Observations Along the Road

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

A Final Serving of News Chum Stew to Close Out 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Dec 31, 2016 @ 11:12 am PST

Observation StewIt’s the last day of the year. That means it is time to clean out the accumulated News Chum links, so I can  start 2017 fresh. It’s been a busy week, what with cleaning out the highway headlines and getting the California Highways website updated. But I’ve caught up on the RSS links (again, I highly recommend newsblur, which I switched to when Google Reader died), and I’ve got a full set of hopefully interesting articles ready to go:

  • Livejournal Moves its Servers to Russia. The Russians haven’t only interfered in the US elections and been sanctioned for it (more on that in my second post for today). Long ago, the Russian entity SUP purchased Livejournal from SixApart. In fact, supposedly the Russian word for blog is Livejournal. But the servers for the American Livejournal have long been on American soil, under American rules. Not any more: Livejournal has moved their servers to Russia, and already Russia is interfering with free speech. I’ve been with Livejournal since I started blogging back in 2004; I’ve got a permanent account there. I’ve been there through the original ownership, the days of SixApart and Vox Media, and the SUP ownership. About 4-5 years ago, I got fed up with their DDOS attacks and moved my blog over to WordPress, self-hosted on cahighways.org. I also created a Dreamwidth account with the same username as LJ (cahwyguy), and set things up so my posts auto-crosspost to Dreamwidth, and thence to LJ. I also imported all my posts from LJ to this blog, although some were protected and comments didn’t come through. Most of the friends I’ve had from LJ days have been refriended on Facebook. Long story short (TL;DR): LJ is now my tertiary site; I still read and comment there, but main posts are here. Those still reading this there are welcome to friend me over on Dreamwidth (user: cahwyguy) or on Facebook (again, user cahwyguy).
  • Fiddler on the Roof Announces Tour. Continuing the trend of starting with some updates, about a week ago I did some predictions about the upcoming touring season of Broadway shows. Since I wrote that, Fiddler has confirmed their tour. I predicted that Fiddler would go to the Ahmanson; as the Pantages shared the news from Playbill, it could end up there. I’m interested in this tour primarily because this version’s Motel, Adam Kantor, did Yiddishkeyt with my daughter.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas. As we’re on the penultimate day of Chanukah, and still within the 12 days of Christmas (and we still have annoying Christmas car commercials on TV), this article is still of interest: The story behind the most annoying Christmas Carol: The 12 Days of Christmas. For someone who doesn’t like Christmas Carols (for the record, my favorite is still Peter Paul and Mary’s Christmas Dinner), I found the background fascinating.
  • Solar Power – It’s Everywhere. Another thing currently on my mind is solar power, as we’re about to embark on a re-roofing and solar installation here (a consequence of extremely high DWP bills ($1500 and $1200 from July/August and September/October) and wanting to get it done before Trump guts everything). So this article about how Solar Power is getting cheaper caught my eye. To my eye, solar is now a no-brainer even if you don’t believe in climate change: it helps us get off of imported oil, and ensures our domestic reserves will be there in the future when we need them (as there is no dispute that petroleum is a limited resource). More importantly, cutting edge solar is now cheaper than Natural Gas, as least for large power producers. Alas, home solar has not gotten significantly cheaper, although presumably it will pay out in utility savings (especially in the hot San Fernando Valley).
  • Historical Notes. Two articles related to history caught my eye. The first has to do with Air Force Space Command, and particularly a new website that captures that history. I know one of the folks on that website, Warren Pearce; he seems to view me as a “greybeard” in relation to AFSPC (although I’m more of a CBG – Chubby Bearded Guy). I’m not really a greybeard in the true sense (although my first task when I got to my current employer was doing the security certification of then Lt. Pearce’s facility in the Springs — which I still remember because our finding was the lack of plastic sheeting in case the sprinklers went off), although I know quite a few from my SDC days. The second looks at the history of the Shopping Mall, and how the designer came to regret it. The mall — in its original sense of a square building, with the stores turned inwards surrounded by parking and a non-descript exterior — is dying, to be replaced by urban streetscapes such as the Rick Caruso specials or Big Box stores that harken back to the shopping main streets of old. What’s old is new again. Speaking of that, remember the site in Carson that was going to be the home of the LA Raiders. It’s becoming a shopping outlet mall.
  • Annoying Things. Here’s another pair of interest, dealing with annoying things. The first article looks at those annoying notifications of “Facebook Live” events from your friends — and provides information on how to turn them off. The second is more significant, and worth saving as a reference: what to do if you are hit by ransomware. Of course, the first thing to do is make sure you have backups, not network connected, to save your ass. The page, however, provides information on how you might be able to decrypt your disk, and not pay the ransom. Related to that is a third potentially useful link: How to use the Microsoft System File Checker to restore potentially corrupted system files.
  •  Food News. Two food related items. The first has to do with a Russian-Armenian restaurant in North Hills that sounds interesting enough to try. The second deals with the death of yet another deli: Carnegie Deli in NYC has served its last Pastrami Sandwich, although an outpost remains in Las Vegas.  I’ll also note that Cables Coffee Shop in Woodland Hills has Closed.
  • Android Phone Information. Did you get a new phone for the holidays? Is it Android? If so, here are two articles for you. The first talks about what you should do to get rid of your old Android phone. The second talks about how to transfer stuff to your new Android phone.
  • Supersonic Flight Possibly Returning. We’re getting near the end, folks. Here’s an interesting article on why we lost commercial supersonic flight, and the way it may return. The answer is: It may not be for everyone, and it will remain very expensive.
  • The Specialist. Lastly, one of the podcasts I listen to is “The Specialist”, which talks about odd jobs. Here’s one for the specialist: the guy who replaces the light bulbs in the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. I’m sure he didn’t go to college with that career in mind.

And with that, we’ve cleaned out the 2016 News Chum. I’m planning one more political post to close out the year, and then it is on to 2017. May your new year be a good one, filled with fewer deaths of people close to you or celebrities you care about, and may all your news chum stews be filled with tasty morsels of delight, as opposed to pieces of sinew (as we got with the 2016 election, but that’s the next post).

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Musings on the 2017-2018 Touring Season

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Dec 23, 2016 @ 7:46 am PST

In my most recent theatre review, I wrote:

We recently received a note from the Pantages that said: “You know you are going to renew, why not make it easy and let us do the work for you? Sign up now for our annual, hassle-free season ticket auto-renew program by paying $100 DOWN TODAY and never worry about renewal deadlines again! Signing up to auto-renew automatically put you FIRST in line for Season Seat Upgrades.” The problem with this is that they haven’t announced the 2017-2018 season yet. So what might it be?

I’ve continued to think about this. I did some Googling around for tour announcements, and looked at some booking office websites (Broadway Booking Office, Troika, The Booking Group). Here are my thoughts/predictions of potential touring shows that might hit Los Angeles that we haven’t seen before or might be interested in, together with where they might end up. I’m not bothering to list the stuff that constantly shows up (i.e., Wicked):
[ETA: 🎫 = Tour Confirmed, and I’ve seen at least one Broadway-tour venue book the show.]

  • Aladdin – The Musical. 🎫 A national tour has been announced. I expect this will be at the Pantages, and may be one of the longer-run shows.
  • Allegiance. This closed on Broadway, and there are mixed reports on a tour: the FAQ on the website says “no”; the trades say “yes”. If a tour materializes, this will be at the Ahmanson.
  • Anastasia. This rework of the animated musical by the original team hasn’t yet opened on Broadway. It opens in April 2017, and there is no tour announcement. I expect it to eventually tour, and it is a tossup whether it ends up at the Ahmanson or the Pantages.
  • A Bronx Tale – The Musical. The musical just opened on Broadway in December 2016. I haven’t seen an announcement of a National Tour.
  • Bright Star. M/L: Steve Martin, Edie Brickell. A tour was announced in December 2016, starting in Salt Lake City in 2018. This is a show I’d like to see. This one is likely for the Pantages, but could be Ahmanson-fodder.
  • The Color Purple.  🎫 The revival has closed on Broadway, with a National Tour set for Fall 2017. The original was at the Ahmanson, and the revival will likely be at the Pantages. I’d go to see it.
  • Come From Away – The Musical. This musical opens on Broadway in February of 2017. I see no tour announcement.
  • Dear Even Hansen. This just opened on Broadway; it has gotten good reviews. No tour announcement, although I’d expect one. Likely 2018, and this would be an Ahmanson show if it materializes.
  • Escape to Margaritaville. 🎫 This appears to be on tour on its way to Broadway. If it hits LA, likely Pantages.
  • Falsettos. William Finn. This revival recently opened on Broadway. No tour announcement yet. My guess would be 2019, if it happens.
  • Fiddler on the Roof. The Danny Burstein revival is currently on Broadway, closing 12/31/16.  I haven’t seen an announcement that this version will go on tour. [ETA: The tour has now been announced for 2018]
  • Groundhog Day – The Musical. This London transfer is supposedly opening on Broadway in 2017. No tour announcement that I see. Not that interesting to me at this point.
  • The Humans. This is one of those rare plays that is having a national tour. This will be at the Ahmanson; they like to book the occasional play.
  • Les Miserables. 🎫 The 25th Anniversary Production closed in September 2016, and a tour has been announced for 2017. If it happens, this will show up at the Pantages, for it a clear draw for that audience. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t give away the tickets if it was part a subscription.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Musical.  Sigh. Yes, this is a real thing. No, I haven’t heard the music. I don’t believe it has played Broadway; it is an import from the West End (like The Bodyguard). The show ended in London in 2008, and a “World Tour” was announced for 2015. Although it is on the booker’s website, there have been no further announcements. Not well reviewed, over 3 hours. I’m not sure this will hit Los Angeles if the tour materializes; if it does, it will materialize at the Pantages. Likely a “meh” for subscriptions.
  • Love Never Dies. 🎫 The Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel to Phantom. A 2017 tour of North America has been announced. This is something the Pantages would book, given their success with Phantom.
  • MatildaI saw this with the first National tour at the Ahmanson. A 2017 National Tour has been announced. This repeat could appear at the Pantages.
  • Miss Saigon. This will be coming back to Broadway in 2017. A National Tour starts in Providence RI in Fall 2018. This has the feel of a Pantages show, although I could see this at the Ahmanson in a 2018 or 2019 season.
  • On Your Feet. The Gloria Estefan musical. Currently on Broadway. No tour announcement that I see, although I could easily see this on tour and being successful in Los Angeles. Has the feel of a Pantages show.
  • Phantom of the Opera. 🎫 A perennial on the tour market. There is a US Tour, booked into 2017. I could see this reappear at the Pantages, although I’m not that interested in it.
  • School of Rock. ALW”s new musical has announced a national tour. I’d like to see this one. My gut says 75% chance of the Pantages; 25% Ahmanson.
  • Something Rotten. Closes on Broadway, and tour dates have been announced. Furthest west so far is Austin. I expect this to hit LA. Gut says 75% Ahmanson, 25% Pantages.
  • Deaf West’s Spring Awakening. A national tour has been announced, and CTG has expressed interest. Given the relationship between CTG and Deaf West, this will be an Ahmanson show.
  • Tuck Everlasting. Oh, I wish. Closed on Broadway after a very short run. No announcement of a tour, but licensed and available. I’d expect a production to show up at MTI or something like that.
  • Waitress. 🎫 A national tour was announced in April. I expect this in LA, and I’m going to predict the Ahmanson.
  • The Who’s Tommy. The show is available for booking, although I don’t really see signs of a current major or forthcoming tour.

There are numerous other shows currently coming to Broadway that I expect to tour, but I think they would be 2018-2019 at best. So how do I predict the seasons to work out? Here are my predictions:

  • Ahmanson 2017-2018 Season: Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, The Humans, Something Rotten, Waitress, and possibly the Fiddler revival, Allegiance, or a pre-Broadway musical.
  • Pantages 2017-2018 Season: Disney’s Aladdin, School of Rock, Love Never Dies, Bright Star, Matilda, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Color Purple, and possibly On Your Feet.

There may also be some pointless retreads in there, such as Phantom, Lion King, or Momma Mia.

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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“…

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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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