This is the time of the year where many will be undergoing what seem to be the fastest moving six weeks of the entire season! This is the moment where the three biggest holidays tend to fall. And those holidays are in order of their appearance, Thanksgiving, “The Holidays”, and New Year’s Eve/Day.
For starters, The holiday known as “Thanksgiving”, falling on the fourth Thursday in November, is the American version of the day where one does (or should) give thanks, as well as having the family over to one’s domain in order to overeat, fight, or a combination of both! (The folks north of the border a.k.a. Canada, had their Thanksgiving last October 13th that one assumes met all CanCon requirements!) The period known as “The Holidays” was at one time called “Christmas”. But because of politically movements that has been taking hold since the middle 1990’s, this writer refers to all seasonal holidays, both real and imagined, that tends to take place within the month of December, taking an emphasis that the holidays in question are festive and offers a lot of pomp and circumstance attached to them. New Year’s Eve/Day are self explanatory.
As to Black Friday, the recently created traditional day after Thanksgiving where the official Holiday shopping season begins, folks would take to the stores to grab bargains that retail outlets tend to hawk as an incentive for those same shoppers to spend more that first intended.
Black Friday, taking its name where stores fall into the black in terms of gains and profits, usually started early in the morning, around 7:00 AM. Then stores pushed the time a bit earlier-6:00 AM or so. Then it was pushed to 5:00 AM. Then some of the bigger retailers upped the ante where they would open on Thanksgiving evening, around 8:00 PM. Soon, other retailers such as Target and Walmart took suit where they would be ready, willing, and able to accommodate shoppers just as the leftovers were being packed away, and that evening’s football match was still blazing on the tube.
Macy’s, the leading chain of department shorts, announced they they would open at 6:00 PM to take any and all shoppers. This move raised the bar further still as retailers ready to make their season bright(er), will make their part to get those shoppers to come in to buy.
But this same writer is just speaking for the physical retailers; those with actual stores one can step inside of. Thanks to such giants as Amazon as well as the retailers that still hold a physical presence, many people are buying more on line that ever before. Price and connivence are its top reasons to shop the cyberspace method. And thanks to the method of shopping for goods called “Showrooming” where a person seeking a specific item heads over to a retail outlet to inspect the particular, and once satisfied over its look, functions, and other elements that suit the needs and desires of the party, buys the exact item online, making things a whole lot streamlined to spend one’s dough. And with the assistance of a website, as well as a method of paying for the item(s) through a credit card, a Paypal account, a phone app, etc., one can do all of their Holiday buying without fighting crowds in a retail location that may or may not be worth the bother to trek out to.
And how big is shopping online going to be? According to a dedicated website Best Black Friday (http://www.BestBlackFriday.com) a place where one can grab information sales, shopping tips and related news, total online sales will top one billion dollars, an increase of a little over 24% comparing to the previous year.
What kind of bargains to look out for, both in store and online? According to a report by the Consumers Electronic Association, electronic pads are not only on folk’s wish list, but retailers will be offering these devices with scaled down prices. Although the Apple iPad, the company that invented these marvel devices are on those hit lists, many retailers will offer other versions of these pads made by other companies, ranging from Samsung, Microsoft. Those firms, as well as others, will be toting their versions of this latest and greatest electronic gadgets since the Transistor radio to be consumed in a hot hurry. Even the folks at AARP are selling their version of this device that states it’s “electronic friendly” to its prime demographic that most likely got their first transistor radio for Christmas back in the day! Their version of their “pad”, running on the Android operating system, features built in apps that instruct the user how to operate the device, and will even throw in a one year’s membership to AARP that entitles the user to even more discounts! All this for $189.00 SMRP.
So there you have it. For those that will be heading over the river and through the woods, make sure to stock up on all of the goods on your shopping list, just as long one has the will power to do it all! And having resources (i.e. spending money) will also help as well!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre 68 presents the world premier of SERIAL KILLER BARBIE, a musical tale of the motions of living through adolescence in a post modern world.
The story opens where a mom is getting her six year old daughter Parker (Grace Nakane) ready for her fist day in first grade that next morning. She proceeds to tell her a bedtime story of the saga of Barbara a.k.a. Barbi (Kelley Dorney), a young lass that goes through her early age in school, from the first grade well into the 12th. Along this long academic journey is the ritual of meeting others that will accept her and those that won’t. Her first best friend is Bruce (Alex Robert Holmes) who the two become best buds-not in the same vain as boyfriend/girlfriend as Bruce will later meet somebody of his own kind. Meanwhile, Barbie encounters a pack of girls known as “The Debbies”, consisting of Debbie (Marti Maley), Debby (Kacey Coppola), and the leader of the pack Debbi (Katy Jocoby). They are rather leerily of outsiders, making sure that if anyone wants to become part of them, they must first meet The Debbie’s strict standards. Over time and tide, Barbie comes cloes to being one of them. And her best guy friend falls for somebody else within her group, and he is perfect for Bruce! But will Barbie and The Debbies survive through high school and beyond?
This musical featuring book and lyrics by Colette Freeman, and musical score and additional lyrics by Nickella Moschetti, is charming, witty, and speaks for the many that went through some the same antics kids do in a “Nickelodeon/Disney Channel”-esk school age universe, from the innocent days of being a kid, moving up to the “tweener” years, and finally setting in high school where puberty kicks in for the good or otherwise! The ensemble cast does a great job playing their roles representing the phases that most domestic kids live through in their school eras. (Homeschool kids, another part of post modern life, miss out on all of these fun and frolics!) Kelly Borney as Barbie is ideal as the kid that doesn’t fit in, sporting a “dorky” look at first, while moving up to a more suitable appearence as she gets older. The real show stoppers are the three Debbies; Marti Maley, Kacey Coppola, and Katy Jacoby. They can be mean and sassy just because they can, as they don’t have much to live for–assuming they they make it through high school! Following up behind the Debs there are the rest of Barbie’s bunch, including Cy Creamer as Sebastian, Nicole Fabbri as Beatrice, Jillian Fonacier as Sharon, and Christopher Kelly as Quinn. These “kids” round up as the ones that make Barbi’s life a dream, or just adds to the confusion.
As to the behinds the scenes stuff. Anne-Marie Osgood provides the choreography in this show, making it a full fledged epic, even as performed within an intimate stage set. Adam Gascione provides set design of a school setting, complete with blackboards and hall lockers off to the side. Nickella Moschetti provides the musical direction of her own score, with her of the keyboards, Ed Cosico on guitar, and Hilletje Bashew on violin. (You did read that correctly!)
Directed by Ronnie Marmo, SERIAL KILLER BARBIE is an appealing one act musical that speaks for anyone who had to go through too many episodes as a kid through mass schooling. And don’t let the title of this show fool you. Barbie isn’t the the one that kills the masses, although she sometimes has such a desire to do so. One doesn’t bump of their “BFFs” that easy. Besides, what do kids know? All they do is text and tweet–right…?
SERIAL KILLER BARBIE, presented by Theatre 68 and performs at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until December 21st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (323) 960-5068, or via online at http://www.Theatre68.com
THE VORTEX, Noel Coward’s play that depicts drug abuse, restrained homosexuality, oedipal tendencies, and nymphomania, laced with quick-wittedness and endless cocktails, opens at The Matrix Theatre in adjacent Hollywood.
The setting focuses on the rather dysfunctional relationship between Nicky Lancaster (Craig Robert Young) and his dominant mother Florence (Shannon Holt). She is a self-obsessed actress of the stage variety. He‘s a music composer based in Paris. He has arrived back to London for the Christmas holidays. Coming along with him is Bunty Mainwaring (Skye LaFontaine), who he introduced her to his mother as his fiancee, although they don’t seem to show much passion toward one other. Things begin to unfold further when his mother holds an affair with Tom Veryan (Daniel Jimenez) a number of years her junior who just happens to be Bunty’s former fiancee. Nicky himself has a few restrained notions as well that are the form of personal vices, such as his addiction to cocaine as well as his relationship to Bunty that just may be a “front” to his actual preferences to men. Both mother and son must face what drives them between each other and to themselves.
This was the play that placed Coward on the theater map as a playwright. First presented in London c. 1924 when Coward, who also appeared in the original production at the age of 25, was way ahead of its time due to the underscored vices this piece speaks for, although presented in so-called “good taste”. (It didn’t preach upon what encounter was considered as accepted or wrongful actions!) In this Matrix Theatre production, the setting was moved up some three decades from the middle twenties to the mid 1960’s when the mod movement was taking its mark within the popular culture. (The characters depicted in this piece, instead of dancing the fox trot to jazz tunes on a Victoria, now frug to British Invasion style rock and pop!) There is plenty of wit and witticism spoken throughout, along with enough alcohol to fill every empty glass in the room! The cast performing in this showpiece keeps the sprit going (pun intended?) while shifting between the for noted wit and dark comedy. Craig Robert Young as Nicky is charming, while Shannon Holt as Florence is a cross between a firm loving mother and the bitchy variety, something that Noel himself most likely had in mind. As to the rest of the ensemble, consisting of Cameron Mitchell Jr. as Paunceforth “Pawnie” Quentin, Victoria Hoffman as Helen Saville, and John Mawson as David Lancaster, each person speaks for the period, all maintaining the focus the story line presents while being as witty than ever before. It’s still a rather dark comedy for what it is. However, it’s the brightest dark comedy that’s been seen in quite a while that didn’t use excessive violence to place its points across! Gene Franklin Smith, who directed this same play at the Malibu Playhouse a little over three years ago, is back bringing this stage work into a new timeline that functions as ever before.
And because this play is a period piece, Erin Wally’s scenic design holds on tight to its mod look (especially in the first two of three acts) while Shon LeBlanc’s costuming keeps everyone’s clothing appearance to the times where all are presented as “smashing!” Bringing up the technical side is Joe Calarco’s sound design that uses a selection of music that was indeed Top of the Pops!
THE VORTEX is a Noel Coward play that isn’t as revised as often as some of the playwright’s other works. Perhaps it’s because of the themes it speak of, or maybe because Blithe Spirit and Private Lives are better accepted for mass audiences. Whatever the excuse, this production at The Matrix shines throughout. In spite of the so-called “evils” is hints upon, the drinking and smoking people did some eighty plus years before hand had been part of the British (and perhaps American) landscape–just as long as one keeps it in moderation and adds as many witty lines one can tolerate!
THE VORTEX, performs at The Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue (a few blocks east of Fairfax), Los Angeles, until December 14th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (323) 960-7735, or via online at http://www.Plays411.com/Vortex
Making its world premier at the Underground Theatre in Hollywood is Joshua Crone’s SOLITAIRE, a drama of a Marine who must border the seen and unseen demons he faces for the actions he committed far outside of battle.
Gabriel Miller Schwalenstocker is Private Jeremy Stills, an enlisted man in the Marine Corp locked in a military brig charged for the torture of a suspected terrorist that lead to death. His crime was hideous enough to place him in a windowless cell. He has little to no contact with any other human outside of the MPs that watch over him and his defense council, Commander Lana Burke (Varda Appleton). Although his case is yet to be heard by a military court, Jeremy is faced with illusions seen only by him that hark from his recent and distant past. His most notable vision is the terrorist he dealt with, now playing an endless and silent game of solitaire. Other visions that come to his mind is Veronica (Julianne Kusmierczky), a former girlfriend from his civilian college days, his parents, his fellow Marine grunts, his DI, and others that feed his head leading him towards an insane state of being. The question remains if this doomed man will ever see freedom again, or will he be forever be kept in a cell for stepping out of bounds of performing his military duty.
This play, written and directed by Joshua Crone, is a powerful depiction of a military based action gone astray–although the action performed is now long after the fact. Gabriel Miller Schwalenstocker as Private Stills plays his role as a man who was once a proud and strong Marine, now reduced into a heaping ball teetering to the point of mental derangement. He speaks to no one but himself, the invisible human forms that come in and out of his consciousness, as well as the few living humans he encounters face to face, not necessarily there to assist him in any way. The ensemble cast (many performing in multiple roles), consist of Rich Stepens and Tim Bowman as the MPs that treat him as a lowly prisoner, Joshua Crone (director and playwright) as a ghost DI as well as a chaplain that acts as confused as the condemned man he visits, Mark Craig as his dad, and Andrew Devitre as Al Hassan, the terrorist he tortured to death, now limited to playing that elongated and soundless game of solitaire.
What makes this production unique is the effects seen on the intimate stage set. The set itself, designed and built by Daniel Frank, consists of a metal-esk massive box that serves as the holding cell. There are “windows” throughout the box in order for the audience to see through, but in reality (for the prisoner), it’s bare and windowless. There are also video illusions that serve as Jeremy’s hallucinations as projected onto a screen space that illustrates the visions going through his mind, or what’s left of it! Natalia Brozynska provides the animation effects that serve as part of the visions, and a crew from The American Film Institute provides the live action scenes that consists of fragmentize episodes that show off the thoughts of the prisoner. Jonathan Crone provided the incidental music pieces that is just as haunting as Jeremy’s personal inner and outer hells.
SOLITAIRE is a power packed play that is more disturbing that one would imagine. It’s a saga of a “war is hell” take where it’s more of hell than of war. The action is tight, compact, and never lets down from its first moments to its conclusion. This stage production, as tight as it can get, is highly recommended!
SOLITAIRE performs at The Underground Theatre, 1314 North Wilton Place (south of Sunset Blvd.) Hollywood, until December 21st. Showtimes are Thursday through Sunday nights at 8:00 PM. For tickets and for more information, call (323) 283-7316, or via online at http://www.SolitaireThePlay.com
The Chromolume Theatre presents the Steven Sondheim review PUTTING IT TOGETHER, a musical program that features a selection of tunes composed by one of the living legions of musical theater that takes upon a journey of five characters that reasons upon the trials and tribulations of post modern relationships.
The plot, for what it is, sets the action at a party taking place in a Malibu condo where a show biz producer-director is celebrating an opening of his latest production. Attending alongside at the bash is his spouse that he “upgraded”, an fellow actor and songwriter type, his date-an actress that desires to become discovered, and an aspiring writer that happens to be the bartender for the evening. These five hold events of their own, from the producer and his spouse going through a snag in their marriage, the younger unmarried pair seeing their way in life in an aloof manner, and the writer/bartender, playing the unofficial MC for the evening. Although each one may face their facts of and in life, everything comes out correct in the end in classic Sondheim fashion!
This musical showcase that features the musical numbers of Steven Sondheim with premise devised by Sondheim and Julia McKenzie, consists of thirty (count ‘em) pieces extracted from this writer’s overstuffed songbook. Many of the numbers come from his “greatest hits” collection after such musical as (among many others) Follies, Merrily We Roll Along, Company, and even the feature film Dick Tracy,-a movie that wasn’t a musical to begin with! As to this production, a cast of five sing through this program throughout in near operetta technique! (Very little spoken dialogue is ever heard!) Those five are Kurt Andrew Hansen as the Hollywood producer, Kristen Towers-Rowles as his “trophy” wife, Chris Kerrigan as the composer/actor, Rachel Hirshee as his date, and Mike Irozarry as the writer/bartender. (These five do not sport character names, as they are only known as “Man 1”, “Woman 2”, etc.) Cate Caplin directs and choreographic this showcase that brings the talented five into a roving light. Richard Berent provides the musical direction, performing the collection of tunes on the keyboards slightly off stage while donning a tux in the process, thanks to Michael Mullen’s costume design.
Shows as this one are ideal to experience on an intimate stage setting as seen at this theater space that emphasis the talent on the floorboards rather than the theatrics. PUTTING IT TOGETHER is choice for those that are fans of the Sondheim aptitude, or for those that are being introduced by his work. The title does say it all as it puts it together in one neat package.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER, presented by Chromolume Theatre, and performs at the Chromolume Theatre at the Attic, 5429 West Washington Blvd. (off Hauser Blvd, east of the 10 freeway.), Los Angeles, until December 21st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations and/or for more information, call (323) 510 2688, or via online at http://www.CrTheatre.com
The Angel City Choral, under the direction of artistic director Sue Fink, presents their annual holiday program SEASON OF WONDER, a concert featuring a selection of musical numbers that celebrate the festivities that make this time of year just what it is-a time of high tidings and good cheer.
The choir, consisting of 150+ male and female voices, will perform a selection of tunes that range from the traditional that speak for its Christmas and Chanukah roots, to a blend of newer material that mixes musical selections that harmonizes world/folk, gospel, rhythm & blues, and all points in between! And because the season is a time where one would lift their voices in song, this event also a sing-a-long where the audience can participate in bringing a choice of accords into new light. Of course, every performance is for one’s listing enjoyment as well, as backed by an ensemble orchestra that livens the festive mood.
This concert will take place for two performances, Saturday, December 6th and Sunday, December 7th at 7:00 PM at the acoustically perfect Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd. (adjacent to the Wilshire-Ebell Theatre), Los Angeles (90010). A dessert reception in the church’s main social hall follows each performance.
For more information on SEASON OF WONDER, including ticket pricing, directions to the event, and about The Angel City Choral, call (310) 943-923, or visit online at http://www.AngelCityChorale.org.
The Angel City Choral is also present on all the major social media circuits. (Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, and YouTube.)
TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
Oh my goodness. I just clicked on a link that led me to a sale on boots. Someone rescue me!
That yoga class feels less good today than it did yesterday. My joints are happy again, but my muscles aren’t sure what just happened.
Timing belt, air filter, tires, wiper blades needed on my car. Just doing the air filter and blades. Anyone know of any money trees?
Victoria practicing soccer hits my head. She declares, “Mom, perfect head but!” Thanks…
When you post something that is inappropriate, I will unfriend you. Just saying. Use some judgement, people!
As of November 17th, Tiffi has 2,457 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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