OTTTV

No, the above headline does not read as “Ottive”. It’s a set of initials that translates as “Over The Top Television” that has been the latest buzz word(s) in TV in this day and age.

For starters, the term “over the top” itself can describe some form of element (person, place, or thing) that means it’s above expectations for what it is. It could be a remarkable person based upon his/her personality, attitudes, and overall breakdown. It could label a location that is just as extreme. Ditto on the “thing”..thing!

However, for those that follow the trends that are linked to the medium called “television”,  one might have heard of something called “over the top television”. As expected, one might assume that this term describes a special TV show that is seen on one of the many channels that exist in this day and age, from over the air broadcast (still available through an antenna device), cable, or through internet streaming. In fact, the term “over the top”, or “OTT” for short, means that the programming is fed not through airwaves or a coax cable, but through streaming.

When Netflix, the source where one can rent DVDs through the mail without going to the local video rental place i.e. the late “Blockbuster Video” and its competitors that also are of “late”, offered its streaming service a few years back, the notion where one can watch moving imagery anytime and on any day desired took off as fast as cable did in another era. Before long, others got into the flow of things, from the big four networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), to the pay services that once was ahead of the pack when it came to TV one couldn’t see on the for noted networks!

HBO offered its HBO To Go service a few years back where one can stream its programming to those that subscribed to HBO by way of the local cable company or satellite service. To compete with Netflix and its brood of competitors (Amazon, Hulu, and many others), HBO began its stand alone service called “HBO Now” where one can watch the original programming offered by the network to anyone willing to pay for the service. And this month, Showtime will offer its service calling itself “Showtime” offered for a lesser price-$10.99 per month vs. HBO’s $14.99 per month.

This form of OTT television has been the rage, since such programming can be viewed based upon the schedule of the subscriber on just about any device that sports a video screen and can link to an internet connection. And unlike the networks that offered one episode at a time, these channels take upon Netflix’s offering of a season of shows in one sitting. Thus, one can watch an entire season’s worth of programming all at once, rather than in weekly doses as dispensed by the channels.

NBC diped its toes in the water by releasing their new series Aquarius through its streaming service into one lump, meaning that one no longer has to view this series each Thursday night at 9:00 PM-8:00 PM Central. One can watch the entire run whenever they felt like it, and continued until the episodes ran out or the viewer’s tolerance for the show came to its end–whatever would come first! The other networks are using this ploy as a prime example upon how their new shows can be distributed–one piece at a time or all at once.

This method of TV has also been described as “Television’s New Coming” where time shifting–something that’s been around since the first VCR’s came upon the market in the late 1970’s, is the key. Now anybody with an electronic that has a video screen along with the internet connection can watch to their heart’s content. However, polls show that the best way to experience TV is through a traditional television device that hosts the big picture and booming sound. One can see the same content through a phone, but must deal with a screen size of 4” or less with a tinny soundtrack. The portability is better, but just serves as a sacrifice.

Summertime TV used to mean a period that the networks offered reruns of shows that’s been running since the previous September, or those shows called “Summer Replacements”–programs that were amusing but nothing special, servicing as place marks for the new(er) titles that would come around in the fall. However, there is no real TV season anymore! New summertime programming can be just as great or lousy than content released in the dead of Winter, or Spring, and even the Fall!

With all of the program choices and all of the devices available to catch such content, one element doesn’t come with all of these choices. And that factor in question is the time allowed to take in all of that material! After all, one only has the magic number of 27/7/365 to play with. But in this day and age, perhaps some video source will offer as a premium, a longer hour, day, week, month, and year to consume anything and everything offered! But as they used to say on via the ol’ idiot box–stay tuned!!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     The Elephant Theatre Company presents the world premier of Lyle Kessler’s THE GREAT DIVIDE, a dark comedy about a family gathering of a sporting kind where two siblings attempt to rebond and rebound with their father, and the meeting of an ungraspable pair that becomes family for the moment.

The setting is the home of Dale (Brandon Bales), located in the community of Fishtown, Pennsylvania, famous for not being famous. Coleman (Adam Haas Hunter) is summoned back home by his brother announcing that he found his dad (Richard Chaves) dead on the living room couch. The old man wasn’t dead; he was just in a stage of deep sleep. Now that dad is far from being deceased, their story is just beginning. While Coleman was gone from the family “estate”, Dale remained, spending his time writing stories about many things, enough to keep the manuscripts locked up in a safe for no one to read! These written tales are a method of an expression for this lad as a personal and virtual escape hatch. The ol’ man has is own expression as well in the form of Baseball. He can play the game, but also keeps facts and figures in mind from the lesser known to the totally obscure. Meanwhile, two of Coleman’s companions from his past arrive somewhat unexpectedly. Noah (Mark McClain Wilson) and Lane (Kate Huffman, alternating with Kimberly Alexander), members of a “gang” that had Coleman as a component, complete with sporting his own nickname! They arrive to settle a score so to speak, including an announcement of a new arrival that Coleman had some assistance in, as well as to an remembrance to Coleman’s and Dale’s dearly departed mother, linked to an old Irish lullaby. These five people have the stern decision of either keeping this clan together after many time passages, or to have the entire ensemble be torn apart, set within a town that remains as a lowly speck found on any given map.

This play by playwright Lyle Kessler keeps upon an even blend of quirky comedy, straight drama, with a pleasant touch of suspense added for good measure. It relies upon layers of snappy dialogue that preserves the play’s steady pacing. The cast of five players have an appeal toward their characters. They are not lovable in the traditional sense, but they have enough to retain concern while not becoming one’s average Joe or Jane! David Fofi’s stage direction adds to this notion of the mildly level of cockiness this play maintains. And that maintenance is presented as a positive notion to boot!

The team at Elephant Stageworks provides the set decoration of the family home where all of the action takes place, making things conformable to settle in.

The title of this play describes how the family has either become torn in half or sown back together again. Whatever the case, the production is just as fast as the first pitch, and as successful as that final strikeout ending the game without going into extra innings. It’s another example of one of the many dysfunctional families that still exist in domestic life.

     THE GREAT DIVIDE, presented by the Elephant Theatre Company, and performs at the Lillian Theatre, 1976 Lillian Way (off Santa Monica Blvd. near Vine Street), Hollywood, until August 29th. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 5:00 PM. For more information and for tickets reservations, call (323) 960-4429, or via online to http://www.Plays411.net/Divide.

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Theatre 68 presents the world premier of ADAM & EVE AND STEVE-THE MUSICAL, a musical (of course) retelling of the creation of the human race as dictated between God and the Devil.

The story opens in the Garden of Eden, where God (William Knight) creates Adam (Michael Spaziani). The Devil (Weston Nathanson) adds what should be an opposite of Adam, another man Steve (Jotape Lockwood). Adam and Steve nearly become a pair –as long as one doesn’t grab the apple from the tree! To add to the couple comes the real Eve–Eve! (Kelly Dorney) Eve attempts to get with Adam, although Adam desires for Steve, who arrived first. This brings a confusing tizzy (as well as a threesome), while God attempts to get things straight, although Adam isn’t necessarily in that line. Will God rule where Adam is with Eve? Will Steve find his place in a society to be? And will the Devil get his due?

This musical with book by Chandler Warren and music by Wayne Moore and lyrics by Chandler Warren is a very witty tale of one of the best known stories that came from the good book–with a hearty twist! The songs (a total of twenty tunes) are quirky, witty, and are just as lively as the “book” itself!  The cast of five players are just as animated as well. William Knight as God and Weston Nathanson as the Devil are the seasoned ones in the bunch, showing that seniority is the key when it comes to performing as the creative characters. The three remaining set of players,–Kelly Dorney, Jotape Lockwood, and Michael Spaziani, and the real live wires here. They can sing and dance, especially for Lockwood, and Spaziani. Tara Raucci provides the choreography where the characters Adam, Steve, and Eve are at their peak.

This showpiece is positioned within an intimate stage setting using minimal props, backdrop sets, as well as costuming. The characters of God and the Devil are donned in suits and related street clothing. Adam, Eve, and Steve as dressed in trunks (and a bra for Eve) with fig leaves plastered upon them, giving them a “native” look to each! Wayne Moore, the composer of the music score, provides the musical direction as performed on an electronic keyboard setup. This “less-is-more” attitude works not only well, but adds to its overall charisma.

Directed by Ronnie Marmo, ADAM & EVE AND STEVE is an amusing and gay (no pun intended) one-act musical piece that has been fifteen years in the making! The piece was created a decade and a half ago by the playwright. It was updated a bit, using newer pop references to the dialogue, and was tested out during the LA Fringe Festival last June. It was received so well, it was redeveloped as how its currently presented by Theatre 68. Although fifteen years is a short time (compared to the millions of years since Adam & Eve et. al.) the wait was well worth it!

    ADAM & EVE AND STEVE-THE MUSICAL, presented by Theatre 68 and performs at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until August 30th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more details, visit online at http://www.Plays411.com/Adam.

     Keep up to date on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com//pages/Adam-and-Eve-and-Steve-The Musical/10816010785220729

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SHIV, Aditi Brennan Kapil’s play about a young woman’s real and surreal journey between her father, her native land, the adapted nation she calls home, and the vessel that resides within her imagination, makes its west coast premier at Pasadena’s Theatre @ Boston Court.

Monika Jolly is Shiva, or “Shiv”. She and her father Bapu (Dileep Rao) immigrated from  East India when she was a younger woman, eventually living in a small apartment in a suburban bedroom community located in the Midwest. Bapu is a poet, writing prose that speaks upon a wide range that resembles a science fiction world in more of a non traditional sense. Shiv becomes to live her world based upon traditions and through newer legacy. Through her progression, she answers an ad for a caretaker position for a family estate overlooking a lake bed. She meets Gerard (James Wagner), the nephew to the owner of the property and the home. His uncle the proprietor, is a retired college professor and once ran a small publishing firm. Through these and other passages, Shiv takes upon herself to beckon from her previous life, as well as teeming between her father, his poetry, the difficulties of what’s now and where, and what is within her virtual universe.

This is a play that explores a young woman’s status in life as told in a semi linear fashion. It’s set between the past when Shiv was with her father, a present time through taking on her duties working for and along with Gerard, and among a hereafter by letting herself proceed through her inner mind between escape and completing her excursion–not necessarily in any physical nature.

The cast of four players fit within this journey quite well. Monika Jolly as Shiv is a young woman full of desire and hope, touched with a bit of uncertainty that begs for letting herself go. Dileep Rao as Bapu is the ideal father; a person that is usually found within societies that are family bound–something that is threatened to become lost in domestic (i.e. “American”) settings. James Wagner as Gerard is a young man that is interested in Shiv’s persona and imanagitive journeys–far amused than his somewhat privileged background. And rounding out the cast is Lenard Kelly-Young as Gerard’s uncle; a retired university professor that enjoys his life that calls for being perfect for his tastes, although with well meaning. Emilie Beck directs this cast that make this one act play fit everything in without the feeling of becoming cramped or dense.

Stephanie Kerley Swchwartz created the sets and scenery that consists of a raft type platform nestled in the center of the stage with a flat mattress in center, along with a few props aside the mattress. Hovering overhead are a few pull down ropes with additional personal effects. The platform and mattress serves as the vessel that Shiv imagines, leading her to the absolute zone she needs to go. Tom Ontiveros furnishes the lighting and video design that adds to the visual flavor to the constructive approach as detailed. And Jack Arky creates the sound design and effects that range from rich audio (with echo) to “tinny sounding”, as to coming from a radio made a generation before.

SHIV speaks for a lot of matters, but the real point is the notion between letting go and latching on. It may not necessarily become obvious through the performance, but through the aid of prose and inspiration, one can climb about one’s personal vessel and head into where no one had gone before! Make it so!

     SHIV, present by and performs at The Theatre @ Boston Court, 70 North Mentor Avenue (at Boston Court, near the intersection of Lake Street and Colorado Blvd.), Pasadena, until August 9th. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday nights at 8;00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For tickets and information, call (626) 683-6883, or via online at http://www.BostonCourt.org

     Note: A selection of performances will host special pre- or post-show discussions. Check the theater website for specific topics, along with its performance dates and times.

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