🎭 The Theatre Carol. No, Not THAT Carol

In the seasonally-appropriate classic A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is haunted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. I, too, am haunted, but by the ghosts of theatre writeups from the past and present… and potentially of the future, if I don’t change things.

I’ve been attending theatre since 1972, when I saw The Rothschilds at the LA Civic Light Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  I didn’t start writing things up until I got my Livejournal account. It started out as a few paragraphs when we would go see a show, as a way of encouraging my friends to go to the shows. Over time, the writeups grew — to the point where they were taking me up to 3 hours to write, and the theatres thought I was a theatre critic and would send me press information.

OK, I’ll admit I was flattered by the last part. But I insisted a wasn’t a critic. Just a theatre lover, writing up things to share with my friends. I had no critical training other than attending shows. I was just a cybersecurity guy who liked live theatre. But the time to write up a show after seeing one was growing. It was a lot of work to link to every artist. I couldn’t think of things to say when I was seeing the same show for the fourth or fifth time (The Sound of Music — I’m looking at you).  Weekends also got crazy, with live theatre almost every weekend; and sometimes two shows on a weekend. It was turning my wife off of performances, and I’ll admit it was tiring trying to keep up.

Then COVID hit. We all stopped attending live performance.

As theatre came back, we started attending shows again.  Our initial position going in was: Subscriptions only. This meant our Center Theatre Group, Broadway in Hollywood, Pasadena Playhouse, 5-Star, and Actors Co-Op subscriptions, plus anything interesting at the Soraya. We didn’t go to fringe. This was our plan throughout 2021 and 2022.

I initially did writeups, but my heart was no longer in it. The effort just got to me.

In 2023, we slowly attended a few more shows. We added some Jewish-themed shows with our Live Theatre Group at our synagogue, which I coordinate. But the write-ups didn’t return.

This brings us to 2024. What am I going to do going forward with respect to theatre and writeups? Here’s the plan:


  • We plan to continue attending theatre. We subscribe at the Ahmanson, Broadway in Hollywood, 5-Star Theatricals, and the Pasadena Playhouse. I’ve dropped Actor’s Co-op down to the “specific show” level — their return has been show, the shows haven’t grabbed me, and their Christological bent has always bothered me. We’ll still keep an eye on them, as we do most intimate theatre in LA, but I still haven’t found a company that equals the late, lamented, Rep East Playhouse. We’ll be adding specific shows we haven’t seen before and are of interest — I know there are two shows we’re planning to see at the Geffen (POTUS and Fat Ham), and we plan to see 3-4 shows from the Canyon Theatre Guild season. I want to add more non-musical comedies and dramas.
  • We plan to add more live musical performance to the mix. My wife is a bit musical-ed out (I know, how can that be?), so we plan to add more jazz and band pieces, as well as dance and some folk artists. Art is important in your life, no matter the form. For example, we have tickets to Gordon Goodwin and the Big Little Phat Band  at the Kavli at coming up.
  • We haven’t decided yet on Fringe. Part of that depends on our COVID comfort level, and part of that depends on our June schedule. Fringe can be exhausting, and Karen may not have the stamina to Fringe.
  • Some shows won’t be “we” but “me”. In other words, if it is something Karen doesn’t want to see, I won’t be dragging her. Some things she might go see alone as well. This will typically apply to shows outside the subscriptions.


  • The writeups, as I did them in the past, probably won’t return. It is a lot of work to do all links to every artist and creative (and it makes Google suspicious of me). Further, I think performers have moved away from the model of having their own websites (although they should) and having FB pages. Now its Instagram this and Tik-tok that and Twitter/X and …. The goal of the linking was to enable people to find artists and connect. I might do it in specific cases.
  • My focus is going to be on observations regarding the story/book, and to highlight specific performances of note. You can use my recent writeups of MJ and A Christmas Story as examples.
  • I reserve the write to skip story analysis, especially for “old chestnuts” that everyone knows but that subscriptions bring us. For example, I know that Peter Pan is upcoming at Broadway in Hollywood, and Sound of Music is on the 5-Star 2024 season. Not much to say about those. Similarly, I may not do a detailed synopsis, but instead may point to one online.
  • The goals of the writeups is to share what I’ve seen, perhaps encourage (or discourage) you from seeing a show, and to share my fun of attending. I don’t want the writeups to feel like a burden.

Lastly, what haven’t I written up. Here’s the theatre we saw since my last summary writeup in May 2023:

  • May 20 | “A New Brain” @ LGBT Center (Celebration). A wonderful intimate production of a show I had heard but never seen. We really enjoyed this.
  • May 27 | “A Soldier’s Play” @ Ahmanson. Deeply moving. A great drama.
  • Jun 10 | “Bernadette Peters in Concert” @ Pasadena Civic (Pasadena Playhouse). For someone her age, a remarkable show. I wish she had done more from Mack and Mabel, but this was a Sondheim Special.
  • Jun 17 | “Tina” @ Pantages / BIH. A biographical jukebox. Strong performances and dance.
  • Jul 1 | “Into the Woods” @ Ahmanson. A spectacular performance, perhaps the best I’ve seen of this Sondheim gem.
  • Jul 15 | “Beetlejuice” @ Pantages / BIH. Quite a fun show, very different than the movie. Enjoyed it quite a bit. No, we didn’t see Lauren Boebert.
  • Jul 22 | “Cinderella” @ 5-Star. Not much to say.
  • Jul 29 | “Stew” @ Pasadena Playhouse. Interesting, but the story had some problems.
  • Aug 6 | “Tevye in New York“. A one-man show, done in a backyard, about the adventures of Tevye after he left Russia. Based directly on the Sholom Aleichem story, not the musical. TAS Live Theatre group.
  • Aug 12 | “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” @ Ahmanson. Side-splittingly hilarious, and Bradley Whitford was remarkable.
  • Aug 19 | “Spongebob Squarepants – The Musical” @ Woodland Opera House. A friend was in this production, so we drove up to Davis for the weekend. I’ve been wanting to see this; it was the first COVID theatre casualty. A wonderful show; see it if you can. Speaking of that, CSUN will be doing Spongebob at the end of April 2024.
  • Sep 9 | “The Sound Inside” @ Pasadena Playhouse. Interesting drama, with an ending I didn’t expect.
  • Oct 14 | “Oliver” @ 5-Star. Sorry to say, but we left after act 1. The show just didn’t grab me; perhaps I wasn’t in the right headspace for it.
  • Nov 4 | “Inherit the Wind” @ Pasadena Playhouse. A strong and very timely production.
  • Nov 11 | “Tom Paxton” @ McCabes. Tom is still one of the best folk singer-songwriters out there. Now with added Don-Juans.
  • Nov 25 | “70 Girls 70” @ Group Rep. A show I’ve been wanting to see forever; the music just makes me happy. Now I can put Boom Diddy Boom in context. But the story is non-sensical. Still, a fun show with fun performances.
  • Dec 16 | “A Christmas Story” @ Ahmanson.
  • Dec 23 | “MJ – The Musical” @ Pantages/BIH

At the present time, January will bring “Kate” at the Pasadena Playhouse, “POTUS” at the Geffen, and “Sukkot” at the Skylight Theatre (The 6th Act). February brings Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet at the Ahmanson, possibly The Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On at Canyon Theatre Guild, and The Wiz at the Pantages/Broadway in Hollywood.



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