Observations Along the Road

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

Theatre Planning — Hollywood Fringe Edition

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 29, 2016 @ 7:58 pm PST

userpic=fringeTicketing for the Hollywood Fringe Festival opens Sunday morning. Here are the shows that I’m currently planning to see, if they don’t break the budget. There are additional shows of interest that we couldn’t fit into the schedule. Note: This is just a paste of my favorites from the Fringe Website.

  • 30JJ OR BUST: THE WORLD IS MY UNDERWIRE. It’s surprisingly what comes up when you’re living as a 30-double-J in a 34-C world.
  • ALIEN VS. MUSICAL. What happens when the world of musical theatre meets the most terrifying alien in cinema history? The award winning ALIEN VS. MUSICAL returns for 2016 and it’s bigger and better than ever!
  • ALL ABOARD THE MARRIAGE HEARSE. Sean and Amy are a typical co-habitating, Catholic/Jewish couple who love each other and share common goals…sort of. Now, after four years, Amy wants to get married but Sean does not believe in the institution. The game is on! Don’t miss this acclaimed, international hit romantic comedy!
  • ALL THE BEST KILLERS ARE LIBRARIANS. In this action-packed comedy, Lauren Van Kurin (“King of Kong: A Musical Parody”) stars as a shy librarian recruited into the thrilling world of professional assassinations, international intrigue, and forbidden romance. **WINNER** Season Ten of “Serial Killers” at Sacred Fools Theater
  • CODE:197 DWB (DRIVING WHILE BLEWISH). Benny Lee Harris Lumpkins Jr, a.k.a. Ben-El David, a.k.a Benny Weinberg, or is it Benny Lee Harris Weinberg-Lumpkins, whatever, he is Blewish, a.k.a. Black and Jewish. Oy Vey! Sababa? Why Judaism? These questions are answered and more at the only Oneg at hff16. Special appearance by Diversidad.
  • EINSTEIN! Einstein comes back from the beyond. Upset with the way his image has been cheapened, he tells us the remarkable– sometimes harrowing, story behind relativity and his struggles as a father. Told through humor and heart, Jack Fry breathes life into one of the most intriguing icons of all time.
  • HAMLET . Shakespeare’s Hamlet cut and adapted for modern audiences. Set in the 1940s in a struggling Las Vegas with the mob as the Royal Family.
  • LAMPREY: WEEKEND OF VENGEANCE. Lamprey is having trouble with her husband at home, her partner was just murdered, Internal Affairs is riding her ass, and a homicidal killer is gunning for her. This might just be the best day of her life! The Lamprey premiered at Serial Killers at Sacred Fools.
  • MY BIG FAT BLONDE MUSICAL. It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings. My Big Fat Blonde Musical follows Terri as she fights her insecurities and learns to measure her worth by talent rather than the size of her pants.
  • MARK TWAIN ANSWERS ALL YOUR QUESTIONS. Fresh off his award-winning performance at last year’s Poe Show,* Mr. Mark Twain is back with his one man show! This June at the new Sacred Fools space, Mr. Mark Twain will be shooting out the lights with stories, observations, and general nonsense (with extra nonsense on the side). If he fools around long enough, he may even say something worth repeating.
  • SQUEEZE MY CANS. The Church of Scientology had actress Cathy Schenkelberg for 14 years; 5 years after leaving them behind, she has the courage to tell us all about it. This hilarious and horrifying story unfolds under the direction of Shirley Anderson.
  • SWEET LOVE ADIEU. Romeo and Juliet meets Monty Python in this hilarious comedy of errors from multiple award-winning British verse playwright phenomenon, Ryan J-W Smith. Winner – The International Award – Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015. “The Bard Mark II – Genius!” – BBC. “A damned good romp” – British Theatre Guide
  • TELL ME ON A SUNDAY. Directed by the award winning Calvin Remsberg and starring Shannon Nelson (“Drop Dead Gorgeous” and “Absolutely Filthy”), Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s classic one-woman musical that charts the course of an English hat designer’s romantic misadventures from NYC to LA and back again.
  • THE OLD WOMAN. The true life story of his mother’s heartbreaking journey into dementia, confronting the inevitable truth of aging, and coming to terms with his own mortality. A beautifully moving story peppered with moments of absolute joy and humor. “★★★★!” – CBC “Masterful storyteller” – WFP
  • THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL. HFF FIRST FOR THIS OFF-BROADWAY HIT! A light-hearted rock musical chemical spill. Good versus evil, love versus murder, nuclear waste versus New Jersey. Based on **that** infamous B Movie, TOXIE is factory-run-off fun, but a bit risqué. (13 and up, please.)
  • TITUS ANDRONICUS JR.. Murder…Cannibalism…Kids! Shakespeare’s bloodiest play performed by a cast of middle school students under the direction of a teacher suffering a nervous breakdown… What could go wrong?

Some shows that we considered, but couldn’t fit in, included A Little Hamlet, Who Are You Anyway, Doctor in the House, Vintage Box, Charming, The Human Test Subjects, Suckin Injun, Still Got It, The Story of Dick the Pussycat, My Manana Comes, Quaddafi’s Cook—Living in Hell, Cooking for the Devil, and many others. Go to the website and click on shows: there are over 274 to choose from.

Tickets go on sale May 01, 2016

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Making a Change – The Show Selection Process

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Apr 13, 2016 @ 7:40 am PST

userpic=theatre2If you’ve been reading my theatre posts for the last few weeks, you’ve seen the following line: “The fourth weekend in April is Pesach, but the Indie Chi Productions dark comedy Dinner at Home Between Deaths at the Odyssey Theatre (FB) sounded so interesting I’ve booked Sunday tickets.”

It did sound interesting. I made the selection based on a press release before it opened. As it has been running, however, I’ve been seeing its rating over on Bitter Lemons:  It is currently at the end of the ratings, with a score of 48% bitter. Quotes from the reviews include “a bit undercooked; with lighting cues missed, the stumbling over lines, and an integral plot incident causing unintentional laughter.”, “a sitcom whose humor is eccentric and contrived rather than savage and true”, “falls frustratingly short of both suspense and laughs, teeter-tottering between naturalism and farce. Stuart Ross’ direction so misunderstands the nature of the immature text that the actors are left “dead in the water.””, and “And then there are the plays that are really bad. Poorly conceived, badly written, terribly miscast, and excruciatingly directed. Such a play is “Dinner at Home Between Deaths”, now having its world premiere as a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. There is one good thing about this play, though: it’s only 90 minutes long” (although I must note some reviewers liked it).

One advantage of being a professional audience, as opposed to a professional critic, is that I pick the shows I see. Further, since I pay for shows, I can decide where to spend my money (note: even when I coordinate with a publicist, I pay at least Goldstar prices for my tickets). Further, when I book through Goldstar, I have the Red Velvet advantage: I can cancel a ticket. When I get a heads up about a potential train wreck, I’d rather go see something with a better chance of success. But what to see? My basic constraint was that it had to be Sunday, as Saturday is the first day of Pesach, and if we were going to a second seder, it would be Saturday night. That cut out some of the top rated shows on Bitter Lemons: “Waiting for Johnny Depp“, “Baby Oh Baby“. Others, such as “Cloud 9” weren’t on Goldstar, or (in the case of “You Never Can Tell“) were, but were too expensive.  I looked through the shows that had tickets for Sunday, and tentatively decided on “Anton in Show Business“, which was on Goldstar and had the following description:

When you’re a well-known TV star looking to increase your theatrical street cred, what do you do? Sign on to play a role in a small Texas repertory theater’s production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Go behind the scenes with three actresses — a jaded stage veteran, an eager Southern belle and Holly, the wildly popular TV star — in Anton in Show Business. Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Jane Martin won the American Theater Critics Association New Play Award for this raucous comedy. Now Nell Teare directs this all-female cast of Anton in Show Business at Hollywood’s Hudson Mainstage Theatre.

I had seen the press release on the show and it was of interest, but I couldn’t work it into the schedule.

Now, the other day, my wife had met a writer and an actress while having lunch somewhere, and they had mentioned they had a musical opening at the Met Theatre in Hollywood (which is the new home of Rogue Machine, having previously been home to DOMA, but this was neither a RMT or DOMA show). We googled the writer and the actress, but there was no mention of the show. My wife emailed him, and found out the show was “Psychosexual – A New Musical“, which had tickets on Brown Paper Tickets.  The description of the show was:

Marriage Counselors and Best-Selling Authors, Doctors Brad & Sarah Morton, are on the verge of getting their own big-time Television Show, produced by celebrated Media Mogul and Talk Show Host, Omeika Carter. Unfortunately (and unbeknownst to Omeika) Brad and Sarah’s own relationship is on the rocks.  Seeking solace, Brad has started to frequent Floyd’s Fabulous Fantasy Club, where exotic dancer, Leah Lane, has caught his attention.   With Club Owner Floyd Ryder seeking to take advantage of every situation, and fellow dancer, the sensual Kayla Sizzle, also looking for love, “PSCHOSEXUAL: A LOVE STORY” will both make you laugh and warm your heart.

Potentially interesting, but something was raising red flags. This show was opening in two days. There had been no press release. It wasn’t on Goldstar. It wasn’t on LA Stage Tix. It wasn’t on Plays411.net. It wasn’t on Footlights. The actress playing the lead wasn’t promoting it. It wasn’t being publicized anywhere that normal shows are being publicized. That was odd. That says “vanity production”. Sensing something, I investigated the writer more. He has written mostly for the animated TV screen (think “Cartoon Network”), and has had one other musical, “Campaign”, done with the same composer at this show.  I found a review of that show at the LA Times:

Mounting a full-blown original musical takes plenty of guts. In that regard, the creators of “Campaign,” a world premiere at the MET, deserve kudos for sheer ambition.  They also deserve a few discreetly hurled brickbats for the general clunkiness of their production, which fails to coalesce into a cohesive professional effort. A chief obstacle is the uninspired book by Samuel Warren Joseph, who also wrote the music and lyrics with Jon Detherage, the show’s musical director. […] But despite a few laughs along the way, the show seems stale, with retro musical numbers that sound like they’re being channeled from the 1950s.

Reading this, I was unsure whether I wanted to move from a known train wreck to an unknown train wreck. Better to see how the reviews for this show shake out before seeing it. On the other hand, although the production of Anton only has one review so far (it just opened), that review was extremely positive, the playwright won an award from the show, and past productions of the show have gotten very positive reviews — so at least there is a good chance of a decent book. The show is also publicized in the usual places.

Guess which show I’m switching to? Now you see the thought process that goes into selecting a show. Remember: This is the era of the Internet. People will research.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season: Ahmanson 🎭 Geffen

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Mar 22, 2016 @ 7:28 pm PST

userpic=theatre2Well, the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and The Geffen Playhouse (FB) just announced their upcoming seasons, so it is time for another “Thoughts on a Theatre Season“…

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

The Ahmanson Theatre

Back in January, when Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the Pantages (FB) announced their seasons (and after a moment of silence for Cabrillo), I wrote:

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 :-).

The Ahmanson just announced their season, and I ended up being 2 out of 6. Here are my thoughts:

  • Thumbs Down Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge. Sep 7 – Oct 16, 2016. This is the Young Vic production, but it doesn’t really excite me.
  • Thumbs Up Amalie: A New Musical. Dec 6, 2016 – Jan 15, 2017. This premiered last fall under the direction of Pam McKinnon at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I liked the movie, so this intrigues me.
  • Thumbs Up Fun HomeFeb 21 – Apr 1, 2017.Tony-winning. Need I say more?
  • Thumbs Down Into the Woods. Apr 4 – May 14, 2017. This is the Fiasco 10-actor version, but I’ve seen the original and I’ve seen it in 99 seat. Why see it again?
  • Thumbs Down Jersey Boys. May 16 – Jun 24, 2017. Been there. Saw it.
  • Thumbs Up Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  Aug 2 – Sep 10, 2017. Oh yes.

This still leaves the question of where Aladdin and School of Rock will end up: I’m guessing the Pantages after Hamilton; similarly, Something Rotten may also end up at the Pantages depending on timing, or the next season at the Ahmanson.

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The Geffen

The Geffen in Westwood has also announced their season. My thoughts:

  • Thumbs Down Barbecue. Sept. 6 to Oct. 16, 2016. Seen last year at the Public Theater in New York. O’Hara’s comedy follows two families — one white, one black — as they bicker and brawl amongst themselves at separate gatherings in a public park.
  • Thumbs Down Margulies’ The Model Apartment. Oct. 11 to Nov. 20, 2016. This debuted in 1995 and tells the story of a retired couple living in a condo.
  • Thumbs Down Icebergs. Nov. 8 to Dec. 18, 2016. This takes place in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, following four friends negotiating professional and personal challenges. World premier of a Alena Smith play.
  • Thumbs Down Benjamin Scheuer’s solo show The Lion. Jan. 4 to Feb. 19.
  • Thumbs Down Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride. April 4, 2017, to May 14, 2017.
  • thumbs-side Payne’s Constellations. June 6, 2017 to July 16, 2017. The elusive story involves a man and a woman, bound together by advanced physics.

Plus two productions to be announced later. Only one show piques my interest, which is about par for the course at the Geffen.

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Better Warn the Pantages….

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Mar 21, 2016 @ 5:22 pm PST

Cabrillo Userpicuserpic=colonyuserpic=repeastI’m three for three.

All three of the theaters at which I subscribed at the end of 2015 have gone dark or belly up.

  • REP just went silent; there have been no newsletters or messages to subscribers since December. A 2016 season was never announced. An old message on the grapevine said they might be back in August. We’ll see.
  • The Colony Theatre announced they were cancelling the last two shows of their seasons, and there was no prognosis for the future. One could “donate” the remainder of the tickets for a tax write-off, or wait to see if something emerges. No offers of refunds. At least the Colony had the decency to tell subscribers before the media.
  • Cabrillo Music Theatre announced today that they were closing up shop at the Civic Arts Plaza at the end of this season. The next season was cancelled, and the future is unknown. The TO Civic Arts Plaza will be refunding subscriptions and donations. They informed the media and Facebook before they sent the mail to subscribers.

First, someone better warn the Pantages — we just subscribed there. It also makes me think twice about subscribing at the Pasadena Playhouse: it looks like companies that have come out of financial problems remain shaky and unsteady. and Pasadena is only a few years out.

So here’s my question: We traditionally have had three subscriptions: one intimate, one mid-size, and one large. Arguably, the large is now the Pantages. So where should we consider for the intimate and the mid-size? I’ve got my ideas, but I’d like to hear your suggestions.

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Thoughts on a Theatre Season (Pasadena Playhouse) 🎭 Other Theatre News

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Mar 04, 2016 @ 6:39 pm PST

userpic=theatre2Some weeks the news chum doesn’t theme, and you get stew at the end of the week. Other weeks, you get a multicourse tasty meal. This week is the latter. For our first course, some theatre news:

🎭 Pasadena Playhouse 2016-2017 Season 🎭

The Pasadena Playhouse (FB) has just announced their 2016-2017 season, and it looks quite interesting. In fact, with The Colony Theatre (FB) going dark, we might just switch back to the Playhouse (if they can do a decent payment plan). Let’s look it over together, shall we?

  • Thumbs Up The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, directed by Seema Sueko. Sept. 6, 2016 to Oct. 2, 2016. I’ve seen two productions of The Fantasticks: a great Theatre West (FB) production and an even better Good People Theatre (FB) production. This is a very touching show which I’m growing to love. It should be interesting to see what the Playhouse can do with it.
  • Thumbs Up M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, directed by Bart DeLorenzo. Oct. 25, 2016 to Nov. 20, 2016. Winner of multiple Tony Awards including “Best Play” in 1988 and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “M. Butterfly” is David Henry Hwang’s fictionalized account of an actual French diplomat who carried on an affair with a Peking opera star for twenty years, only to discover she was actually a man. I remember when this won the Tony and missed seeing it when it was at the Ahmanson.
  • Thumbs Up Shout, Sister, Shout! conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, book by Cheryl West. Jan. 31, 2017 to Feb. 26, 2017. A World Premiere musical conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, the creator of A Night With Janis Joplin. The musical depicts the life and music of legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose hits include “Down by the Riverside,” “This Train,” and “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” Given the style of music, this could be very interesting.
  • Thumbs Up Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. March 28, 2017 to April 23, 2017. No director stated. The press release states “a great way to return to the tradition of the Bard on our stage as The Pasadena Playhouse enters its 100th year.” One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “Twelfth Night” features mistaken identities, gender confusion and separated twins, all obstacles to be overcome on the quest for true love. If they don’t muck with it, this could be good.
  • thumbs-side ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. May 30, 2017– June 25, 2017. Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse, is on the hunt for the show he will direct for the last production of his final season as Artistic Director. Could be good, could be …

I’m not bothering to list the Pantos — I don’t care about those. I’ll explore subscribing when we’re there later in March.

🎭 New Jersey at the Fringe 🎭

The good folks at Good People Theatre (FB) have announced their Fringe musical:

We have exciting news! GPTCo is teaming up with Producer Alejandro Patino to bring you The Toxic Avenger Musical this June at Fringe! We will be at The Sacred Fools Space on Lillian Way. More info to come!

Posted by Good People Theater Company on Thursday, March 3, 2016

I’ve heard the music from this, and it is great. Should be a hoot, and I’m looking forward to it.

🎭 Yiddish Theatre in LA 🎭

Inside LA Stage History has a wonderful article up on the history of Yiddish Theatre and cabaret in LA. This includes the fact that the New Beverly theatre on Beverly Blvd (now owned by Quentin Tarentino) used to be a Yiddish Theatre, and is credited with the LA debut of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, as well as Phil Silvers, who worked there as an emcee.

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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.


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!


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 :-).


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.


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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