June 2016 California Primary Analysis (VII): Recap and Summary

Whew! My analysis of the Sample Ballot is done. Over six posts on this subject, I have gone through the sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5. This post provides a summary of my conclusions. For some positions, there are a number of good candidates and I couldn’t strongly settle on a particular one. In that case, the choice order will be indicated by numeric notations ①, ②, ③, ④, and so on. Click on the header for each section of the ballot to go to the detailed analysis post that supports these selections.

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (I): Introduction and Gubernatorial

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (II): Other Statewide State Offices

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (III): District-Based State Offices

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (IV): US Senate and House

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (V): Judicial and County

June 2016 California Primary Analysis (VI): State Measures

Note: 📜 indicates Legislative Constitutional Amendments.

  • Prop 68: Parks, Natural Resources, and Water Bonds: [✓] Yes
  • Prop 69: 📜 Requires Vehicle License Fee and Diesel Sales Tax go to Transportation[✓] Yes
  • Prop 70: 📜 2/3rds Vote to use Cap-and-Trade Funds[✗] No
  • Prop 71: 📜 Sets Effective Date for Ballot Measures[✓] Yes
  • Prop 72: 📜 Exempts Rainwater Capture Systems from Triggering Property Tax Reassessment[✓] Yes
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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (VI): State Measures

I just got recently sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates).There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the 5 propositions: Prop 68, Prop 69, Prop 70, Prop 71, and Prop 72. Note: All of these were placed on the ballot by the legislature. Initiatives will return with the Fall TV season for the November election. That’s how we do it now in California. Also note: There’s an error in the Printed and Online voter guide: for any references to www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov, omit the leading “www.” (sigh). Lastly, 📜 indicates Legislative Constitutional Amendments.

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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (V): Judicial and County

I recently got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the Judges of the Superior Court (Offices 4, 16, 20, 60, 63, 67, 71, 113, 118, 126, and 146), LA County Assessor, LA County Sheriff, and LA County Supervisor (3rd District).

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Seeing Beneath the Surface | “Violet” @ Actors Co-Op

Violet (Actors Co-Op)A few weeks ago, I wrote about the stark difference between two shows by the same composer (in that case, the team of Andrew Lloyd Webber (FB) and Glenn Slater (FB)): School of Rock was fantastic, whereas Love Never Dies really should have. Last night brought a similar comparison. Last week, I wrote about how Soft Power at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), with a score by Jeanine Tesori, landed with a thud. Last night, we saw an earlier show by Jeanine Tesori, Violet, at Actors Co-op (FB) and it was glorious and soaring and delightful. It even was a temporary cure for a migraine, it was that good.

I’ve seen Violet before — I saw the West Coast Premier almost three years ago to the day at the El Portal in NoHo, produced by Kelrik Productions. Last nights production was a bit larger and had a bit — just a bit — more props, but was equal if not stronger performance-wise. Before I go into those performances, let me describe the first, stealing from my description of three years ago:

Violet (Music by the aforementioned Jeanine Tesori, lyrics and book by Brian Crawley, based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts) tells the story of Violet Karl of Spruce Pine, NC in 1964. When Violet was 12, an accident with her father and an axe left her with a large facial scar, from cheek to nose. Ever since, she has been teased and grown to accept her ugliness. Keeping her going was a faith healer in Tulsa OK. Now 25, Violet has raised enough money to take Greyhound to Tulsa to be healed. Going through Tennessee, she meets two Army soliders: a black sergeant named Grady “Flick” Fliggins, and a young white corporal named Monty. Both take an interest in Violet. While overnighting in Memphis in a hotel that accommodates blacks, they go out to party and Monty ends up sleeping with Violet (although Violet told Flick she had left the door unlatched).  When they arrive at Fort Smith AR, the Monty indicates he will come back Saturday to meet her bus after she’s done in Tulsa. She continues on to Tulsa where she meets the healer… and you can likely predict what happens there. I won’t spoil the details of the end of the story, but you can read them on the Wiki page for the musical. Throughout the show, there are regular flashbacks to young Violet and her father showing their relationship and how she reacted to the scar and the absence of her mother. PS: I also found a wonderful scene breakdown.

Violet (Production Photostrip)This is a show with a strong message — and it isn’t about the charade of faith healers (although there is a strong message of the power of belief). At one point, the phrase Act ugly, do ugly, be ugly.” is used. In many ways, this is the underlying metaphor for the show. What you believe about yourself, how you behave, is what makes you ugly or beautiful. At the beginning of the show, Violet sees herself, due to the scar, as ugly. Later on in the show, after she believes she has been healed, you can see the change in her — she now believes she is beautiful and through the stint of that belief, transforms. But it isn’t just Violet. We see the soldiers transform from acting ugly to becoming caring people. We see, in the reactions of others, ugliness reflects. What becomes important is not “Act ugly, do ugly, be ugly” but its counterpoint: “Act beautiful, do beautiful, be beautiful.” It is our beliefs and behaviors that dictate how society sees us. Further, given this is the south in 1964, it is how society behaves — beautiful or ugly — that determines what society is.

This production of Violet, directed by Richard Israel (FB) with choreography by  Julie Hall (FB), was a delight. The performances were remarkable, with great facial expressions and believable reactions, wonderful movement, and soaring voices.

In the lead position was Claire Adams as Violet. I had so much fun watching her perform this role. She had a strong singing voice, but what got me more was the attitude she displayed and her facial expressions, She displayed a wonderful range of attitudes, and truly made the show special. Effectively paired with her was the younger version of Violet, played by Lily Zager (FB). She captured a similar range of attitude well and had a great singing voice. Even better was when the two of them sang together; their voices merged together delightfully. Just watch the two of them in the opening number or “Luck of the Draw”. [PS: Claire also designs webpages, a fact not in her bio but one of the ads]

Primarily playing off the adult Violet were the two soldiers she met on the bus ride:  Morgan West (FB) as Monty and Jahmaul Bakare (FB) as Flick. West gave a very tender portrayal of Monty, capturing not only bravado of a man entering the special forces, but the tenderness of a man who connected with a girl inside the damaged shell.  We’ve seen Jahmaul Bakare before — he was in the previous production we saw, where I wrote Bakare had a voice that would just make you melt; it was particularly notable in numbers such as “Let It Sing” and “Hard To Say Goodbye”.  He hasn’t changed, and is wonderful to listen to.

Primarily playing off the younger Violet was John Allsopp as Violet’s father. We saw Allsopp ages ago in Pest Control, so long ago he doesn’t list it on his resume! He gave an intense performance, ranging from the playful in “Luck of the Draw” to the emotional in the “That’s What I Could Do” number. His intensity in that number was just remarkable.

The remaining actors played multiple roles as bus passengers, as well as members of the ensemble. There are a few performances that are worth singling out. First and foremost is Kevin Shewey (FB) as the Televangelist Preacher (also Bus Driver, Gospel Choir).  He played the preacher with such intensity and spirit that I almost got up. Alas, my Judaism won out :-). He was also a strong singer in “Raise Me Up”. As we’re talking about church, I’d also like to single out Benai Boyd (FB) who portrayed Lulu Buffington, the lead Gospel singer (also: Almeta (Landlady) and a bus passenger). She had a wonderful voice during the gospel number. The next performer worthy of note was Lauren Thompson (FB), who for the longest time was our box office contact for this company. She played the Music Hall Singer, as well as a member of the Gospel choir and a bus passenger. I never realized that she had such a lovely voice. Lastly, I’d like to mention Co-Op regular Lori Berg (FB), who was wonderful as old lady on the bus (also: hotel hooker, gospel choir). Rounding out the ensemble as various bus passengers and choir members were: Patrick Cheek (FB) [Virgil, Leroy Evans]; Matthew Podeyn (FB) [Billy Dean, Waiter, Radio Singer]; and Emuna Rojkumar (FB).

Music was provided by a 5 piece band, conducted by Taylor Stephenson. The band consisted of Ellie Bunker [Violin]; Thomas Lovasz [Cello]; Dominic White [Guitar 1]; Manuel Mendoza (FB) [Bass]; and Jorge Zuniga (FB) [Drums]. The band had a wonderful sound.

Finally, turning to the production side. This performance was held in the Crossley Theatre, which is essentially a thrust staging with audience on three sides of the main action. The sides were made up to look like bus windows, and there were 1950’s style (mimicing PCC busses) movable benches and seats that became the various problems. Credit for the scenic design goes to Nicholas Acciani (FB), and it worked very well, Supporting this design was  Wendell C. Carmichael‘s costumes, which seamed reasonably appropriate for the era (I have a few quibbles on the Army uniforms — they conveyed the message but were lacking the normal uniform accouterments).  Cameron Combe (FB)’s sound provided the appropriate sound effects. Martha Carter‘s lighting design worked well, modulo a misbehaving LED above the band that wasn’t her fault. Remaining credits: Klint Flowers [Hair and Makeup]; Samantha Ramirez [Properties]; Derek R. Copenhaver (FB) [Stage Manager]; Jamie Mills [Asst. Stage Manager]Heather Chesley (FB) [Artistic Chairwoman];  Selah Victor (FB) [Production Manager]; Nora Feldman [Publicity]Thomas Chavira (FB) [Producer].

Violet continues at Actors Co-op (FB) through June 15. Go see it; it is a wonderful production with great music. Tickets are available through Actors Co-Op; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

Actors Co-Op has announced their 2018-2019 season, which consists of: Rope (Sept 21-Oct 28); She Loves Me (Nov 2 – Dec 16); Anna Karenina (Feb 8-Mar 17); Steel Magnolias (Mar 22-May 5); and The Christians (May 10-Jun 16). They’ve also announced their Co-Op Too! summer series: Stories of Madness from the Mindful Nut (July 20-22, 27-29); Always Andrews: A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters (Aug 2-5); and Twelfth Night, or What You Will (Aug 10-12, 17-19). We’ve subscribed. So should you.

***

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FB) in the West Adams district (although, alas, they just announced they are going dark after Fringe), a mini-subscription at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

Next weekend brings a Nefesh Mountain concert at Temple Ramat Zion on Shabbat; the weekend itself is currently open.

June — ah, June. That, my friends, is reserved for the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), including The Story of My Life from Chromolume Theatre (FB). You can find a detailed discussion of the Fringe schedule here. Right now, it looks like the following:

July will get busier again. It starts with the 50th Anniversary of Gindling Hilltop Camp, followed by On Your Feet at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The next weekend may bring Jane Eyre The Musical at Chromolume Theatre (FB) at the Hudson [yeah! Chromolume found a new location]. The third weekend in July brings a Bat Mitzvah in Victorville, with Beauty and The Beast at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) that evening. The last weekend may be a Muse/ique (FB) show. August starts with Waitress at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). I still need to work in the Actors Co-Op Too! dates into the schedule.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (IV): US Senate and House

I recently got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the US House of Representatives (30th District) and the US Senate.

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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (III): State District-Based Offices

I recently got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). Then there are all the other state, county, and district contests, plus the propositions. There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the State Board of Equalization (3rd District), and the two elections for Assembly District 45: the Full Term and the Short Term.

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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (II): Other Statewide State Offices

I recently got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). Then there are all the other state, county, and district contests, plus the propositions. There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the other statewide California officers: Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The district-based state offices — Board of Equalization and Assembly — will be covered in Part III.

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June 2016 California Primary Analysis (I): Introduction and Gubernatorial

I just got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). Then there are all the other state, county, and district contests, plus the propositions. Not to mention the fact that California does “jungle primaries” (which I’m growing to dislike) where all the candidates from all the parties are on the ballot. The theory was that this would lead to more moderate candidates; the reality is that all major moderate candidates split the votes sufficiently to allow candidates folks don’t like to squeak through, and it is more of a mess. There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

California Governor

Let’s start with the Governor’s race, and the 27 candidates. Going in to this analysis, I know two things: (1) I’m not a big fan of either of the front runners, Gavin Newsom (FB) or Antonio Villaraigosa (FB), and (2) I was very impressed by both Delaine Eastin (FB) and John Chiang (FB) during the one debate I saw. So I have a feeling where this will end up. But I do try to at least consider all candidates. I’m going to divide them into tiers: the first tier are those who have any chance of winning a place in the general election due to name recognition or publicity, the second tier are those who might have a political future somewhere, and the third tier are the unqualified rest.

[Read through the analysis below, and then come back here. I’ll wait. Note that normally I’ll have a “Conclusion” at the end, but this one is so long….]

Now that I’ve gone through the candidates, my initial feelings were confirmed. I like both Delaine Eastin (FB) and John Chiang (FB). I’m giving Chiang the edge right now for three reasons. First, he uses a state highway shield as his campaign logo. Second, he has a better chance of breaking through to the top two than Eastin. Third, he’s got more of a Southern California connection.

Now, on to the detailed analysis that led to the above….

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