular.

One problem with Las Vegas shows is that they never provide a standard program or credit. That’s too bad. For what makes BMG successful is not only the three blue men (who are always never named), but all the musicians and technicians and staff behind them. That was certainly true last night: the musical team behind BMG was just great, and the technical work that goes into the show — from sound to lights to timing to projections to programming to playfulness — was remarkable. They deserve to be credited, and I acknowledge their efforts.

Dining Notes: Before BMG, we ate a totally non-special dinner: Rubios in the Food Court. But before that was something spectacular: one of the few non-Starbucks coffee venues we’ve seen in a hotel: Sambalatte. Now I’m not a coffee drink, but my wife tells me that the coffee she had there was one of the best cups she’s ever had. Sambalatte has three locations. [I’ll note they were less spectacular for tea — they were using bags — but there are no spectacular tea shoppes in Vegas: there’s Teavana (which is Starbucks now), but they have limited non-flavored black tea options); there’s Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, which is always good but is more coffee focused; and there’s … umm … Starbucks :-( ).

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Tonight is our last Vegas show: “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the V Theatre in the Desert Passage Mall Miracle Mile Shops. Once we return, we’ve got a twofer day: “Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School followed by “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB). The next weekend brings both “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB). The next two weekends are currently unscheduled: Karen is helping Erin move, and there’s not that much calling to me from Goldstar. June is busy. It starts with a CDF Conference for Karen while I see The Fantastiks at Good People Theatre (FB). We lose the following weekend to a Bat Mitzvah. The remainder of the month brings “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall of Buster Keaton” at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on June 22, and “I’m Not Just a Comic Genius” at Secret Rose (FB) on June 27. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. August then remains quiet as we work around vacations and such, but things start to get busy again in September and October. More on that later. 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.

Hair at Harrahs

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon May 05, 2014 @ 7:49 am PDT

Jason Alexander (Harrahs)userpic=las-vegasYou may have noticed that it’s been quiet from this end of late — I’ve had some high priority projects at work sucking my time, plus we’ve been getting ready for a little vacation. On the vacation now we are (did you appreciate that little call-out to Star Wars in honor of 5/4) (even though I’m still working in the mornings :-( ), so I thought I would bring you up to date with my thoughts… plus I think I’m incapable of seeing live entertainment and not writing about it.

Every time I come to Vegas I realize how this town has changed from when I was here as a kid in the 1970s. Gone are the headline entertainers and the “dinner show” showrooms; gone are most of the production shows. Gone, in fact, is everything serving the great god of gaming — everything is its own profit center now. Still, when you’re in Vegas, you see shows (and there are a few I want to see, if the price is right).

One of the shows we discovered was in town was the end of Jason Alexander’s stint at Harrah’s. Now, I’ve never watched Seinfeld (I’ll repeat that, because you probably don’t believe it — I’ve never watched Seinfeld). However, I am a fan of Mr. Alexander from his work on the stage — he was in a number of Broadway shows, and we saw him give a great performance in The Producers in Los Angeles. We’re also aware of him from his movies — our daughter was a big fan of Dunston Checks In. Given that his show wasn’t that pricy, we went last night.

I’m glad we did. It was a very funny show. Jason combined music, musical parody, and great comedy observations to create a hilarious two-hour show. He riffed on a variety of subjects — Seinfeld (of course), hair, relationships, and sitcoms are a few I remember. We just enjoyed the show immensely. If you get a chance to see Jason Alexander, it is worth it.

Dining Notes: Before the show, we ate at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at the Flamingo. We chose them because they were one of the few restaurants in walking distance with a gluten-free menu. Very good food, and fun entertainment.

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  While in Vegas, we’re also hoping to see Blue Man Group at the Monte Carlo, as well as Evil Dead: The Musical“. Once we return, we’ve got a twofer day: “Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School followed by “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB). The next weekend brings both “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB). The next two weekends are currently unscheduled: Karen is helping Erin move, and there’s not that much calling to me from Goldstar. June is busy. It starts with a CDF Conference for Karen while I see “The Fantastiks” at Good People Theatre. We lose the following weekend to a Bat Mitzvah. The remainder of the month brings “Stoneface” at the Pasadena Playhouse on June 22, and “I’m Not Just a Comic Genius” at Secret Rose on June 27. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. August then remains quiet as we work around vacations and such, but things start to get busy again in September and October. More on that later. 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.

California Highway Headlines for April 2014

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu May 01, 2014 @ 8:48 pm PDT

userpic=roadgeekingWhile everyone else was doing their taxes, I’ve been collecting highway headlines…

  • Highway 12 project nears milestone. Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon has two different looks as the state continues its drive to turn a two-lane, narrow road into a four-lane, modern highway. The 3-mile Solano County portion from Interstate 80 to the Solano/Napa border remains a two-lane construction zone. Crews are still working on a retaining wall on the lower part of a hill that they’ve carved out to make room for a wider roadway.
  • Zanker connector, Coleman widening planned but not funded. Q With the new major development announced for First Street and Brokaw Road in San Jose, do you know if the developer will be asked to pay for the “often thought of but never financed Zanker Road to North Fourth Street connection” to alleviate the traffic congestion the development will create?
  • Old Bay Bridge eastern span cut in half in demolition milestone. Crews dismantling the old east span of the Bay Bridge have cut it in half by slicing through metal sections of the cantilever section east of Yerba Buena Island.
  • O.C. tollway cancels studies for controversial extension . Orange County’s largest tollway operation announced Tuesday that it has canceled environmental studies for a controversial extension project that was widely criticized and ultimately rejected by the California Coastal Commission in 2008. The Transportation Corridor Agencies rescinded two notices to proceed with federal environmental impact statements for the Foothill South extension, which would have connected the 241 tollway with the 5 Freeway south of San Clemente.
  • Solution sought to Highway 101 widening. With stretches of the Highway 101 expansion project still underfunded, one Petaluma city official is hoping new revenue generated from an anticipated county sales tax measure could lead to the completion of highway widening from Petaluma to the county line.
  • Metro to publicly finance HOV toll lane project for Santa Clarita Valley. Metro and Caltrans have decided to publicly finance the project instead of seeking a public-private partnership (known as a PPP). Why? It’s less expensive to publicly finance the project by using $352 million in now-available Measure R and other funds and a federal low-interest loan for $175 million.
  • Resolution introduced to name freeway stretch for late Sen. Jenny Oropeza. The section of the 710 freeway in Long Beach would be designated as the Senator Jenny Oropeza Memorial Freeway under a resolution introduced Monday by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens).
  • Commuter Collection Jewelry. Westways Magazine had an interesting article on this artist, who make necklaces, tie tacks, and rinks in the shape of California highway signs.
  • The Train Tunnel in This 1898 Film Is Now Part of Pacific Coast Highway. Santa Monica’s McClure Tunnel—is there a more dramatic 400 feet of roadway in all the Southland? First, the daylight fades as you leave behind the Santa Monica Freeway and plunge through the tunnel’s eastern portal. The road curves through the darkness, and then a new world flashes before you. As your eyes readjust, it all comes into focus: the rolling surf of the Pacific, a white sand beach, the hills of Malibu. You are now driving the Pacific Coast Highway.

Is It Worth It?

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Apr 30, 2014 @ 9:15 pm PDT

userpic=theatre_ticketsI’ve been doing some theatre planning for the upcoming months/trips. There are some shows I’m interested in seeing, but I can’t decide the best approach to take, given the cost. Here’s what I’m exploring: opinions are welcome.

  • Stoneface at the Pasadena Playhouse. Tickets are $34 to $39 on Goldstar, but have a service charge of $7.50 each. I’m not sure if the Pasadena Playhouse is worth $42-$45 per ticket (I don’t pay that much for tours at the Pantages). Still, it is French Stewart as Buster Keaton…
  • Evil Dead – The Musical at V Theatre, Las Vegas. Tickets are $29.95 for Saturday at 11:30pm, or $32.95 for Tuesday at 10:00pm, which is reasonable. However, they want to add service charges of $6-$8 per ticket. I’m not sure I want to pay that much for what is a parody show (even if it is funny). I’m wondering if I can get the tickets at one of the discount booths on the strip for a lower service charge.
  • Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo. Here I’ve found a deal for $59 a ticket… which is a good price. But they take you to the Monte Carlo box office (good), which uses Ticketmaster (bad)… meaning there are likely surcharges on the order of $10 per ticket. Again, I’m normally not in that ticket price range. Is it worth it?

 

Repent, and Ye Shall Be Saved

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:41 am PDT

userpic=soapboxWhile eating my lunch today, I was reading the LA Times, and saw an article about how Donald Trump had purchased another golf course. This got me thinking about Donald Trump pulling a Donald Sterling, and how Sterling was banned for life from the NBA. This, in turn, got me thinking about our punative culture. For as much lip service as we give to religion, our attitude in the US seems to be: make a mistake once, and you’re branded for life.

Consider: Sterling clearly made racist remarks — wrong, misguided, and every kind of stupid. But the actions that were taken in response provide no ability to Sterling to ever recover — even if he was to sincerely learn from his mistake and change his ways, there’s no undoing the ban. Similarly, for those that commit any level of sex crimes — even if they were very young — there is no opportunity with the way our society brands and ostracizes such offenders that they could ever change their ways and be trusted. I’m sure you can find numerous additional examples: politicians are still held accountable for stupid statements and behaviors in their youth. We put many people in jail, and then brand them as “once-in-jail” for life. You can’t escape the permanent record.

All this from a society that is actually one of the most religious ones around. I know that both Judaism and Christianity  teach — in fact, they emphasize — the ability to sincerely repent from one’s wicked ways. They teach that one can move from leading a life of sin, and be reborn on a good and spiritual path. I believe the teachings are that if one is on that path sincerely, the past is the past. Yet for all the religious talk, we’re not doing that.

Was society always this way? I think not. Look at George Wallace. Once he was an ardant racist and segregationist. Later in his life, he recanted those early beliefs, and changed his ways (and was viewed differently).

I want to be clear that I’m not defending the behavior of Sterling or sex offenders. Rather, I’m raising the question of repentance: can one truly repent in front of society (and, if one believes, in front of God), what is the motivation for repentance if society refuses to accept it, and whether we can be as religion-centered as we claim if we eschew the notion of repentance in practice?

Change Is In Ye Olde Air

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 27, 2014 @ 6:58 am PDT

userpic=faireAs you may know if you read the last paragraph of my theatre/concert write-ups, we went to the Southern California Renaissance Faire yesterday. I’d like to share some observations of the day.

They drastically changed the layout this year — ostensibly, from what I hear, due to an ADA lawsuit requiring the concrete pathways in the park to remain accessible. This resulted in all the clothing and artisan vendors being mostly congregated in two alleys in the front part of the Faire, with food seemingly much further back, games spreadout, and the stages seemingly much more hidden. I found the new layout a bit harder to navigate (partially because (as usual) they didn’t ensure that each patron got a map as they walked in), but it was nicer to have a lot of the clothes and other goodies up towards the front.

Some vendors seemed to like the layout; others thought it lead to less foot traffic and slower business. I know that some of the vendors appeared to have a much smaller crowd than I’ve seen in years past (the big Hearts Delight booth being a good example of this — they lost their usual corner spot). As we shopped, I asked vendors what they thought — some liked the layout, others thought it brought them less business.

Supposedly, the new layout gave the Faire an extra 6 acres to work with. It also made the ADA restrooms in the park available to all (and all the drinking fountains — huzzah for free water). However, what the Parks Department giveth, they also take away… the new vendor’s row evidently has to pack up quicker than the rest of the Faire because that part of the park must be open to the public by Memorial Day weekend (the Faire itself ends mid-May).

The Faire owners seemed to take advantage of the new space to bring in a lot more vendors. I saw a lot more leather vendors, a few more pottery, a few more clothing vendors, and some new jewelry vendors. However, the additional vendors really reflected the change in the Faire. There was a book vendor that was selling childrens books about pirates… and DVDs of pirate movies. There was a fair amount of steampunk accessories and clothes. I started going to the Faire in the days of Paramount Ranch and Agoura — you used to never see as much non-period stuff. This was also seen in the games — there was one where people were going into large plastic balls and rolling around. I fail to see how this fits the period.

The Faire ownership has also instituted theme weekends — and this weekend was “time traveler” weekend. There was steampunk (of course), people in Star Trek costumes, and all sorts of mish-mashes. In talking with some of the guilds up front, this was a reflection of the transformation of this Faire (the original) from real Renaissance to a more general Fantasy Faire. Although I understand why this has happened — it needed to be done to draw in the audience to support the Faire’s growth — I miss what was once there. Perhaps the fledgling Nottingham Festival  in Simi Valley will keep the original dream alive. We really need to support that effort.

With the time traveling theme, it was impossible to pick a worst outfit. Perhaps I’ve gotten jaded, but I now ignore all the fairy wings and lusty pirates running around. If there was a winner this year, it was the group of college age men, in jean shorts and T-shirts, with torn sheets over their shoulders in the manner of a toga party. RenFaire is not a Toga Party.

We really only sat through one show — Broon’s show on the Fool stage. It was very good, but he kept having to explain that Moonie was off doing a play in Chicago.

Parking was better organized this year — at least we didn’t run into the same traffic as in previous years. The porta-potties, however, seemed fewer in number and more poorly maintained. There were also more obvious smoking areas, and the food seemed further back (but there were many more tables).

I’m  sure we’ll be back next year (and of course, we’ll be at Notthingham). A P.S. for those reading this far: Erin has indicated that, after two years in Berkeley, she’s hoping to go to Northern next year, as she’ll have a car. Northern Faire Folk reading this should drop me a note if they want to get in touch with her regarding Northern.

Such a Simple Song

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 26, 2014 @ 6:49 am PDT

Noel Paul Stookeyuserpic=folk-artistsAs I just wrote, this has been a crazy week, and next week doesn’t look much better. Luckily, I had a great stress relief valve last night: a concert at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Last night’s artist was Noel Paul Stookey, who is perhaps best known as the “Paul” in “Peter, Paul and Mary”.

Although I’ve been a fan of PP&M since I was in my teen, I’ve tended to favor Peter Yarrow over the other performers. But the last time I saw Peter solo (at AJU), his performance was rambling and wandering. I also discovered that Noel Paul was giving concerts at McCabes. We went last year, and we just loved the show, the music, the humor, and the man. So when Noel Paul showed on the schedule, I just went and ordered tickets.

Last night was a great show. Many of the songs were from Paul’s new album, “One and Many“, but there were a few old favorites (and lots of great stories). Here’s the playlist:

Act I Act II
Such a Simple Song
Music from the Heart
The Love of It All
Start a Revolution
One and Many
Cue the Moon
The Wedding Song
April Fool
Love Rules!
Virtual Party
Nukes are Nuts (new)
The Connection
Our Lives are Connected
Cabin Fever Waltz
Jean Claude
Una Famila de Corazon (new/instrumental)
American the Beautiful
This Land is Your Land/In These Times
If I Had a Hammer

In all, it was just a great show. Of course, I added an album to the iPod. Once of these days, I’ll get all my new music digested…

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Today brings the Southern California Renaissance Faire. May brings “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB), as well as “Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School. I may also be scheduling “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson. June is mostly open pending scheduling of an MRJ meeting, but I will try to fit in as much of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as I can. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. 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.