🎭 Nostalgia is a Funny Thing | “Wonderettes/Dream On” @ Canyon Theatre Guild

The Marvelous Wonderettes - Dream On (Canyon Theatre Guild)Roger Bean has made an industry out of nostalgia. In a series of “off-broadway” level musicals (i.e., musicals designed for a smaller cast, fewer sets, and more intimate venues), he had built upon a desire to look back on what were perceived as simpler times viewed through the haze of nostalgia. Examples include The Andrews Brothers (which we saw back in 2010 at Cabrillo/5-Star), Life Could Be a Dream (which we saw at the Hudson Mainstage back in 2009), and The Marvelous Wonderettes (which we saw back in 2006 at the El Portal).  This type of show has a musical lineage stretching back to Forever Plaid (which we first saw back in 1991 at the Pasadena Playhouse, and then again in 2006 at Cabrillo, and again in 2014 at Cabrillo). And, just like with Plaid and the follow-on Plaid shows, Bean has found a forumula that works, crafting multiple follow-ons to the Wonderettes line: The Marvelous Wonderettes – Cap and Gowns,  and The Marvelous Wonderettes – Dream On. This last show has made its way to Santa Clarita, and is currently being presented by the Canyon Theatre Guild.

Dream On continues the story of the Wonderettes, who we first meet at 1958 at their graduation. This musical places them at a teacher’s retirement celebration in 1969, and a 20th class regionin in 1978. This allows the show to revisit the music of the late 1960s and the 1970s. Those dates are interesting, when viewed from the present day (2024). I’ve written about this before, but you’re talking a 66 year difference to 1958; 55 years to 1969; and 46 years to 1978. If you think about it, that’s like someone in the mid 1970s being nostalgic for the music of the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. The 50s first started being popular in the late 1970s, the difference was less — perhaps 30 years. That would mean right now, the “kids” should be nostalgic for the late 1990s. Actually, that’s starting, and the recent musical MJ, just at the Pantages, is an example of that. Classic rock stations have already shifted their time window to the right. I wonder how long the music of the Wonderette’s series will be popular, and how long audiences will still understand the references. This may not bode well for musicals like Grease.

One more quick note about the 1950 through 1970s. This period is often viewed through rose-colored glasses, often created by TV sitcoms or filtered remembrances of childhood. It is viewed as a simpler and better time, when streets were safe, and it was a white bread world. Emphasis on the white. That, of course, isn’t true when you look at the reality. There were race riots and financial strife, and life for many wasn’t what is portrayed in the media. But the rosy view of memory is strong, and certain politicians these days try to take advantage of it, without recognizing the positive ways our society has improved. Enough of that soapbox, but for those interested, I’ll refer folks to my ballot recommendations for the upcoming California March Primary election. You can make a difference to keep us moving forward by voting. In terms of this show, there are just mere hints of the changes that were coming, mostly in terms of the emerging women’s movement of the late 1970s.

The show itself was very entertaining, with a strong mixture of songs from the late 1960s and 1970s. The songs were less the rock of the era (nary a Beatles tune in the mix), but more the ones for which girl-group harmony was a good fit. Less Rolling Stones, more Fifth Dimension, if you get my drift. The story was the tried-and-true Wonderettes’ story of what is happening in their lives and loves, with the usual intergroup sniping. It is here that you see the work involved in writing, and how the book writer had to make the story fit the names in the songs (as such, the “Mr. Lee” and “Johnny” referenced as husbands/boyfriends harkens back to the mothership production, and the songs in that show that referenced a Mr. Lee and a Johnny as love interest. There are a few additional such fittings in this show, such as a reference to “angel face”.

One of the best parts of the show was the audience participation. At various points in the show, audience members are brought (unsuspectingly) to the stage as characters in the show; notably Miss McPherson in the first act. Some play along; some don’t. Our McPherson was more shocked than taking on the role of a teacher, but it was interesting to watch her reaction. There were similar events in the second half. Notably, they tried to recruit me to be the father-in-law of one of the characters. I declined; it was a good thing because they then had the character dance The Hustle on stage. I didn’t dance the Hustle when it was popular in the 1970s; don’t expect me to do it now! Still, the audience interaction was well played and hilarious.

The performances from the four ladies forming the Wonderettes were very strong. I was particularly impressed by Kelly Miyake Cindy Lou Huffington and Zoë Bryant Betty Jean Reynolds, who were both really strong singers. It was also great to see Jill Scott again; we haven’t seen her since 2014 and the days of Rep East Playhouse (they closed in 2015; the space is now The Main). But all the singers were great. If there was one shortcoming, it was the use of recorded music. However, that was understandable—CTG is a community theatre, and live orchestras are expensive in Southern California. The show was directed by another RepEast alumna, Leslie Berra, who flew in from all the work she does in Nashville TN. She did a great job of bringing out the individual characterizations well.

The Marvelous Wonderettes — Dream On. Written and Created by Roger Bean. Vocal and Musical Arrangements by Michael Borth. Cast: Zoë Bryant Betty Jean Reynolds, Kelly Miyake Cindy Lou Huffington, Jill Scott Missy Lee, Sarah Stoddard Suzy Stevens. Production and Creative Team: Leslie Berra Director; Nancy Alterman Choreography; Mo Davis Asst. Director; Ingrid Boydston Addl Choreography; Leslie Berra Vocal Direction; John Alexopolous Co-Set Designer; Douglas Holiday Co-Set Designer; Scarlett Lang Lighting Designer; Leslie Berra Costume Design; Maria Falasca Costume Assistant; Michael T. Smith Lighting Designer Mentor; Mo Davis Stage Manager.

The Marvelous Wonderettes — Dream On continues at Canyon Theatre Guild through Feb. 24. Tickets are available through the CTG Website; they may be available through discount sites such as Goldstar or TodayTix.

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Administrivia: I am not a professional critic. I’m a cybersecurity professional, a roadgeek who does a highway site and a podcast about California Highways, and someone who loves live performance. I buy all my own tickets, unless explicitly noted otherwise. I do these writeups to share my thoughts on shows with my friends and the community. I encourage you to go to your local theatres and support them (ideally, by purchasing full price tickets, if you can afford to do so). We currently subscribe or have memberships at: Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson TheatreBroadway in Hollywood/Pantages TheatrePasadena PlayhouseGeffen Playhouse (Mini-Subscription); 5-Star Theatricals. We’re looking for the right intimate theatre to subscribe at — it hasn’t been the same since Rep East died (it’s now The Main, and although it does a lot of theatre, it doesn’t have seasons or a resident company), and post-COVID, most 99-seaters aren’t back to doing seasons (or seasons we like). I used to do more detailed writeups; here’s my current approach.

Upcoming Theatre – Next 90ish Days:

On the Theatrical Horizon:

There are a few shows for which announcements have crossed my transom that may be of interest: The CSUN Theatre Department in Northridge will be doing the Spongebob Musical in April 2024. We really wanted to see this when it was on tour in 2020, but the tour was killed by COVID; we did drive up to Woodland CA to see a friend in a community theatre production of it. It is a great show about science and climate denial. Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse in Woodland Hills will be doing Hands on a Hardbody in May 2024. CSH announced this back in 2020, but it was killed by COVID; I’m glad to see it will be back (and with another RepEast alumna in the cast, even). Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has announced their Mainstage 2024 Season, and it includes Bat Boy the Musical running Sept 28 through October 18. We saw Bat Boy back when CSUN did it in 2014; it is a wonderful musical about how a society treats outsiders. Conundrum Theatre Company will be doing Urinetown The Musical in mid to late March 2024 at the Broadwater; this is a great musical, but we can’t fit it into the schedule (nor does my wife care to see it again). However, if you haven’t seen it, it is worth seeing. I also just learned about a theatre company in Fullerton, Maverick Theater. They are doing Evil Dead: The Musical , which is a hoot if you’ve never seen it (we’ve seen it twice). They also have some interesting other stuff on their season, and we might drive down for Santa Claus Vs The Martians in November.

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🎭 But He Won’t Fit on the Shelf | “Elf” @ Canyon Theatre Guild

Elf (Canyon Theatre Guild)I’m not a big fan of Christmas media: movies, music, plays, musicals. On the surface, that’s not a big surprise as I’m Jewish and Christmas is not my holiday. From the day after Holloween nowadays, we’re saturated with the commercial and sentimental message of the holiday, with its underlying message of buy, buy, buy. Perhaps Stan Freberg and Tom Lehrer had it right after all … but I digress.

Still, there are a few properties in each media category that I like. I’m enamored of Peter Paul and Mary’s Christmas Dinner, because I think that’s the message of the day. I love A Mulholland Christmas Carol and wish it would be done again. But much of what is out there is sentimental claptrap or remountings of classics (such as the recent production of Miracle on 34th Street at Actors Co-Op). Recently, two musicals have emerged as Christmas perennials. One we saw in 2017: A Christmas Story. The other is Elf: The Musical, with book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, Music by Matthew Sklar, and Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, based on the 2003 movie written by David Berenbaum. I could easily see Elf becoming one of those holiday musicals I actually like, as it is a whole lot of fun, has great music, and a wonderful non-religious and non-commercial message.

Elf basically tells the story of Buddy the Elf. As an infant, after his single mother died, he crawled into Santa’s bag and was taken by mistake to the North Pole. He was raised by the elves to be one of them, even after he grew to be six feet tall. One day, he learns he is human and journeys to New York City to meet his dad, who has no Christmas spirit. He does, and as they say, hijinks ensure. He gets a job as an elf at Macy*s, and falls in love with a cynical “elf” Jovie. He destroys his dad’s office. But this is all done with childish joy and innocence, as Buddy has never really grown up and is the embodiment of a child’s Christmas spirit and belief. When Santa gets stranded in NYC due to the lack of Christmas spirit, of course it is Buddy to the rescue. Cue the closures of the story lines and the happy ending that is required.

Although there are numerous productions of Elf in Southern California this time of year, we saw the production at Canyon Theatre Guild in Santa Clarita/Newhall. To understand CTG, you need to understand the tiers of theatres in So Cal. There are the big boys that have the tours and are typically all Equity (although the Pantages does some non-Equity tours). There are the mid-size houses that are all Equity. There are the intimate theatres, some of whom use Equity contracts and some Equity actors (as REP was, down the street from CTG, when it was in existance); there are others that eschew Equity’s BS and use only non-Equity actors (who are typically rising actors, or actors from film/TV (SAG/AFTRA)). Community theatre is a step below that: theatre performed by a mix of community members who just love to act, and in SoCal, actors from the cadre of non-Equity and film/TV actors who like to exercise their craft on stage. As a result, the quality of the performances at CTG can be mixed: you have some performers who are seasoned vets who bring their “A” game to the show, and you have the teacher, printer, or student that may flub a line, miss a step, or be focused too much on getting the moves right to inhabit or create a background character. But you know, going in, these folks are up on the stage because they love it, and they are giving all their heart.

With this mix, the directing team (in this case, Barry Agin (FB) and Timben Boydston (FB)) had their hands full. They had to come up with the overall design of the production. They had to work with the actors to bring out and shape the characters — and with community theatre actors that can be a bit more work. They had to ensure the evenness of the performances and ensure that the characters created were true to what was on the written page. Lastly, they had to do this while ensuring that everyone was having fun, because you’re not in community theatre to make the tens and tens of dollars that those big-time actors in LA’s intimate theatres make. I’m pleased to say that Barry and Timben achieved these goals: this was a fun production with easily overlooked imperfections, with actors that generally did a great job.

But there is one primary reason for the success of this show — and that reason is the same reason we chose this production out of all the productions of Elf in Southern California that we could see: George Chavez (FB). We’ve seen George in numerous productions throughout the years at REP, when it existed up the street; in Simi Valley; and at other theatres in LA. He brings a wonderful enthusiasm and manic energy to his roles; a tender craziness. George wasn’t just playing Buddy the Elf — George was Buddy the Elf. He brought a child’s wonder and sense of playfulness to the role, he brought the manic energy of an elf, as well as the innocence. He made you believe in the Christmas spirit through that energy. If you know George in real life, you know that he is also a teacher — and his performance here made it clear why his students must love love him, and why he finds joy in that other aspect of his life. This enthusiasm for whatever he does — whatever role or profession he is in — can’t be faked. He is successful as a teacher because he loves that. He is successful as an actor because he loves that. And, as this performance demonstrated, he was successful as Buddy the Elf because he brings the love for anything Christmas that is inside Buddy to the stage, beams it out to the audience, and literally becomes that character while on stage. His enthusiasm and joy was such that it raised up all the other actors, and smoothed over the rough edges that community theatre might have. I’m sure this joy was also broadcast backstage and set the tone for the entire company.

But George’s Buddy wasn’t the only impressive talent on the CTG stage. I was also impressed with Christina Afetian (FBJovie. Afetian brought some wonderful character to the role, had a winning smile, and most importantly: a winning voice. She did a spectacular job on “A Christmas Song”, and was just a joy to watch.

Buddy’s human family was also very strong, in particular Ally Loprete (FB) Emily Hobbs and Jack Anderson Michael Hobbs. Loprete brought a great personality and a very strong voice to her role; Anderson was strong as the brother and handled the character well. Jeff Vincent (FB) Walter Hobbs was strong performance-wise as the father, bringing just the right sense of Christmas indifference to the role. However, at our performance, his voice was a bit tired by the end of the evening — if I had to guess, he had an ill-timed cold. Happens to all of us, and I wish we could have seen him in stronger form.

In terms of the other characters, Anna Rast (FBDeb had a strong voice and brought a unique personality to the character. Also bringing a strong voice and some standout personality was Noemi Vaca (FB) Charlotte in her various ensemble roles.

Rounding out the cast were: Eduardo Arteaga (FBSanta Claus, Jackson Caruso (FBMatthews / Ensemble; Peyton Copley Ensemble; Erin Davis (FBSara / Ensemble; Kaitlyn Davis Ensemble; Molly Davis Ensemble; Greyson Foster (⭐FBCharlie / Ensemble; Ellen Guinn Ensemble; Calvin Hayward Ensemble; Doug Holiday (FBVinny the Policeman / Ensemble; Harmony Jefferson Ensemble; La’a Jefferson (FBEnsemble; Haileigh Johnson Ensemble; Kelly Johnson Mrs. Claus / Ensemble; Jefferson Lanz (FBSam / Ensemble; Hannah May LEPoidevin (FBEnsemble; Sam Kort (FBEnsemble; Jeff Lucas (FBBad Santa / Ensemble; John Morris (FBEnsemble; Grace Morrison Ensemble; Katrina Negrete (FBEnsemble; Christopher Passalacqua (FBChadwick / Ensemble; Cora Pengelly Ensemble; Eva Pengelly Ensemble; Christopher Robbin Mr. Greenway; Emma Shean Ensemble; Owen Shean Ensemble; Griffin Siroky (FBEnsemble; Katelyn Taylor Tiara / Ensemble; and Jeremiah True (FB) Manager.

The music, alas, was recorded.

Choreography was by Melanie Lee (FB), who did a great job considering the range of dance talent she had to work with.

Turning to the production and creative side: The set design by Doug Holiday (FB) and John Alexopoulos (FB) wasn’t fancy, but worked well for the CTG stage (especially considering the limited budget CTG has to work with). Long-time REP regular Steven “Nanook” Burkholder (FB) provided sound design and appropriate sound effects. Mike Davis (FB) and Michael T. Smith (FB)’s lighting design did a satisfactory job of establishing place and time. The costume design by Jean Paletz (FB) and Jill McGlynn (FB) was appropriately Christmas-y; the elf costumes were cute. Rounding out the credits: Margo Caruso (FBAsst. Director; Carla Bellefeuille (FBVocal Director; Michael T. Smith (FB) Props / Set Dresser; Keri Pierson (FBStage Manager; Nicole Arteaga (FBProps / Set Dresser. Timben Boydston (FB) is the Executive and Artistic Director of CTG.

Alas, Monday was the last performance of Elf at CTG. Perhaps George will do it at a future venue.

🎭

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 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:

We have no more live theatre scheduled in 2019. We will be seeing a movie on Christmas Day.

Looking to early 2020: most of the January is currently quiet, but the middle of the month is busy, with What The Constitution Means To Me at the Mark Taper Forum, and Frozen at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) the third weekend, and Cirque Éloize at  the Soraya/VPAC (FB) the last weekend. Things start heating up in February, with The Last Ship (with Sting) at the Ahmanson Theatre the first weekend; A Body of Water at Actors Co-op (FB) and It Shoulda Been You at Musical Theatre Guild (FB) the third weekend; and (whew!)  The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Escape to Margaritaville at the Dolby Theatre/Broadway in LA (FB), and Step Afrika at the Soraya/VPAC (FB) the fourth weekend. Yes, that is the Pantages and the Dolby the same day — that’s what I get for not entering season tickets on my calendar before ticketing a bonus show. March comes in like a lamb, with the first two weekends (2/29 and 3/7) being quiet… but goes out like a Lion. The 2nd weekend brings the MRJ Man of the Year dinner (and possibly The Wild Party at Morgan Wixson); the 3rd Morris’ Room at Actors Co-op (FB) ; and the last bringing Spongebob Squarepants at the Dolby Theatre/Broadway in LA (FB) and the MoTAS/TBH Seder. April is similarly busy: the 1st weekend is Mamma Mia at 5 Star Theatricals (FB); the 2nd is during Pesach and is open (but has Count Basie at the Soraya/VPAC (FB) the Thursday before); the 3rd is Once on This Island at the Ahmanson Theatre; the last is Hamilton at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) (and possibly Hands on a Hardbody at the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse (FB)), and the first weekend of May is Mean Girls at the Dolby Theatre/Broadway in LA (FB)

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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🎭 But Is It a Dog? | “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville” @ Canyon Theatre Guild

Baskerville (Canyon Theatre Guild)Last weekend was a weekend of murder mysteries and humor, cross-dressing and loads and loads of characters, played by very few people. Saturday brought The Mystery of Irma Vep at Actors Co-Op in Hollywood. Sunday saw us up in Santa Clarita for Ken Ludwig‘s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Canyon Theatre Guild (FB), which was being directed by the former proprietor of the former REP East Playhouse down the street (now “The Main“), O Michael Owston (FB). The former (Vep) had two actors playing about 10 difference characters; the latter (Baskerville) has five actors playing about 40 different characters. The former was at a professional membership theatre company (which primarily means they can use union actors); the latter is at a community theatre. Both were mysteries whose goal was humor, not fright. Both dealt with hell hounds and mysteries on the moor. Most importantly, both were well executed and fun to watch.

Ken Ludwig‘s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes‘ The Hound of the Baskervilles. Ludwig retains most of the story (read the synopsis from Wikipedia here), only changing Sir Henry to a transplant from Texas. As executed, two of the actors take the lead roles of Holmes and Watson; the remaining three actors take all the other thousand or so roles.

Initially, when the play started, I had concerns that the same “woke” issues that bothered me about Irma Vep would appear: namely, stereotypes and cross-dressing. The cross-dressing is a bit problematical and played for laughs; luckily, it only occurs one one of the early scenes and isn’t constant through the show (and is forgotten quickly). Similarly, the stereotype problem only applies to one character (the Sicilian) who only makes a brief appearance. All of the other characters portrayed to not raise any “woke” hackles.

O had to be a bit creative in staging this production, as the space is shared with a concurrently running production of Peter and the Starcatcher … meaning a shared set. This means that the set is a series of platforms, and the primary scene establishing devices are chairs and props that can be brought on, as opposed to more detailed set pieces to establish the context of Baker Street vs the Baskerville Manor on the Moor, or other specific locations. O takes advantage of this to play up the humor, especially in the early points of the play when the initial exposition is being established.

In the lead positions are Jeremiah Luther True (FBSherlock Holmes and Matthew Thomas Stallings (FBDr. Watson. True, even though his character is in the title, has the smaller role — and as is Holmes’ nature, the stiffer role. He captures Holmes well, but there have been so many Holmes portrayals over the years, it is hard to assess what “well” is given the tropes in our mind. But he comes across as suitably Holmesish. In contrast, Stallings is very strong as Watson. Stallings gets to carry the primary narrative of the story; he’s the one who does most of the interactions with the other characters and the one who does most of the leg work and investigations. He does this very well, and handles the straight-man aspects of it strongly.

The portion of the cast that really shines are the remaining three actors: Eduardo Arteaga (FBActor 1; Kirsten Rast (FBActress 1; and Tanner Burghardt (FBActor 2. Although I was joking earlier about thousands of roles, these three take on around 40 different roles. I was unsure about Arteaga at the start, as he was cross-dressing with a beard. But he was strong as Sir Henry and Inspector Lestrad, and worked quite well with Stallings’ Watson. Even stronger were Rast and Burghardt. They got the bulk of the numerous different roles, and were extremely strong and funny. Rast was wonderful in all her roles, especially as Beryl and one of the irregulars. Burghardt got to the loads of different characterizations; his best were Mortimer and Stapleton, but all were fun to watch (especially as he dealt with beards that didn’t want to cooperate). Looking back at the show a few days later, I remain impressed by the work of Rast and Burghardt.

Turning to the production and creative side: Set Design, Construction, and Dressing was by the director, O Michael Owston (FB),  which isnt’ a surprise given his current artistic endeavor. As I indicated, the primary set was a series of platforms that had to be adaptable to both Baskerville and Peter and the Starcatchers. Augmenting this was dressing that established the sense of place: chairs, tables, and such. Additional properties were by Laurie Morgan (FB). The primary sense of place and characters came from the costumes of Eduardo Arteaga (FB), which did a great job of establishing the individuality of each character, especially when combined with the unique performance characteristics that O brought out of the actors.  Long-time REP regular Steven “Nanook” Burkholder (FB) provided appropriate sound effects; my only quibble is that the mood-establishing music might be turned down a tad as it overpowered the actors at times. Mackenzie Bradford (FB)’s lighting design did a good job of augmenting mood and establishing time. Rounding out the production and support credits: Musetta Caing Hart (FBAssistant Director; Nicholas Woodworth (FB) Stage Manager; Musetta Caing Hart (FB) Program Editor; Timothy Hart (FBAsst Program Editor; Barbara Yeager (FB) House Manager; TimBen Boydston (🗳FB, FB) Executive Artistic Director.

Note that CTG labels their seats different than most theatres: Numbers represent the row, and letters represent the seat (and O and Q appear to be omitted). Thus, our seats were R2 and S2. This seemed to be an endless source of confusion for, shall we say, the “typical” Sunday afternoon matinee audience.

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery continues at Canyon Theatre Guild (FB) in Newhall (Santa Clarita) through November 3. It’s a funny show with strong performances, at a well-established community theatre. Tickets are available through the CTG Online Box Office; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

I like to say that I’m a professional audience, and that’s why I like theatre. In my real life, I’m a cybersecurity subject matter expert — an engineer. I don’t have the creativity in me to inhabit other characters, and in general, the writing I do is limited to non-fiction — government documents and policies, highway pages, and reviews like these. I don’t have the ability to take an idea and turn it into characters and stories that might be compelling to an audience. But as I just noted, I’m also a long time cybersecurity professional, and attending years of the Hollywood Fringe Festival has convinced me that the medium of the stage could be used to teach about cybersecurity in a way that audiences could learn, without being overwhelmed with technology. The notion I have is to take some broad cybersecurity themes and concepts and translate them into stories that could teach in a compelling way. But I don’t have the expertise to build a story out of the idea. If this is something that might interest you, please let me know. I don’t have funds for a commission or anything like that, but it might be something we could turn into a property beneficial for all.

🎭

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 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 brings Anastasia – The Musical at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The third weekend of October brings us back to the Kavli for The Music Man at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), followed by In Trousers at the Lounge Theatre from Knot Free Productions. October concludes with Mandy Gonzalez at the Soraya/VPAC (FB) and the MoTAS Poker Tournament.

Looking to November, it starts with A Miracle on 34th Street – The Radio Play at  Actors Co-op (FB), followed by Big Daddy the Band of 1959 at McCabes (FB) in Santa Monica.. The second weekend brings Summer at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and The Goodbye Girl at Musical Theatre Guild (FB).  November concludes with Bandstand at Broadway in Thousand Oaks

December is relatively open right now, given that we lose two weekends to ACSAC, and the small theatres are often darker around the holidays. The first weekend (before ACSAC) may bring an outing of our new live theatre group at our synagogue to Eight Nights at the Anteaus Theatre Company (FB).  I do have a hold for December 17 for Elf at Canyon Theatre Guild. I also have a hold for mid-January for What The Constitution Means To Me at the Mark Taper Forum, but I’m waiting for the presale to start to confirm that date. January will also bring Frozen at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and Cirque Éloize at  the Soraya/VPAC (FB). I’m already booking well into 2020.

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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