🎆🇺🇸 Better Get Them To Sign It In The Next Coupla Days…

Every year I post this on the 4th of July. For all that certain groups purport to know what this country’s founders wanted, I think it is best expressed in the sentiment “life, liberty, and the purſuit of happineſſ”. We still have that, for all the complaints. Even though we have elected officials who make us tear our hair our whenever we read the news, we still have the best system out there — one that allows us to use the power of the ballot box and protest to change things. Lastly, as much as I get annoyed at what those on the other side of the political spectrum say, I am still pleased to live somewhere where they have the right to say it. Happy Independence Day!

But first, however, we rise for the National Anthem:

Rumplemeyer’s Horseshoes
Are the best you can use
What so proudly he nailed
Onto all kinds of horses
Whose broad backs and bright eyes
As they smile in their stalls
Give proof through the night
That they wear Rumplemeyer’s
Ask the horse who owns one
He’ll say, “Son of a gun
Rumplemeyer’s Horseshoes
Are, by me, number one”
That’s Rumplemeyer’s Horseshoes
Spelled R-U-M-P-L-E-Meyer’s
Twenty-seven Chestnut Street
Ask for Harry or Dave

And now, on with our narrative:

Narrator: The trouble continued to brew. It was a time for action, a time for words. On a hot July night in 1776, Benjamin Franklin was aroused from his work by the call of destiny. Read More …

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🗯️ Blowing Things Up 💣

Oh, how I long for the days when the only thing we exploded on the 4th of July were fireworks in a celebration everyone could enjoy.

However, whenever I read the news today, I see this administration blowing up and destroying more than fireworks: they are destroying the norms, values, and protections that have made our country a leader in the world, and that “shining beacon on the hill”. They have allowed and encouraged foreign governments to interfere — directly or indirectly — in our elections. They have allowed administration officials to conduct partisan politics while on the Federal clock, violating the Hatch Act and not caring. They have eviscerated the power of science and facts in government policies. They have manipulated tax laws for their personal gain, and the gain of their cronies. They have ballooned the Federal deficit, again often for personal gain. They have placed industry lobbyists and executives in charge of the industries they are supposed to regulate. They have used bipartisan events for partisan purposes (such as rewarding GOP donors at the supposedly non-partisan 4th celebration). They have befriended dictators and despots, and taken their word over the word of the honest hardworking members of our intelligence communities. They have made consumer protection toothless, and are decimating organizations that protect Americans such as the USDA. They have ignored Congress and Congress’ constitutional role of oversight. They have made explicit efforts to pack the courts with partisan judges. They have attacked social security, medicare, and veterans benefits. They have repeatedly attempted to legislate religious policy as national policy. I could go on and on and on.

I ask myself often: why are they doing this? Yes, it plays to their base that hates government with such a seething anger that it blinds them to the good that government does for them. An angry base does keep people in power — often through violence, threats, and bullying — and these folks like their power.  It also benefits them financially in the short run. But I think, more importantly, it serves the interests of the puppet masters — those foreign powers that influence the election to elect these people. This is because the net, long term, result will be a diminished America. An America that is no longer the primary power on the world stage. An America that no longer has moral authority. An America that no longer has financial strength. An America that is in decline.

Yes, making America great was a smokescreen for something much more sinister.

Even more troubling are the people that are falling for this.  I’ve known many Conservatives over the years; and although we disagreed, I knew that at their hearts they were good people. But today, often their blind support for the administration, and the over-amped hatred of “The Liberal” from the administration and its anger-feeding minions have closed their mind and turned them away from what they once believed. These were people that believed in the rule of law, and that government must follow the laws and be ethical. These were people that believed that government must live within its means and not waste money. These were the people that believed in investigating government wrongdoing, and misbehavior by government officials down to the smallest indiscretion. These were the people that believed that foreign governments must not interfere in the operation of the American government.  These were the people in a party that held for liberty and justice FOR ALL.  But where are those beliefs now? Dead on the field, replaced by hatred and the desire to blow things up.

I find it hard to celebrate Independence Day this year, because I fear that thanks to these folks, the battle could be for nought. I fear that the damage that has been brought on in under three years will take us generations to reverse. I fear that these folks are moving the country in a very dangerous direction, a direction that keep feeding ultra-nationalism and hatred over actual care. I fear that folks who profess to be Christian have forgotten the key fundamentals of the Bible: Love and treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated, take care of the stranger in your land because you were once strangers yourself. Our compassion has been replaced by the quest for wealth and fear of the stranger, and that’s wrong.

I’ve taken a few minutes to write this up over lunch because it has been increasingly bothering me. It is why I have made contributions to those candidates I feel can best bring us out of this mess. It is why I’m encouraging everyone to learn what the candidates have to say, think about the America you truly want — an America that is that example for the world … and who can best bring us there. I’m encouraging everyone to get active and involved, even if you’ve sat out elections before, even if you’ve never voted. We have to combat the might and power of the foreign governments, the oligarchs (both foreign and domestic), and the top 1% who want to preserve their privilege. You need to be out there: whether it is speaking on social media, combating misinformation, getting out the vote, and donating even small amounts to the candidates you like. It all adds up, and we must bring back the days when the only fireworks we have to deal with are on the 4th.

And you better do it before they all take off for the Fourth of July weekend….

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🎭 HFF19 #19/#20: “[Title of Show]” / “Earth to Karen”

userpic=fringeSunday brought the end of the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) and our last two Fringe shows. The first was traditional theatre, ideally suited for a Fringe venue as it started life as a Fringe submission. The second was an example of the wackiness that is Fringe.


[Title of Show] (HFF19)We last saw the musical [Title of Show] just down the street from where we saw it Sunday almost 9 years ago, when Celebration Theatre was still in the space that became the pot shop. Back then, I wrote the following, which still applies (with some slight edits):

One of the things that’s rare on the stage is a truly original musical; that is, a musical that isn’t derived from some previous source material, such as a book, movie, play, or song catalog. If you look on Broadway, a truly original musical is something rare indeed. This review is about an original musical.

Back in 2004, two friends—Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, were trying to come up with an idea to submit to the New York Musical Theatre Festival in three weeks. The idea that they hit upon was something remarkably meta: a show about two guys writing a show about two guys writing a show. In other words: they wrote about themselves writing the show… and the result was “[title of show]”.

The show really does tell the story of its creation. Two Broadway-geeks (Jeff and Hunter) want to submit to the festival, and realize that their playful conversations are more fun than any fictional ideas, so they run with it. They bring in two of their theatre friends (Heidi and Susan) and an orchestrator (Mary), and off they go. The result is a curious mishmash that illustrates the creative and development process from the birth of an idea to the point it reaches Broadway, and along the way numerous popular culture, and even more Broadway show references are thrown around just for fun. Once presented at the festival, the show creation didn’t end, for it was updated to reflect its subsequent life Off-Broadway, on the Internet, finally getting to the point where it was mounted on Broadway (and thus, it contains some songs not on the Off-Broadway Cast Album).

As with any meta-discussion, the show plays on a number of levels. The basic story of its creation is entertaining, although there could have been some tightening in the post-Off-Broadway portions, where it got a bit dark and slow. The continuous barrage of obvious and non-obvious references is entertaining to the theatre-geek like me, but probably totally missed by much of the audience. This show has a bit of a gay theatre vibe, as Jeff and Hunter are gay. Of course, if you’re a straight theatre geek you squirm a bit, especially when they go on about the collection of Playbills and Programs that they have (and yes, I must admit to keeping all my programs as well). The music of the show is quite entertaining and engaging, although only one or two of the songs work well outside of the show: “A Way Back to Then” and “Nine People’s Favorite Thing”. The last song is perhaps the mantra of the show… and perhaps a good mantra for life: “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than 100 people’s ninth favorite thing.”

The book of show is unchanged from the world premere we saw back in August 2010, and so the above still applies. The performance and venue — i.e., as part of a Fringe show, apply better. This is a show that should be done on a shoestring, and this production reflected that. A few chairs. Some cheap props. The actors also seemed well suited to the show. Sean Liang (FB) provided a very schumpy Hunter, which really fit the character better than the buff Hunter of 2010. Frankie Zabilka (FB)’s Jeff was also a very normal guy with a pleasant voice who captured the character well. These really seemed like two friends that could write a show. As for the ladies, Natalie Swanner (FB) was outstanding as Heidi, with a remarkably strong singing voice and great stage presence. Lastly there was Sara Spadacene (⭐FB; FB) as Susan, who was equally strong and sang great. Providing the musical accompaniment (as well as a few lines) was Sandy Chao Wang (FB) as Mary.

Understudies were: Amanda Richards (FB) Susan, Heidi; Devin O’Connell (FB) Jeff, Hunter; Elizabeth Curtin (FBMary.

The production was directed by Dylan Moon (FB); Devin O’Connell (FB) was the stage manager. It was an O’Kelly Campfire Production.

Overall, this was a great production of [Title of Show] that was in the perfect venue: A fringe theatre. Great performance, an always fun story, loads of references for the theatre geeks (who likely already had the show memorized).

As Fringe has ended, there are no more productions of show unless they get an encore extension. Luckily, these show did, and will have one more performance on Fri 7/5 at 9:45pm. Tickets are available through the Fringe website.


Earth to Karen (HFF19)Our last Fringe show, Earth to Karenwas a very Fringy show. Remember the story, back in 2007, of the astronaut Lisa Nowak? For those that don’t, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Immediately following [fellow astronaut’s] William Oefelein’s divorce, he and Lisa Nowak became involved with each other. Their affair lasted two years, with Oefelein beginning to break it off gradually near the end of 2006. It was during this time that Oefelein started a relationship with Colleen Shipman, who was working as an engineer with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando, Florida, on February 4–5, 2007. She packed latex gloves, a black wig, a BB pistol and ammunition, pepper spray, a hooded tan trench coat, a 2-pound (0.91 kg) drilling hammer, black gloves, rubber tubing, plastic garbage bags, approximately $585 in cash, her computer, an 8-inch (200 mm) Gerber folding knife and several other items before driving the 900 miles (1,400 km) to Florida. Early police reports indicated she wore Maximum Absorbency Garments during the trip, but she later denied wearing them.

Yes, the infamous diaper astronaut.

As author Zachary Bernstein (FB) , Nowak (renamed to Karen Spitz) is trying to recover her life in Houston after the infamous event. She’s reduced to applying for work at Subway as a Sandwich Artist, but is still living with her sister. But Subway, she learns, is just hiring her so they can trade off her notoriety.  But with no better choices, she accepts. There she meets Chet, a fellow sandwich artist. He has a special interest in baloney, and wants to open a sandwich shop that specializes in only baloney sandwiches. She agrees to help him. But when her sister, Alice, discovers that Chet is heir to a baloney fortune, she decides to sink her teeth into him. And the rest… is a musical.

Yes, it is as silly as it sounds. The story was a clever idea stretched to a Fringe show. The music, also by Zachary Bernstein (FB), is entertaining but not particularly memorable afterwards. It is an entertaining show, but very much something that [Title to Show] refers to as “Donuts for Dinner”: It sounds like a great idea, but you’re still hungry for nutrition afterwards.

The performances were strong, in particular Dagney Kerr (⭐FB) as Karen. She had a great singing voice and a very funny personality that kept the entertainment together. Also strong was Matthew Bohrer (FB) as Chet. Supporting these two in multiple roles were Rebecca Larsen (FB) Alice / Tracy and Lauren Van Kurin (FB) as Jen / F.C. / Dutch. Music was provided by an on-stage band consisting of Eric Radoux (FBBass; Gordon Wimpress (⭐FB) Guitar; and Zachary Bernstein (FB) Drums.

The production was choreographed by Sarah M. Kruger (⭐FB, FB), and directed by Guy Picot (FB). Jim Pierce (FB) was the Graphic Designer. There was no credit for the stage manager.

This was a cute and entertaining show, but doesn’t really have a life beyond Fringe. It is, essentially, an extended musical comedy sketch without significant depth. Donuts for dinner, as it were.

Although the Fringe Festival has ended, the show has received a one performance Fringe extension on Sun 7/7 at 5:00PM. Visit the Fringe website for tickets.

🎭

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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). 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 Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], the Soraya/VPAC (FB), and the Musical Theatre Guild (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 is calm, as we recover from Fringe. The second weekend of July brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road and As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB). In between those points, August is mostly open.

Early September is also mostly open. Then things heat up, with the third weekend bringing Barnum at Musical Theatre Guild (FB), and the fourth weekend bringing Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). October starts with The Mystery of Irma Vep at Actors Co-op (FB), and concludes with Mandy Gonzalez at the Soraya/VPAC (FB).  Yes, there are a lot of open dates in there, but I expect that they will fill in as time goes on.

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. 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. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19 #16, #17, #18: “Shakedown at the Dusty Spur” / “Time Traveler’s Guide” / Wigfield

userpic=fringeThe penultimate day of the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) (I do like that word). Three shows, that again show the breadth of Fringe. From clowns playing around on a stage, to an inscrutable one-person show, and finally a well-realized new adaptation of a book. This is Fringe in the full range of strange and glory.


Four Clowns Presents: Shakedown at the Dusty SpurMany years ago we saw an intriguing production of Hamlet, done by the Four Clowns theatre company. Now, when you think clowns, do think of clowns in the noun form, ala Bozo or Chuckles or those numerous TV hosts. Think clown as the verb: people who revel in clowning around and having fun, and you have the basis of Four Clowns. This is an extremely inventive company that like to have fun with everything. You need to like their style (I do), and be in the right mood to be receptive for it (I always am, my wife wasn’t).

So when we learned that Four Clowns was doing a show at Fringe, we were in. Our first show Saturday was that Four Clowns show: Four Clowns Present: Shakedown at the Dusty Spur.

The basic outline of Four Clowns Present: Shakedown at the Dusty Spur is simple, and almost borders on the melodramatic: Papa Maynard has died, and has left the Dusty Spur Saloon to his eldest and only son, Ike Maynard, bypassing the smarter older daughter Marybeth, and leaving only a little to the youngest daughter Maybelline. The villains, Dallas Devereaux and his assistant Logan Lesserman, plot to get the saloon so they can burn it to the ground and fulfill a promise. They do this by swindling Ike, so the children arrange to get “the good buy” Colt “The Corpse” McCoy to fight their battle. But he lives up to his name, and they need to figure out what to do next to get their bar back.

There was plenty of audience participation (if you don’t like that stuff, don’t sit in the first row). There was loads of improvising. The general attitude was that of fun and improvisation — clowning around, as one might say.

Under the direction of Joe DeSoto (FB), artistic director of Four Clowns, all of the performances were strong. The cast consisted of Tommy Fleming (FBDallas Devereaux; Turner Frankosky Ike Maynard; Elisabeth Hower Marybeth Maynard; Benji Kaufman (FBLogan Lesserman; Liz Morgan (FBMaybelline Maynard; and Jason Poston (FBColt “The Corpse” McCoy. Of these, my favorites were Kaufman and Morgan, who were quite a lot of fun to watch.

Other production credits: Harim Sanchez (FBAsst. Director / Stage Manager; Jax Ball (FBSet Design; Aaron Lyons Sound Design; Erin Colleran (FBCostume Design; Sam Schweikert (FBPoster Design. A whole bunch of people contributed to the script, including most of the cast. Produced by Joe DeSoto (FB), Julia Davis (FB), and Harim Sanchez (FB).

As the official Fringe Festival has ended, you’ll need to check the Fringe Website to see if the show has been extended. Currently, it looks like there are two extension performances: Fri 7/5 at 9pm, and Sun 7/7 at 10:30pm. I found this to be a really funny somewhat improvised show, with lots of clowning around. Depending on your love of clowning (independent of the traditional notion of clowns), YMMV.


Time Travelers Guide to the Present (HFF19)The second show we saw on Saturday was A Time Travelers Guide to the Present. This show held such promise. The show description was:

With humanity’s fate on the line, a secret society of astronomers recruits volunteers for the world’s first time travel flight. We follow one traveler as he is catapulted on a journey through the cosmos. What begins as exploration of the mechanics of spacetime travel turns into a desperate hunt for connection. This is a one man show that mixes science, sci-fi, music, and storytelling to explore what it means to be worthy of love.

The show, which was written, performed, produced, and composed by Doug Harvey (FB), turned out to be a bit more incomprehensible. A message is received from the future, and so someone is recruited to go forward in time to stop it. Our intrepid hero is the selectee, and what then follows is the mission, with lots of time travel back and forth, reminiscent of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and about at times as incomprehensible.

On the positive side, the music was great and relaxing.

The production was directed by Jake Elitzer (FB), and Rebecca Schoenberg (FB) was the Production Stage Manager. Other producers were Annie Chang (FB) and Kristina Mueller (FB). Poster art by Estevan Guzman (FB).

As the official Fringe Festival has ended, you’ll need to check the Fringe Website to see if there are any extensions. Right now, there are none shown. We found the show confusing, but the music was great.


Wigfield (HFF19)The last show we saw on Saturday was one of the best and most humorous shows of all the shows we saw. It was Wigfield, adapted by Pamela Eberhardt (FB) from the satirical novel Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not written by Amy Sedaris (FB), Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert. The best description I found of the novel was from this site:

Wigfield (officially known as “Proposed Super Fund Site 554”) is an ephemeral hodgepodge of shanties, porno shops, strip clubs, and used auto parts yards. When a state politician, Representative William J. Farber, proposes the demolition of the Senator Alfonse T. Bulkwaller Memorial Dam (constructed in 1931), Wigfield is faced with destruction. The dam is located just up Fresh Springs Creek from this sleepy little, glow-in-the-dark, Podunk burg and it’s the only thing keeping Wigfield from becoming a part of the creek.

In order to prevent the dam’s removal, the residents will have to prove that they’re not just a bunch of itinerant squatters and that Wigfield is indeed an actual town. Fortunately for them, “journalist” Russell Hokes arrives in “town” to get material for a book he’s supposed to be writing about the “brave lives of small-town residents… that celebrates what is best in America by showing the indomitable human spirit in times of crisis”. Hokes unwittingly ends up chronicling the Wigfield citizenry’s last days of living life as they’d known it for so long. He also learns a lot about life, love, and the ecdysiastic arts.

The stage version, as written by Eberhardt, sticks with this pretty closely. We meet Hokes at the beginning, as he gets an advance to chronicle a small town. He discovers Wigfield, and the game (and strangeness) is on. We meet the town inhabitants, each stranger and more off-beat than the next, and begin to learn of the dilemma … and the game, for the notion seems to be that if they can become a town, then they can get relocation payments due to eminent domain. But the resolution becomes more of a “be careful what you wish for”.

In the end, this becomes a cleverly disguised commentary on the weirdness of small towns and how they accept the off-beat; the whole process of eminent domain, and finally, the idiocy of FEMA.

I found the production extremely funny and extremely well done. I originally went to see it because we knew someone in the cast from our days subscribing at REP East in Santa Clarita. I left thoroughly entertained.

The cast consisted of: Joe Hernandez-Kolski (⭐FB; FB) Player A / Hollinger; Pam Quinn (FBPlayer B / Cinnamon / Prune; Connor Pratt (FBPlayer C / Dillard / Julian; Eric Curtis Johnson (FBPlayer D / Udell / Sawyer; Heather Marie Roberts (FBPlayer E / Eleanore / Lenare; Meghan Parks (FBPlayer F / Hoyt / Dottie; Bedjou Jean (FBPlayer G / Farber / Raven; Emily Clark (FBPlayer H / Mae Ella / Carla / Judge; Jeff Scot Carey (FBPlayer I / Donnie / Halstead; and Scott Golden (FBRussell Hokes. All were strong. I particularly liked the warm that Golden had, but each was great in their own wacky way.

Understudies were: Jarad Kopciak (FBPlayer D / Udell / Sawyer on June 23/30; Pam Quinn (FB) Player E / Eleanore / Lenare on June 30; and Henry Kaiser (FBPlayer I / Donnie / Halstead on June 22.

The production staff included: Arlo Sanders (FBDirector, Lighting Design; John Reza Allison Executive Producer. It was produced by The Unknown Artists (FB) and Ruckus Rockwell (FB).

As the official Fringe Festival has ended, you’ll need to check the Fringe Website to see if there are any extensions. Right now, there are none shown.

🎭

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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). 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 Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (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:

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road and As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB). In between those points, August is mostly open.

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. 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. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🛣️ Headlines About California Highways – June 2019

Yes, I have been doing something other than the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) during June. I’ve been collecting highway headlines, as always. I’ll note that the current plan is to start work on the next round of updates to the highway pages on 7/4/2019; I’m not sure how long it will take. Until then, as we say, ready, set, discuss.

💲🧱 indicates an extremely restrictive paywall, one impervious to incognito browsing. 💲🕶 indicates a paywall for which incognito browsing works.

  • Idyllwild Businesses Suffer As Highways 74, 243 To Remain Closed All Summer. Two major arteries into the San Jacinto Mountains community of Idyllwild will likely remain shut down all summer due to ongoing stormy weather which has prevented repair work to move forward. Highway 243 and Highway 74 have been shut down since February after historic rains washed away large portions of both roadways.
  • Caltrans to Begin $731,000 SB 1 Culvert Replacement Project on State Route 108 in Tuolumne County. Drainage Project to Provide Safer, More Comfortable Ride for Tourists, Residents and Big Rigs. Next week, Caltrans will begin work to replace four culverts on rural State Route 108 in the Sierra Nevada. The $731,000 project is funded through Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The six-month project will replace a culvert near Donnell Lake and three others by the Tuolumne/Mono County line. The work will improve Caltrans’ ability to safely and efficiently transport water and debris away from the highway to minimize flooding and provide more comfortable trips for travelers. “Highway 108 is a popular route for spring and summer travelers who want to explore the mountains,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “By supporting tourism, we strengthen California’s economy as well as the quality of life in many small towns and communities.”
  • The slow climb for State Route 60: all signs show start in June. Construction has begun this week on two truck lanes that will widen four-and-a-half miles of State Route 60, between Gilman Springs Road and Jack Rabbit Trail. Cheryl Donahue, public affairs manager for the Riverside County Transportation Commission, and construction manager Bryce Johnston gave a presentation about the project at the May 21 Beaumont city council meeting. The project will include construction of an eastbound truck climbing lane and a westbound truck descending lane that will be 11 feet on the interior shoulder and 12 feet on the outside shoulder.
  • Hardest cycling climbs. Useful Tool for inclines on state highways.
  • Heads up: Construction of 3 Napa roundabouts ready to start. Construction of three planned roundabouts along a heavily traveled couple of blocks west of downtown Napa should begin in earnest next week, launching months of roadwork-related traffic shifts. Transportation officials during a Monday ceremony broke ground on what will be roundabouts at First Street/Highway 29, First Street/California Boulevard and California Boulevard/Second Street.

Read More …

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🎭 At a Loss for Words | “Indecent” @ Ahmanson Theatre

Indecent (Ahmanson)Over the last few weeks, a large number of my friends have seen the play with music Indecent at  the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and have raved about the show. They’ve been telling me to see it. Unfortunately, my season tickets were the penultimate Friday of the run (yet another reason we’re not renewing — the Ahmanson isn’t as friendly as the Pantages on adjusting those things or having seats available), and we just hadn’t seen it yet.

We saw it Friday night, and I’m at a loss for words.

Literally.

I was so caught up in this story, and how it was told, and the beauty of it. I was so caught up in the Yiddish theatre, and the current resurgence of Yiddish in our society (which our daughter will help, in no small part). I was so caught up in the sadness of the story, the sadness of the times, the sadness of the circumstances. And I was so caught up in the inspiration that led to the return of this show to the stage that … well, I’m at a loss for words. I have nothing to compare this to. All I can say is: If you can make it for the last week at the Ahmanson, do so. If this comes to your town, go see it. It is as simple as that.

Indecent tells the story of the play God of Vengence, written by Scholem Asch around 1907. The play was notorious for featuring a lesbian kiss, prostitutes, a brothel, and an implied desecration of the Torah. The Yiddish theatre at the time though the play might be seen as antisemitic for portraying Jews in a less-than-positive light. But Asch persevered and got the play produced: first touring around Eastern and the Western Europe, and finally, the troupe came to America. In America the play was find as long as it was running in smaller off-Broadway theatres. But when it came to Broadway, American Jews protested the obscenity they thought was there, and had the actors arrested on obscenity charges on opening night.

The remainder of the play picks up the story from there. It shows the PTSD that Asch felt after seeing what was happening to Jews in Europe in the 1930s. It shows the trial, and the results. It shows the troupe returning to perform the play in Europe, and even performing the play in the Warsaw ghetto. And it shows what invariably happened to the troupe. Lastly, it shows the attempts to revive the play in the 1950s.

All of this is done with a rotating troupe of actors and musicians playing all sorts of different characters, from the actors, to the authors, to the Yiddish intelligentsia of the time. It is supported by English and Yiddish subtitles, often indicating when characters would be speaking in Yiddish or English. It made numerous use of “A blink in time” to move time forward.

Was there a protagonist who was changed by this story? Arguably, Asch. Arguably, Lemmi, the stage manager. But arguably the entire troupe was changed in various ways because of the play.

Was there a point being made by this presentation and history lesson? Perhaps that the ideas we think are new really aren’t. Perhaps that we’ve attempted to censor theatre, but truth will out. Perhaps that nowhere is safe from the scourge of antisemitism, and perhaps the goyim only tolerate the Jewish world when we are acting safe and non-threatening. But threaten their Christian order and values, and face the consequences. Indeed, a survey out this week show that 20% of Americas still think it is acceptable to not serve Jews. Twenty percent! Is the antisemitism that Asch and his troupe faced gone from the world? Have we really learned anything?

This particular play came about when the playwright, Paula Vogel was at Cornell, and in the process of coming out, and her professor pointed her to the play. Twenty years later, the director Rebecca Taichman (FB) was at Yale, reading God of Vengence, when she gets the idea to stage the 1923 obscenity trial as her directing thesis.  The met, the ideas merged, and we have what we have on stage.

Unsurprisingly, given her history with this play, the direction by Rebecca Taichman (FB) was outstanding. Actors moved between characters and characterizations seemlessly, reactions seemed believable, and it just drew your attention. Choreography was by David Dorfman (⭐FB).

Given the nature of this show, particular actors (and the musicians, for the musicians also acted) are difficult to single out as the entire ensemble was strong. The acting team consisted of: Richard Topol (FB) Lemmi, the Stage Manager; Elizabeth A. Davis (⭐FB) Actor; Joby Earle (⭐FB; FB) Actor; Harry Groener (⭐FB) Actor; Mimi Lieber (⭐FB; FB) Actor; Steven Rattazzi Actor; Adina Verson (FBActor; Matt Darriau (⭐FB; FB) Musician: (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tin Whistle); Patrick Farrell Musician: (Accordion, Baritone Ukulele, Percussion); and Lisa Gutkin (⭐FB) Musician: (Violin, Mandolin, Percussion).

Understudies were: Ben Cherry (FBfor Mr.(s) Earle, Groener, Rattazzi, Topol; Lisa Ermel (FBfor Ms.(s) Davis, Verson; Valerie Perri (FBfor Ms. Lieber; Leo Chelyapov (FBfor Mr. Darriau; Janice Mautner Markham (FBfor Ms. Gutkin; and Isaac Schankler (FBfor Mr. Farrell.

Robert Payne was the Orchestra Contractor. The show featured a score and original music by Lisa Gutkin (⭐FB) and Aaron Halva (FB). Lisa Gutkin (⭐FB) was music supervisor.

Turning to the production and creative side: Riccardo Hernandez‘s scenic design was relatively simple: a platform some chairs, tables, and other accouterments of a travelling troupe. It was augmented to some extent by the projection design of Tal Yarden (FB), which provided context for the scene, as well as Yiddish (or Yiddish translateration) subtitles. Also supporting was Emily Rebholz (FB)’s costume design and J. Jared Janas and Dave Bova זיל (⭐FB)’s hair and wig design.  Christopher Akerlind‘s lighting was effective on establishing the mood, Matt Hubbs sound design blended into the background. Other production credits: Rick Sordelet (FBFight Direction; Joby Earle (⭐FB; FBFight Captain; Ashley Brooke Monroe (FBAsst. Director; Sara Gibbons (FBAssoc. Choreographer; Adina Verson (FBDance Captain; Tara Rubin (⭐FB) Original Casting; Alaine Alldaffer Boston Casting; Michael Donovan CSA Los Angeles Casting; Amanda Spooner (FBProduction Stage Manager; Emily F. McMullen (FBStage Manager.

Indecent continues at  the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) through July 7. Tickets are available through the Ahmanson box office. It does not appear to be on Goldstar, but does appear to be on TodayTix.  Go see it.

🎭

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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). 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 Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (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:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) is almost over. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road and As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB). In between those points, August is mostly open.

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. 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. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19 #14/#15: “Chrysalis” / “Public Domain: The Musical”

userpic=fringeWith the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), you see a lot of shows. On top of the four shows (#10, #11, #12, #13) we saw on Saturday, we saw two more on Sunday. These shows continued the trend of Saturday, demonstrating the breadth of the types of shows you see at Fringe, as well as the varied reasons shows are put on. This time, what we had was a wonderful piece of performance art, and a real typical Fringe music, where the authors ask “What if?”, and then run with it.


Chrysalis (HFF19)Chrysalis was an interesting piece. I was invited to the show by one of the producers, and I had no idea what to expect. The description was intriguing, and a bit inscrutable:

A deep exploration of the transitory state of life from a femme-identifying perspective. Self-written, self-thought, self-taught… Chrysalis showcases a collection of personal journeys through the different phases of self growth, and discovery. “She emerged from the chrysalis of self-conscious adolescence”

What Chrysalis turned out to be was what I could best characterize as a performance art piece: it was a collection of women sharing their personal stories of how they moved through the cocoon of adolescence and young adulthood to come out the other end with their own sense of self. The stories varied widely, from a woman who dealt with Plan B at Oral Roberts, to someone who traveled the world to find themselves, to families remembering recipes,  to … well, I can’t remember them all.  There was humor; there was sadness; there were stories; there was poetry. There was even a little song.

I also don’t feel qualified to assess the content of the piece, other than to say that I found it enlightening and entertaining. I was transfixed listening to the stories, and watching the faces and the bodies as the stories were expressed not only through words but through motion. But I am a guy, and a white guy at that. There were simply experiences in these stories that I could only empathize with from the outside; I could not assess the experience. So I’ll do what any smart guy does: turns to his wife. The following is her assessment:

It’s hard to sum up this piece, because many of the stories left me shell-shocked, and close to tears…In some ways,  I was sad that not much has changed over the last 30 to 40 years in the treatment of young women by those around them. The stories they were telling were way too similar to my stories (and my friends’ stories) of surviving the 1970’s. The difference is that these women found their way through to the other side, and found the freedom that comes with getting through to the other side.

The stories and the performers were: Kym Allen (FB) — “A Love Story;  Clare Almand (FB) — “Feelings“; Chasten Harmon (⭐FB) — “Chrysalis“;  Khyelle Anthony (FB) — “A Message from Your Higher Self“; Cat Davidson (FB) — “You“; Diane Gaeta (FB) — “Fever Dream or Divorce“; Megan Hendricks (FB) — “Living the Dre(NIGHTMARE)am” and “Hallmark Magic“; Jana Krumholtz (FB) — “Eclipse“; Amanda Mercedes (FB) — “Plan B“; Marley Ralph (FB) — “Intuition“; Dolores Reynals (FB) — “Landing“; and Kelsey Scott (FB) — “Recipe“.

The production was directed by Sara Tomko (⭐FB), with tech by Sara Tomko (⭐FB) and Kevin Keppy (FB). It was produced by Kym Allen (FB), Clare Almand (FB), and Chasten Harmon (⭐FB).

Overall, I found this a very moving and touching performance — and I’m sure it would have been even more meaningful were I, shall I say, in closer alignment :-). My wife found it extremely meaningful. I think we both highly recommend it. There are two more performances: Thu 6/27 @ 700pm and Sat 6/29 @ 230pm. Tickets are available through the Fringe website.


Public Domain - The Musical (HFF19)Our last show on Sunday, Public Domain: The Musical, was — in a sense — a perfect Fringe show.  It was clear that someone was sitting around going: what could we do at Fringe for fun. I have an idea. Let’s do a musical, but to avoid copyright and having to license a property, let’s do what D***** does: find a public domain property and milk the hell out of it. Hey, why not have public domain characters audition for a space in our musical! Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Out of less was a show born.

And so Sam Pasternack (FB) got busy. He wrote words. He wrote music. He wrote lyrics. He held auditions. The result was a a really cute Fringe show.

The basic conceit of the show: Two industry professionals (played by puppets) are holding auditions for a new public domain character to star in a story. A wide variety of characters audition: Rosie the Riveter, The Pea from Princess and the Pea, Potato Mussolini, the Monkey’s Paw, Oedipus. But in the end, they find their star at home.

The songs are all cute, but at times tastelessly cute. The performances are mixed, but your mileage may vary as the show is double cast. But you will be entertained, and in and out quick.

The cast of the show was as follows (the performers we saw are indicated with ⁂): ⁂ Codi Coates (FB) / Erika Cruz (FB) Rosie; Ember Everett (FB) / ⁂ Nathalia Coppa (FB) PeaKayley Stallings (FB) / ⁂ Erika Cruz (FB) Princess; Alyssa Sabo (⭐FB) / ⁂ Ben Cassil (FBPotato Mussolini; Spencer Frankenberger (FB) / ⁂ Max Ash  The Monkey’s Paw; Oliver Rotunno (⭐FB; FB) / ⁂ Max Mahle (FBOedipus; Sam Pasternack (FB) / ⁂ Michael Kraus and Max Mahle (FB) / ⁂ Sam Pasternack (FB)The Two Producers; Ember Everett (FB) / ⁂ Evelyn-Rose Whitlock (FBMargaret.

Turning to the production side: Ember Everett (FB) designed the clever costumes. There is no credit for the puppets. Isaac Alter provided music direction and orchestrations. The production was produced by Sam Pasternack (FB), Jason Merrin (FB), and Rachel Liu (FB).

There are two more performances of Public Domain: The Musical: Sat 6/28 at 230pm and 330pm. It’s a really cute show and a clever Fringe musical.

🎭

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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). 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 Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (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:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road and As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB). In between those points, August is mostly open.

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. 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. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19 #12/#13: “A Night Out” / “Neighborhood Watch”

userpic=fringeThe second set of shows we saw Saturday, as I noted before, also demonstrate the reasons why someone produces a show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB). Again, we had a larger-cast drama (A Night Out) and a one-woman show (Neighborhood Watch) . But there were difference this time. The ensemble drama wasn’t new: it was an established play from 1951, being presented to showcase a set of actors from the LACC Theatre Academy. The one-woman show wasn’t an established scripts, but a one-woman comedy telling stories about a neighborhood and its problems.


A Night Out (HFF19)The third show of the evening was A Night Out, which is an early (1959) less produced play by Harold Pinter. We went to see it because we knew someone in the cast from our days subscribing at the late, great, Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clarita.

A Night Out is a strange play. Wikipedia summarizes it thusly:

Albert Stokes, a loner in his late twenties lives with his emotionally suffocating mother and works in an office. After being falsely accused of groping a female at an office party, he wanders the streets until he meets a girl, who invites him to her flat, where he responds to her overtures by angrily demeaning her. Then he returns home to his mother.

Another summary I found captures the play a bit better: Alburt Stokes is not only henpecked by his mother, but by his friends. Even though he disdains interest in women, his friends push them on him as a joke. Even though it wasn’t he who groped the woman, his boss believed the accusation. When he gets called a Mother’s Boy, the rage within him outs, and keeps coming out to the end of the play.

That’s the story. But what’s the underlying point of the play? That’s much harder, and I think the answer is different  60 years later from when this play was first done. Back in 1959, the teasing and bullying was normal, and I think the focus was on the impact of the demented mother. But today?  You have a man who is not interested in girls — or boys for that matter — being pressured for it. In the closet asexual? Gay? Those wouldn’t have been notions in the 1960s. Then there’s the groping, which comes across totally different in the #metoo era than it would in 1959. There’s the whole issue of false accusations (Mr. Ryan clearly did the touching), and the reaction of people to it. Then there’s the behavior of the mother, who in the 1960s would appear to be the henpecker, but today seems to be clearly dealing with dementia and potential Alzheimers, and is just grasping for normalcy, a standard rhythm, and a pattern in life.

Today, this play would be reconsidered, and possibly have those points explored more. But for now, this is just slightly comprehensible early Pinter.

What makes this play standout are the performances, under the direction of Sam Grey (FB), assisted by Michael Macrae (FB). In the lead positions are Georgan George (⭐FB) as Mother, and Troy Rossi (FB) as Albert. We’ve known and seen George for years going back to when we first met her at REP. She’s grown as an actress, and was simply steller in this production, capturing the dementia and the tenderness of the character well, as well as those glimpses of something more. Rossi was very strong as Albert, presenting a wonderful simmering rage under the surface; an anger that just kept growing as people kept pushing and prodding at him. Both were mesmerizing to watch.

As The Girl (also Betty), Amy Kersten (FB) did a great job of portraying the British girl who was just looking for fun, and got more than she expected.

The remainder of the cast had much smaller roles, or selected point interactions. They were all strong, but didn’t have the time to establish lasting characterizations that stuck with you: Sam Grey (FBSeeley; Tyler Smith (FBKedge; Oliver Boon Barman/Horne; Simon James Mr. King; Christelle Baguidy (FBJoyce; Bree Wernicke (FBEileen; Cyrus Palizban (FBGidney; and Michael Macrae (FBBarrow.

There are no credits given for scenic, sound, lighting, etc. The only production credits in the program are Jesse Fiene Stage Manager; and Crescent Hurley Asst. Stage Manager.

If I had one suggestion to make for this show, it would be this: Support your acting team. Find the space to duplicate a full page, double-sided program with short bios, even if it is black and white. Get all your actors to have profiles on the Fringe website, and have them linked on the show pages. Create a page for the show — even a free wordpress site — that has links to the pages on the actors. You’re not doing this show to sell an established play, but to sell and promote the acting talent in the play. Those people who like the talent need to be able to find them again.

A Night Out has two more performances: Fri 6/28 at 630pm and Sat 6/29 at 1030p. The story may be a bit incomprehensible (but, hey, this is Pinter), but the acting is top-notch and the show is worth seeing and trying to figure out. The show just needs to promote the wonderful actors better. Tickets are available through the show’s Fringe website.


Neighborhood Watch (HFF19)The last show we saw on Saturday was another one-woman show: Neighborhood Watch, written and performed by Lisa Pedace (FB). When I was first contacted about this show, I thought it would be something along the lines of Town Brawl, which we saw last week. Perhaps it started that way, but that’s not where it ended up.

Neighborhood Watch is ostensibly about a woman decrying the changes that have happened in her tract home neighborhood of almost 30 years. As President of her Neighborhood Watch, she’s seen the neighborhood changes from a community of like-minded people concerned about each other, to a neighborhood that only cares about itself: from the half-dog half-horse leaving turds on her lawn, the airbnb, the renters, and the people that just don’t care.

So far, so much Next Door territory.

But the story takes a sharp turn to the weird when the chickens move in. And when she starts recording them on her phone, and then starts playing them backwards to find hidden messages … you begin to wonder whether it is the neighborhood that has turned weird, or whether someone else has gone off the deep end.

Overall, the show is a great mix of humor and the weird. It holds your attention throughout, and is really fun to watch. Plus, they sell spices in conjunction with the show. It’s a long story. You’ll need to go to the show to see it, but I understand that the special spice is great on Chicken.

There are no other production credits given, and there were no programs handed out.

There are two more performances of Neighborhood Watch: Sat 6/29 at 300pm, and Sun 6/30 at 530pm. It’s a funny show, and worth seeing. Haven’t tried the spices yet. TIckets are available through the Fringe website.

🎭

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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). 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 Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (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:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

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. 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. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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