Observations Along the Road

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

Thoughts on a Theatre Season 2016-2017: Cabrillo Music Theatre 🎭 Pantages

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jan 26, 2016 @ 12:01 pm PST

userpic=theatre_musicalsYesterday, I received in the mail my season renewal for Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); today’s news brought an update on the upcoming season at the Pantages (FB). So I thought I would share with you (over lunch) my thoughts on these announcements, together with my thoughts on an announcement we haven’t received from one of our regular theatres.

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Cabrillo Music Theatre

Cabrillo UserpicCabrillo Music Theatre (FB) has sent season subscribers their renewal information for the 2016-2017 season — these is even before the 2nd show of the 2015-2016 season (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, opening Friday 1/29) is on the boards. If you recall, we skipped the 2014-2015 season because we had seen all of the shows; we rejoined back in 2015 because the shows sounded interesting again. Here is the set of shows for 2016-2017, with my thoughts on them. Note that the show in the Kavli has moved from being optional to part of the season.

 

  • Thumbs Up Evita. (October 14-23, 2016) We last saw Evita in a community theatre production while we were in Maui. While it was pretty good, it wasn’t at the professional level. The Evita before that was at Van Nuys HS. I saw the original tour when it was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City ages and ages ago. I actually enjoy the show if it is done right, so it will be interesting to see Cabrillo’s take on it.
  • Thumbs Up Disney’s Tarzan. (January 27 – February 12, 2017, Kavli Theatre) This was on Broadway briefly, but it otherwise hasn’t been in the LA area. I’m not even sure I’ve heard the music or seen a cast album of the stage version of it. It should be interesting to see how this works for Cabrillo.
  • Thumbs Up Sister Act. (April 21-30, 2017) We last saw Sister Act when it was at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) in its pre-Broadway run in 2006. We liked it then; it will be interesting to see how it has changed. So, why didn’t we see it when the tour came to the Pantages? Simple: It’s good, but it wasn’t worth Pantages prices that close to the Playhouse run. Time — and lower prices — bring it back into the “going” camp.
  • Thumbs Up Peter Pan. (July 14-23, 2017) According to the Cabrillo mailer, the theatrical rights have been tied up for a long time. I certainly haven’t seen it on stage in ages (if ever); Cathy Rigby used to do it regularly  at La Mirada, but it’s got to be at least a decade or two since it has been there. I’ve seen dramatic variations; I’ve seen prequels; and of course I’ve seen live stage productions on TV.  It will be interesting to see it on the Cabrillo stage, and I’m curious whether they are going to take the changes made for the TV production — additional songs, reworking of the Native American involvement — and move them back into the stage book.

So am I going to renew? I think so. The shows look interesting. The price is right (about $150 for Saturday evening Mezzanine, per person, for four shows)… plus they now allow you to split it over two payments!

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Pantages Theatre

userpic=broadwaylaWhat truly prompted this lunchtime post, however, was the announcement that, as part of the Pantages (FB) 2016-2017 season, Hamilton was coming to Los Angeles. When the Hamilton tour was first announced, I wondered where it would sit down. The Ahmanson Theatre (FB), although having great seats, won’t host a show for that long of a period. As for the Pantages (FB), I didn’t think they would want to tie up the theatre for the long engagement Hamilton would need. I truly expected it would inaugurate one of the old movie palaces on Broadway. I was wrong.  It is doing a five month engagement at the Pantages. Here are my thoughts on Hamilton, plus the rest of the announced schedule:

  • Thumbs Up Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (November 1-27, 2016). I’ve heard the music to Hedwig, and I’ve grown to really like it. I wonder who they will get for the lead, and whether it will be a tour lead, or they will do a special lead for the Los Angeles engagement.
  • thumbs-side The King and I. (December 13, 2016 – January 21, 2017). I’ve heard the music to the recent revival of The King and I, and I like it more than other revivals. However, this is still my least favorite R&H show. I tend to find it slow and overdone. I’ll need to think about this one.
  • Thumbs Up Finding Neverland. (February 21 – March 12, 2017). Ah, Peter, my friend. Back so soon. I’ve heard the music to this and like it quite a bit. It will be really interesting to see it in the same season that Cabrillo is doing their Peter Pan.
  • Thumbs Up An American in Paris. (March 22 – April 9, 2017). Again, I’ve heard the music, and the wonderful Gershwin melodies. The story, at least as was in the movies, is weak. But I recall reading that the adaption made some interesting choices in the setting to make this work again. Plus, of course, there is the fabulous dancing.
  • Thumbs Down The Bodyguard. (May 2-21, 2017). An adaptation of a Whitney Houston movie, starring Deborah Cox. It hasn’t been on Broadway to my knowledge; this is a tour from London’s West End. Book is by Alexander Dinelaris based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasden. There are no credits for music or lyrics, so this is a jukeboxer. I was more interested in Ghost than I would be in this.
  • Thumbs Down The Book of Mormon (May 30 – July 9, 2017). Not interested. I saw this at the Pantages during the first National tour.
  • Thumbs Up Hamilton. (August 11 – December 30, 2017). Yes, oh yes. I’ve grown to really like the music and the story of this.

All in all, a reasonable season. I’ve been buying individual tickets when they first go on sale at the Pantages, at the cheapest price. I’m buying them online now, so I do get the service fee. Given that, I think I’ll see if I can get a 4-show mini-subscription this year, as it may mean better and more consistent seats for the price. I would love it if the Pantages did a “split into 2 payments” option, but I doubt they will. Too bad. They would probably get more subscribers. [ETA: The good news is that according to their website, they have 2, 4, and 10 no-interest payment plans. The bad news is that currently they only have a 7 show subscription. Flex packages go on sale around July.]

Other Tour Musings: Aladdin: The Musical just announced their national tour, starting in Chicago April-July 2017. Those dates mean it can’t go into the Pantages until at least 2018, and this is show that I’d expect to go into the Pantages. So it may show up at the Ahmanson in the Fall of 2017 (they haven’t announced their season yet), or (more likely) it will be in the Winter or Spring of 2018 at the Pantages. It also sounds like there is a tour of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  It is part of the 2016-2017 SHN San Francisco season, so my guess is that it will be a fall show at the Ahmanson, because (a) it is unlikely they would delay it until 2018, and (b) they rarely, if ever, book plays into the Pantages. Fun Home and Something Rotten have also announced tours; Fun Home starts in late 2016; Rotten in 2017. Given the Pantages schedule, I’m expecting both to show up at the Ahmanson. School of Rock: The Musical has also announced a tour; although that’s a show that would fit the Pantages audience better, the long sitdown at the Pantages means it will likely be an Ahmanson show. Gee. I’ve just figured out the Ahmanson season :-).

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Repertory East Playhouse

userpic=repeastNow we come to the non-announcement. As you might recall, in all my writeups of late, I’ve been indicating that I’ve been waiting for REP East (FB) 2016 season. It normally would be well underway by now. But we have heard nothing from the theatre; their website has not been updated since December. I’ve heard ominous rumblings, but that could just be a bit of grisly beef I had for lunch. However, I did drop a note to REP, and did get a little something back. Basically, what I know is that they are closed for unspecified restructuring and renovations, and that a new season will begin in August. There will be a more formal announcement once the jello has jellified.

So the good news is: they are coming back. The bad news is: it won’t be until August. This is too short to switch a subscription to somewhere else, but I sense I’ll be getting a lot of The Group Rep (FB) tickets on Goldstar.

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userpic=las-vegasP.S.: This time it is true. Abe Vigoda has passed away. And in the universe, a thousand memes cried in sympathy.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: ICT 2016 Season

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Aug 26, 2015 @ 10:45 pm PST

userpic=dramamasksContinuing my question to clear off the stored links…. I recently received (both from International City Theatre (ICT) (FB) and their publicist) the announcement of ICT’s upcoming season. Here are my thoughts on it:

  • Closer Than Ever. February 10 – March 6. Music and Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire. Filled with hilarious and poignant songs about dating, parenting, aging and dreams both fulfilled and unrequited, Closer Than Ever is like a musical “how-to” manual for life. With each song a self-contained story inspired by real-life experiences, its message to value the little things in life remains timeless.

    Thumbs Down Alas, I just saw the excellent Good People Theatre Co (FB) production of the show at Hollywood Piano Co. [writeup]. Once you have heard it on a wonderful 9½ foot Mason & Hamlin grand piano, who needs Long Beach?

  • A Walk in the Woods. April 27 – May 22. by Lee Blessing.  Lee Blessing’s brilliant and funny play of ideas, based on an actual event, is a stunningly powerful and provocative drama that seems more timely than ever and probes the most important issue of our time – the very survival of our civilization. Nearing the end of the Cold War, a pair of arms negotiators – a clever, cynical Russian and an idealistic young American – meet in the woods outside Geneva to explore the obstacles their countries face on the path to peace. Can personal bonds bridge political chasms?

    Thumbs Down Although I haven’t seen this, the subject is not a sufficient draw to make me brave the traffic to Long Beach.

  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. June 8 – July 3. by Christopher Durang. One of the most lauded Broadway plays of recent years, this witty mash-up of Chekhov characters and smartphones is a delightful new comedy for our hyperconnected era. Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia live an angst-ridden, melancholic existence on their Bucks County, PA family farm. That is, until their glamorous movie-star sister, Masha, swans in for a surprise visit-along with her hunky 20-something boy toy, Spike.

    Thumbs Down We saw this play in early 2014 when it was at the Mark Taper Forum (FB) [writeup]. Although entertaining, it’s not unique enough to make it worth the drive to Long Beach.

  • Doubt, A Parable. August 17 – September 11. by John Patrick Shanley. John Patrick Shanley’s riveting psychological drama examines the fine line between what seems certain and ambiguity, between conviction and doubt. It is 1964, a time of movement and change, but Catholic school principal Sister Aloysius values a stern hand over progressive education. When evidence points to an inappropriate relationship between Father Flynn and the school’s first black student, she begins a crusade to rid the church of him.

    Thumbs Down We saw an excellent production of this earlier this year at Rep East Playhouse (FB) [writeup] with the wonderful Georgan George (FB) as Sister Aloysius and Jeff Johnson/FB as Father Flynn. We also saw it back in 2005 at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) [writeup]. Again, no strong urge to go to Long Beach to see it.

  • Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself). October 12 – November 6. by Donald Margulies.A celebration of storytelling, this theatrical adventure is based on the real-life autobiography of Louis de Rougemont. An intrepid explorer, Rougemont’s amazing tales of bravery, survival and exotic locales left 19th century England spellbound. Join Louis and two other actors playing more than 30 characters in a high seas adventure with flying wombats, giant sea turtles and more.

    Thumbs Down Although this sounds like it could be a humorous play, it doesn’t sound like something with sufficient draw to bring me to Long Beach.

So, you’re probably wondering, what does draw me to Long Beach. First, when ICT does musicals that I’ve only heard or heard about, but never seen. Their productions of Loving Repeating, The Robber Bridgegroom, and Once on this Island fell into this category. Second would be a production of something I’ve heard about on Broadway and want to see, but hasn’t been done elsewhere in LA. Is He Dead? fell into this category.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri May 01, 2015 @ 6:49 pm PST

userpic=theatre_ticketsAnother entry in a continuing series of reviews of season announcements. This time it is the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB), where we recently saw the wonderful remounting of Carrie. It’s a bit of a drive, so a show needs to be special (in some way) for us to slog on down. Here are my thoughts on their upcoming season:

  • Thumbs Up First Date. September 18 – October 11, 2015 (Press Opening September 19). Book by Austin Winsberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Directed by Nick DeGruccio. I picked up the CD for this because it had Krysta Rodriguez and have really enjoyed the music. Plus Nick is directing — always a great sign. I’m going to try to fit this one into the schedule.
  • Thumbs Down Rent. October 23 – November 15, 2015 (Press Opening October 24). Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson. Directed by Brian Kite. For Rent, there would need to be something truly different about the production — an intimate setting, some special quirk of casting, some new twist. We essentially have the Broadway version captured in the movie.
  • thumbs-side Empire: The Musical. January 22 – Feb 14, 2016 (Press Opening January 23). Book, Music and Lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull. Directed and Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Empire is an original musical about those who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world, the Empire State Building. The subject doesn’t entice me, and I haven’t heard for the composer/lyricist. That sets up some red flags. I might withhold judgement on this until I learn some more.
  • Thumbs Down Dreamgirls. March 25 – April 17, 2016 (Press Opening March 26). Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. Directed and Choreographed by Bobby Longbottom. I saw this musical when it was originally out here (and I do mean the original), and the movie is still fresh in my memory. It’s not enough of a unique draw to bring me to La Mirada.
  • Thumbs Down The Little Mermaid. June 3- June 26, 2016 (Press Opening June 4). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Glenn Casale. This is about two weeks before it will be at Cabrillo Music Theatre’s (FB) (2015-2016 season), and we’re going to be subscribing to Cabrillo. Pass on another version.
  • Thumbs Down Green Day’s American Idiot. April 29 – May 15, 2016 (Bonus Option).  Music by Green Day. Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer.  Directed by Brian Kite. If I wanted to see this, I’d go to the upcoming DOMA (FB) version, as they do good work and create a great experience without the schlep. [ETA: LaMirada is doing an immersive staging — as they did with Carrie. Should be good, but the show just didn’t grab me the first time I saw it at the Ahmanson. Add to that a drive from Northridge to LaMirada (46 miles, about an hour), and if I wanted to see it again, I’d go to the much closer DOMA production.*]
  • Thumbs Down Leann Rimes. May 21, 2016 – 2pm & 8pm. A country music entertainer. Not the type of show that’s strong enough to attract me to a concert.

About 1 show. That’s usually the correct number with La Mirada — they have one unique show I try to go to each year (alas, I missed their production of Floyd Collins). [ETA: This is not to say La Mirada is bad — they just happened to pick shows that aren’t strong enough to offset a 1hr+ drive.]

[ETA: *: This highlights a problem in Southern California. Due to lack of coordination, we often have multiple theatres doing the same show at nearly the same time, and this just splits the audience. Funny Thing/Forum seems to be hot right now, as is Avenue Q. If you look at LaMirada, Little Mermaid is almost on top of Cabrillo — yes, they are 100 miles apart, but this is SoCal and we have cars. Similarly with AI, you’ve got it right after the DOMA production. It’s not just LaMirada: DOMA just did Jesus Christ Superstar, and REP in Santa Clarita is doing it this summer. We need a SoCal clearinghouse of shows, so everyone can do something unique and draw the audience.]

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: The Geffen

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Apr 14, 2015 @ 7:32 pm PST

userpic=theatre_musicalsYet another belated post from this weekend: My promised thoughts on the just announced 2015-2016 season at the Westwood Playhouse Geffen Playhouse (I’m sorry, but it’s always the Westwood Playhouse to me). I’ll note that The Geffen Playhouse (FB) is a great theatre — but one I rarely attend. Why? They very rarely discount, and their cheapest prices are often much much more than the cheapest at the Pantages. Thus, a show has to be really compelling for me to go into the $60+ ticket range. The upcoming “Murder for Two” is an example of such a show — in the smaller theatre, with little chance of discount tickets showing up, with the original cast, and something I really want to  see. Other than that, I think the last show I saw there was Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivens. For reference, the Gil Cates space is the larger with 512 seats. The Kenis space has 149 seats. So let’s look at the next season:

  • Thumbs Up THESE PAPER BULLETS! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Written by Rolin Jones. Songs by Billie Joe Armstrong. Directed by Jackson Gay. Sept. 8 – Oct. 18, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This sounds interesting — you have the leads of Green Day in something not from an album, and it is likely to garner discounts being in the larger of the Geffen’s two theatres.
  • Thumbs Down GUARDS AT THE TAJ. Written by Rajiv Joseph. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Oct. 6 – Nov. 15, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A violently beautiful, gruesomely funny comedy from the author of Bengal Tiger. A non-musical comedy, by an author I haven’t heard of, in the smaller theater. This might be interesting if I was a subscriber, but I don’t think it is a sufficiently compelling draw as a standalone.
  • thumbs-side OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. Written by John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Randall Arney. Nov. 10 – Dec. 20, 2015. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.  Modern romantic comedy in the Irish countryside.  The fact that this is John Patrick Shanley makes this intriguing, but not intriguing enough to overcome the price and the fact that it is in a really (theatrically) busy time of year.
  • Thumbs Down BARCELONA. Written by Bess Wohl. Directed by Trip Cullman. Feb. 2 – March 13, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A seductive look at values and cultural collisions through the backdrop of Gaudi’s beautifully unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Sorry, but this description doesn’t grab me.
  • Thumbs Down SEX WITH STRANGERS. Written by Laura Eason. Directed by Kimberly Senior. March 1 – April 10, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Two writers approaching love, sex and literature in comically different ways. Doesn’t grab me at Geffen prices. If it is good, I expect this one will reappear at smaller venues.
  • thumbs-side STAGE KISS. Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo. April 5 – May 15, 2016. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This new comedy follows former spouses and actors on and off-stage (and script). Could be funny, but not enough to attract me (again) at Geffen prices. Might consider this if there are good discounts and it fits into the Spring schedule (and I remember).
  • Thumbs Down BIG SKY. Written by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros. Directed by John Rando. June 7 – July 17, 2016. World Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Brilliant new family comedy from a Pulitzer nominee. Well that doesn’t say much, does it.

In general, I see some similarities in the programming of The Geffen Playhouse (FB) and The Colony Theatre (FB). I subscribe to the Colony — it is closer, parking is easier, and I believe it is less expensive for subscriptions. Both seem to try for a mix of world premieres and west coast premieres, and both tend to small cast shows as they have to pay Equity contracts.

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What The Hollywood Fringe Festival Needs… A Smart Scheduler

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 10, 2015 @ 11:12 am PST

userpic=theatre_ticketsI spent some time yesterday going through the list of shows at the upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival to figure out how I want to program my weekends in June. Previously, I was only able to hit one or two fringe shows. I’m still only going to be able to hit a small percentage (3.3%) (as I only have weekends available — weeknights — and even Friday night — in Hollywood is an impossibility with my work schedule), but I am going to be able to squeeze in a few more. Doing this, I realized what the HFF really needs: a smart scheduler. This scheduler should:

  1. Permit you to select the shows that are of interest to you, either individual, by category, by company, or any variety of selectors. It would also permit you to rank the shows from “must see” to “like to see” to “don’t schedule”
  2. Indicate the dates and time ranges you are available for shows throughout the festival period.
  3. Indicate the spacing you want between shows to accommodate transit time
  4. Indicating the meal times you want (ranges) and meal durations (so you can get lunch/dinner breaks)

With the above information, and the knowledge of show start times and running times, it would generate for you an optimal schedule that fit as many of the must-sees as possibles, and as many of the “likes to see” in the remaining spaces. After the ticket sales start, it would also have the capability to go out and ticket all the shows for you. The scheduling is a relatively complex CS problem to find the optimum schedule, but I do believe it should be doable. I think a website version would be best — I don’t believe in phone-apps for single-use purposes.

P.S.: Curious as to what shows I’m thinking about? Here’s the list of what I blocked onto my calendar: Clybourne ParkMax and Elsa. No Music. No Children., Wombat Man, Marry Me a Little, Nigerian Spam Scam Scam, Merely Players, Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, Medium Size Me, and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker. I had to work around some previously scheduled or blocked events: Grease (the Movie) at the Colony at 2pm on Sat. 6/6, a MoTAS Jethawks game in Lancaster (killing the entire day of 6/7), a morning Bat Mitzvah on Sat 6/13, a potential evening activity on Sun 6/14, and a drum corps show in Riverside on the last Fringe day, Sun 6/28. Shows that looked interesting, but I couldn’t schedule, were: Alien vs. MusicalBreaking BardNerd Anarchy: A Fantastic New Musical, Sin: A Pop Opera, Adam and Eve… and Steve, Stupid SongsAmelia’s Going DownEnshrouded in an Apocalyptic Mood, … and I’m sure there are others. With 241 shows (go to here and click “search”), so many sound interesting….

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Pasadena Playhouse / Theatricum Botanicum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 04, 2015 @ 9:47 am PST

userpic=theatre_musicalsTime for another post looking at theatre season announcements. Today’s post is triggered by the recent announcements of the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) season and the Theatricum Botanicum Seasons.

Pasadena Playhouse

We used to be long-time subscribers at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We weren’t treated well during the bankruptcy itself, and choose to move our mid-side theatre subscription to The Colony Theatre (FB) in Burbank. We’ve enjoyed the productions at the Colony, although they are not that adventurous or likely to move on to bigger and better things (you want adventurous productions that may move on, explore LA’s 99 Seat Theatre scene — which is threatened by AEA — learn more at http://ilove99.org). As for the Pasadena Playhouse, we haven’t much liked Sheldon’s programming — and especially the TBA slot. Still, we’re planning on one show this season there. So let’s see what they are proposing:

  • Thumbs Down Real Women Have Curves. Written by Josefina López. Directed by Seema Sueko. September 8 – October 4, 2015. This is taking a movie and moving it onstage. This can work (and draw audiences), but isn’t that particularly exciting to me… especially as a straightforward drama.
  • Thumbs Down Breaking Through. Book by Kirsten Guenther. Music and Lyrics by Cliff Downs and Katie Kahanovitz. Directed by Sheldon Epps. October 27 – November 22, 2015.  A new musical from a team that hasn’t done musicals before. That may or may not be bad — sometimes it works, sometimes it fails miserably. The story is about a young, talented singer/songwriter, as she tries to navigate the treacherous shark-­‐filled waters of the music business with a a compelling journey to find her way back to her authentic self and in the process rediscovers the music that truly makes her alive. Isn’t that Beautiful or any of a myriad of other shows? Not a compelling story.
  • Thumbs Down Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: A Pirate Christmas. By Kris Lythgoe. Directed by Bonnie Lythgoe. Musical Direction by Michael Orland. Choreography by Spencer Liff. December 9, 2015– January 3, 2016. British Christmas Panto. I’m sorry, but I’m generally not into Christmas-specific shows.
  • thumbs-side Fly. By Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan. Directed by Ricardo Khan. Produced in Association with Crossroads Theatre Company. January 26 – February 21, 2016. Fly tells the story of the first African-­‐ American Army Air Corp fighters known as the Tuskegee Airmen who flew over the skies of Europe and North Africa during World War II. Sigh. This is one of Sheldon’s shows designed to bring in an audience of color. I used to see these every year, and was disappointed that the audience didn’t remain around for other shows (or that the white audience disappeared for these shows). Potentially interesting, but not a must-see. All depends on what else is out around then.
  • Thumbs Up Casa Valentina. By Harvey Fierstein. Directed by David Lee. March 15 – April 10, 2016. Per the description: this moving and insightful play is nestled in the Catskills in 1962 -­‐ land of dirty dancing and borscht belt comedy.  But an inconspicuous bungalow colony is more than a place to escape the sweltering summer heat.  For a group of heterosexual men it is a place to escape something else entirely: being men. Interesting for the director and the playwright. Not sure that it draws me in fully, but this might be good.
  • thumbs-side ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. To Be Announced. May 31 – June 26, 2015. Otherwise known as the Sheldon CYA slot. I’m not going to commit myself if he can’t.

Not a season that excites me.

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Theatricum Botanicum

We’re not subscribers here, but we tend to see a show here and there, if it is interesting. As Theatricum Botanicum (FB) wrote:

The upcoming ‘Americana’ season includes William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, re-set in the Reconstruction-era South with live music of the period; To Kill A Mockingbird, Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel; August: Osage County, Tracy Letts’ biting portrait of the dysfunctional American family at its finest — and absolute worst; and Green Grow the Lilacs, the play by Lynn Riggs that inspired Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma. Finally, what could be more American than an outing to experience Theatricum’s signature production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, back for the ninth year in a row by popular demand? Audiences flock to this annual family favorite, a beguiling romantic comedy set in Theatricum’s own Topanga forest.

These all run in repertory through the summer. My thoughts:

  • Thumbs Up As You Like It. Seen a number of adaptations of this, including a disasterous one at the Pasadena Playhouse (the only show I’ve walked out on). The era and setting of this sound interesting.
  • Thumbs Down To Kill a Mockingbird. Great play, but I just saw it within the last couple of years at Repertory East. Given how crowded the summer is, I’m not sure it is worth squeezing in.
  • Thumbs Up August: Osage County. A classic play, worth seeing if I can squeeze it in.
  • Thumbs Up Green Grow the Lilacs. This is one I’d really like to see — the basis for Oklahoma. I’ve always heard about it.
  • Thumbs Down A Midsummers Night Dream. This one will be around again, so I’ll skip this time.

They only have seasons subscriptions up, so I’ll either have to remember to put HOLD dates or watch Goldstar.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Ahmanson Theatre 2015-2016

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

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 PST

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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