Observations Along the Road

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

Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Ahmanson Theatre 2015-2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Mar 09, 2015 @ 4:00 pm PDT

userpic=ahmansonThe Ahmanson Theatre has just announced its 2015-2016 season. As I did with the Pantages, Cabrillo, and the Colony, here are my thoughts on the season:

  • Thumbs Down The Sound of Music. September 20 through October 31, 2015. This is the start of a new American tour, but I have really no interest in seeing this again.
  • Thumbs Up The Bridges of Madison County. December 8, 2015, through January 17, 2016. This is a new musical by Jason Robert Brown, and guess what… he will be conducting the entire run!
  • Thumbs Up A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. March 22 through May 1, 2016. This musical won the Tony for best musical (last year, IIRC), and is a must see.
  • Thumbs Up Titanic: The Musical. May 14 through June 26, 2016. Note that this is not the musical version of the Leonard DiCapro movie that won awards; this is a musical from about the same time (1997) with book by Peter Stone and score by Maury Yeston.  I’ve heard the music, but never seen it.

There is an unnamed fifth production to run at an unspecified date.

I Support 99 Seat Theatre in Los AngelesP.S.: Please remember, if you’re an AEA actor eligible to vote in the upcoming advisory vote on the 99 seat plan, please vote no. The 99 seat plan needs to be changed, but not in the way AEA is proposing. AEA’s proposal is bad for small theatre, bad for actors who are not exclusively live theatre (hint: it will likely lower your unemployment benefits), bad for the local economy, and bad for the audience. Voting YES means you want AEA’s plan as it is proposed; there is no guarantee they will fix it. Voting NO indicates you do not want their specific proposal, you want AEA to sit down with all stakeholders and craft a plan good for all. Visit ilove99.org for more information. Provide financial support to this effort through I Love 99’s Indiegogo page.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season II: Cabrillo Music Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Colony and Pantages

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

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

** The Colony Theatre, Burbank **

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

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

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

** The Pantages Theatre, Hollywood **

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

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

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

** Other Upcoming Shows of Interest **

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

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

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

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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?

 

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Saturday (ummm) Gruel: Sex, Judaism, Surviving, and Carrie

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 26, 2014 @ 6:18 am PDT

Observation StewThis has been an even busier week than usual — I’ve barely had time to keep up with my RSS feeds and skim the LA Times. So I’ve only got a few items for you this week:

  • Not Tonight, Dear, I have a headache. In a scientific survey destined to end up on “Wait Wait”, scientists have shown that headaches impact a woman’s sexual desire much more than they impact the desire of men. Specifically, new research has shown that for female mice, bodily pain puts a serious damper on sexual desire, but pain-reduction can help restore libido squelched by physical discomfort. However, for men, the desire to have sex wasn’t dampened even if you kick them in the nuts. But is this really news?
  • It’s your shul on line 1… Here’s an article that every synagogue (and probably church) board member should read: What if your synagogue called and didn’t ask for money? The answer, not surprisingly, is that people are much more receptive. This goes to what a number of URJ leaders are saying these days: focus on building the relationship, and not getting the donations. When the relationship is strong, the donations will show up. Will temple boards listen, however, and pay this more than lip service?
  • Connections. Every week the Jewish Journal highlights a holocaust survivor (and I’ll note that this weekend is Yom Hashoah). This week, it was Frank Schiller. I’m not sure if I ever met Frank, but I did go to both camp and temple with Frank’s children, Gary and Vicky. Haven’t seen them in years, but I’d love to get back in touch.
  • La Mirada Season. Lastly, the La Mirada Theatre has announced their 2014-2015 season. It consists of “Good People“, “Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice“, “Billy Elliot” (the musical), a musical version of “Pride and Prejudice“, “Mary Poppins” (the musical), two special events (“Dancing with a Twist” and an Amy Grant concert), and the musical “Carrie“. Of these, “Carrie” is unique enough to get me to travel down to La Mirada. Already blocking it off on my calendar.

 

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season – Ahmanson 2014-2015

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 13, 2014 @ 7:29 pm PDT

userpic=ahmansonThe Ahmanson Theatre has announced their 2014-2015 season, and except for one bright spot and one maybe, it’s a big “meh”:

What is it with musicals this year. The Pantages is mostly “meh”, the Ahmanson is “meh”, and Cabrillo doesn’t have anything I’ve already seen. C’mon folks. Let’s see some exciting stuff that hasn’t been in LA in a while. Hell, I”d settle for a good production of “Hello Dolly” or “Sweet Charity”. That reminds me… I wonder what Doma is doing? [Answer: Nothing of interest, as least according to their webpage]

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season – Cabrillo 2014-2015

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jan 23, 2014 @ 7:41 pm PDT

Cabrillo UserpicWe’ve been subscribing at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) in Thousand Oaks since forever, if the value of forever is 2001. Our first show at Cabrillo was Anything Goes” in 2001, and since then they have been a reliable source of well-produced musicals, often ones not commonly done in the area, with great regional talent and the occasional name performer, at a reasonable price. You can see all their past seasons here. We now bring our senior mother-in-law with us, and she seems to enjoy the shows there as well.

We just got our renewal notice for the 2014-2015 season. Here are the shows in the season:

  • Memphis (November 14-23, 2014). We saw the first National tour of this when it was at the Pantages. We had reasonably good seats, so we could hear well, and the plot of the show wasn’t that spectacular. At least it wasn’t a jukebox show.
  • Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical. (April 17-26, 2015). We saw the first National tour of this when it was at the Ahmanson. Great production, but we were off on the side (which really didn’t hurt that much).
  • Oklahoma (July 17-26, 2015). We’ve seen this before — ages ago — when it was at the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. Not sure how much I want to see it again. It was last at Cabrillo in 1996.
  • [Bonus Production] Company (January 23-February 8, 2015). We just saw an intimate scale production of this at Crown City Theatre back in March 2013. Not sure anything can top that.

In short, this is a season where I’ve seen all the shows at some point, and most I’m lukewarm about seeing again. The season ticket prices, where we’re sitting, is $108 for 3 shows, or $138 for 3 shows plus the bonus. I’m truly undecided — that money could equally well go for more shows at a smaller company (such as The Group Rep (FB)), but we would get less musicals. I could explore a different musical company, such as Musical Theatre West, which has more interesting shows, but they do a lot of shows I’ve seen anyway, plus they are down in Long Beach (an even worse schlepp from the Valley than Thousand Oaks). Their staged reading series is more interesting, but that’s only a single night (making scheduling difficult)… plus it is still in Long Beach. Actors Rep of Simi or Canyon Theatre Guild are also possibilities, but they are much more at the regional/amateur theatre level.

P.S.: Wonderful quote in the review of “Discord”: “They quickly get on one another’s nerves: Imagine the dramaturgical love-child of “Steve Allen’s Meeting of Minds” and Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit.””

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season – Pantages 2014-2015

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jan 13, 2014 @ 7:52 pm PDT

userpic=broadwaylaThe Pantages (Broadway LA) has announced their 2014-2015 season, and so I thought I would share my thoughts on it:

  • Jersey Boys (October 1-19, 2014). I saw it at the Ahmanson. I have no strong desire to see it again. Why do they keep cycling through this stuff that has been through so recently. Pass.
  • Pippin (October 21-November 9, 2014). I’ve seen this twice – once at East West, and once (if I recall correctly) at Reprise. I’ve heard the music from this version, and I’m not happy how they changed things. Still, I’m curious how the circus theme has been worked in, so I want to see this. Will Ticket.
  • Kinky Boots (November 11-30, 2014). Heard the music. Liked it. This is one I want to see. Will Ticket.
  • Wicked (December 10, 2014-February 1, 2015). I’ve seen this, and I have no strong desire to see it again. Pass.
  • Disney’s Newsies The Musical (March 24-April 19, 2015). I like the music to this. Will Ticket.
  • Motown The Musical (April 28-June 7, 2015). A jukebox tuner, with good music. This is a maybe. May Ticket.
  • Phantom of the Opera (June 10-26, 2015). Saw this ages ago, and I have no desire to see it again. Ponderous in my book. Hell no.

As for what is left in the current season:

  • The Book of Mormon (January 21-May 11, 2014). Saw it. No strong desire to see it again. Pass.
  • American Idiot (May 13-May 18, 2014). Saw it at the Ahmanson. No strong desire to see it again. Pass.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (June 2-22, 2014). It was the first show I ever saw at the Pantages in the 1980s, and I’ve seen it a few times since. Pass.
  • Ghost The Musical (June 27-July 13, 2014). Heard the music. Sound interesting. Will Ticket.
  • Once The Musical (July 15-August 10, 2014). This sounds interesting, although I’m afraid that it will get lost in the Pantages. This needs to be in a much smaller theatre. Still… Will Ticket.

 

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