Once again for the end of the summer season, we turn this issue to you as we print some of your letters and inquiries received over the past few weeks.
I thank you for your commentary over TV and movies. As much as you write (reviews on films), how come you don’t comment on TV shows? Do you actually watch TV, and if you do, what do you use to watch TV? And what are some of your current faves on TV?
-Mark Robins -via e-mail
As much as we admire how television programming, be it available through traditional means (i.e. “over the air”), cable/satellite transmission, internet posts via YouTube, or through direct streaming, has been changing within the last ten or so years, we have to admit there are so many choices going around, we don’t have the time, energy, or opportunity to see everything, let alone pick favorites! But we will note that much of what’s been going around is indeed getting better. We, along with many others, has stated that the quality of television programming has surpassed feature films in terms of writing, performance, character development, and other aspects that make a good TV show or feature film entertaining to watch. However, unlike movies that tend to work with bigger budgets, the epic proportions can’t muster up to a program that is viewed on screen sizes that range from 80” to a little as 2”. Besides, most of the so-called “epic” films tend to be summertime movies that offer plenty of explosions, gunfire, and too much CGI special effects.
But getting back to our picks for TV. Again, yours truly hasn’t had the opportunity to see a lot of programming due to the excuses as noted above. But as for the newer season, AMC’s answer to their big cash cow Breaking Bad, the spinoff Better Call Saul starring Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, the attorney that was part of Walter White’s entourage in BB. This time, BCS gives the origin story of this man, including snippets of his early years as being a con man of sorts in Chicago, long before his relocation to New Mexico. A number of people that this writers knew of had admitted to take part in the art of binge watching, the latest craze (so to speak) of catching up on this series, and many others of this ilk.
As a disclaimer, yours truly is a member of The Television Academy in the set decorators/art director’s peer group. During the voting period where one has to pick what shows are to be nominated for the best in its field, as well as who may actually win an Emmy, I picked another program as my chose. However, I don’t wish to name the show since it would not be fair to the others I had to choose from. I will state that the show I voted for best act direction and set decoration airs on the same network as the for noted Better Call Saul. And although the Emmy Awards will air this year on September 29th on FOX, the creative arts Emmys–the awards given for best costume design, picture editing, and the like, will take place the Saturday before, September 12th. Both award programs will be at the Microsoft Theater (formally the Nokia Theater), in downtown Los Angeles.
…In a lot of blogs, there’s a lot of (pictures and video) links posted. But I have yet to see one on your blog. When will you post pictures and video…?
The above letter is similar to a lot of response we received in the past few weeks and months. Although we have addressed pictureless aspects before, it’s time that we bring it up once again!
There has been a lot of reasons why we have failed to post pictures within our cyber pages of ALOL, as well as links from YouTube, et. al. on visuals that have something to do with the body of content. For instance, when we write a review for a play, we do have access to still taken of the play. (Ditto for features films!) A number of web sites–some are dedicated news sites while a few are “blogs”, will post a picture of two. However, we have over or many years, never posted pictures. The reason for this is, at the time, placing pictures over a text medium take too much space on our servers as well as our hard drives. In today’s age, this isn’t much of a concern as it once was. But we just stuck to what we always did.
But as traditions go, some are worth keeping while others should be left behind. So with this notion, we will post our first picture just to prove that we can!
So here is the pic…*
So who is the person, and how does it refelct to our news service?
The answer to that question is simple. This is a stock photo of a woman who lived in Sun Valley, California c.1965. It’s a picture taken on Kodachrome film and printed as a 35mm slide. It is archived at part of this parent company’s still and moving image archive.
As for video? We will make attempts to feature video links of footage that will be connected to an article as published in future issues. is public accessible. Keep watching future issue on that notion!
So there you have it, folks! We thank you for all of your replies, and still wish to hear from you. Please see the last page of this edition on how to contact us!
See you then!!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre West opens their 2015-16 season with John Bishop’s THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940, a comical farce about a group of theater players along with its director, set to perform a backer’s rehearsal in an isolated homestead for a possible theater “angel”, only to become involved with the for noted crime along with some comical hijinks tossed in.
It’s the winter of 1940 in upstate New York, where a fierce blizzard it making its mark in the area. Elas Von Grossenknueten (Jacque Lynn Colton) a woman of financial means, hosts a team of thespians, along with a director, playwright, and musical composer, within her stately home in order for this troupe to audition their latest creation, a musical comedy called White House Merry-Go-Round where one assumes is a tuneful political satire. Marjorie Braverstock (Ivy Jones) who came out from Broadway after producing a hugh flop production, teams up with its writers Roger Hopewell and Bernice Roth (Donald Moore and Anne Leyden) to create this new musical to make up for their Broadway failure. Their team consists of Irish tenor Patrick O’Reilly (Joe Nassi), singer/dancer Nikki Crandall (Emily Rose McLeod), and comedian Eddie McCuem (Patrick T. Rogers)–a funny man what is more of knockabout vaudeville brood than someone who performs using genuine wit. The director in tow, Ken De La Maize (Scott Seiffert) in confident to have this ensemble of players all in one room to bring this new show into light. However, there is something more to be concerned about. A mad killer is on the loose dubbed The Stage Door Slasher, a mysterious being who welds a mean straight razor who did its thing on a previous musical. Helsa Wenzel (Michelle Holmes) is the maid of the Von Grossenknueten estate, and she is the first to be bumped off–or was she really bumped off? And is the maid taking another personna? And with a good whodunit, there are plenty of other procedures fit for a champion murder mystery with comedy relief, from secret passageways throughout the home’s library, Nazi agents lurking about, detectives from the NYPD hot on the case, along with a dose of Naval intelligence! It’s a classic case of a whodunit along with an encore grab to hit it big on The Great White Way–if everyone could survive first!
This is a play that holds lots of promise in terms of frantic comedy, high spirited fast paced action, crazy characters, along with a good ol’ murder mystery added to boot. It does contain the cartoonish characters that appear throughout, most notably Scott Seiffert as Ken De La Maize, and Patrick T. Rogers as Eddie McCuen who could pass as a standard 1930’s-40’s comedian appearing in two reel comic short subjects and on radio. The set as designed by “Pettifogger” does sport a load of bookcase walls that open to secret passageways, and there is a murder (or murder attempt) involved! In spite of these features, the wit and pacing of the humor factors comes and goes. There are a few enjoyable bits and one liners interjected throughout, but not enough to keep the hoofing in a swift and aloof method. Michael Van Duzer, who directed this production, does all that he can to keep the interest going for its audience. Although its first act plays to be a bit pokey, it makes up its difference for the second part of the show, enough to bring its final climax into a final climax!
Don’t be necessarily fooled by its title. THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940 isn’t really a musical per se. It’s just a high sprit theater piece that will bring more smiles that gasps from shock. Mystery and comedy had been known to be strange bedfellows throughout media culture, going back to the days of radio with Carlton E. Morse’s I Love A Mystery, to the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Scooby-Doo. With this idea stated, it appears than more amusing murder mysteries such as this one will be seen on the floorboards father down the road, especially if such comedy mysteries are period pieces that pulled them off better back in the day!
THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940, presented by and performs at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, (Universal City adjacent) until October 18th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Special talk back session with the cast and crew follows the Sunday afternoon performance on September 20th. For tickets and for more information, call (323) 851-7977, or via online at http://www.TheatreWest.org
Sami Staitman stars in the world premier of WELCOME TO MY WORLD, a solo musical presentation about the life and times of an adolescent girl living in a postmodern world, opening at the Grove Theatre Center in Burbank.
In this performance Sami plays the character of Molly, a girl that reached the awkward age of fourteen–too old to be a “tweener” yet a bit young of becoming a teenager. She vocalizes and eventually sings about much of what is going on in her life. In that rather short life (so far), she speaks upon the many elements that make her existence just what it is, from having a want list, to her chose of snacking and the consequences it may bring–or not, good and weathered friendship, her interest and lack of interest of boys, her mom wanting to be not just a mom but a “pal” (a nearly fifty year old BFF at that), the overuse of initials replacing real words, dancing with imagery partners named Fred and Gene, attending the prom, dissecting frogs in science class, and a whole lot of other topics that are importance to a girl of her age. It’s yet another saga of a woman that lived through it all with plenty more to come.
This performance by Sami Staitman is a charming little presentation that speaks about how a young girl like her views her own version of the world that exists within her life. Unlike similar solo shows where a person vents a long drawn out monologue making an attempt to hold on for ninety or so minutes without a real break, Sami’s show is told musical cabaret style. She will give a monologue on a topic (“Boys” for instance) when she will follow up with a upbeat and quirky tune that expresses about the concern in question. Bruce Kimmel creates the book, music, and lyrics to this show (also directs) that slants its delivery as a cute and bright method of telling it as it is! Sami as Molly is more of the “good kid” variety. Although she known about sex (knowing about the “P” and “V” terms), she keep herself pure, isn’t part of the “cool kids” where they know how to use a hookah, but doesn’t care much for math or science. She is more of a diva type that isn’t arrogant, but won’t turn down a musical role appearing on The Great White Way. Generally speaking, this show is very family friendly, set to the wholesomeness to a character as seen on a Disney Channel program. The only notion where it she presents herself in a sobering moment is when she recalls the passing of a grandfather she barley knew, never even knowing his real name! (Her song also expresses this form of sadness.) But as to kids of her age, she springs back to life with her every present smile, her rich persona, and a singing voice that just won’t quit!
Alby Potts provides the musical direction to this one act show, performing on the keyboards and having a bit of stage participation. (He speaks a few token lines, mugs his face to the audience, but otherwise plays out the selection of musical accords for Sami). Rei Yamamoto provides the set design consisting of a few jagged flats sprinkled in pinkish and beige color schemes with a hint of sparkleness added–the same kind of backdrops one used to see on 1970’s-era musical variety TV show. And Cheryl Baxter-Ratiff provides the choreography for Sami to tap dance her way in life, only hoofing it up with cutouts of her dancing idols.
WELCOME TO MY WORLD is a sweet, charming, and oh-so-cute version of a young girl’s life as told by a young girl. Of course, it may not necessarily reflect reality with some of the notions that kids of her ilk may face, but this is theater, not reality–and not a “reality” TV show! And even the setting where this show performs in Burbank is just a stone’s toss away from the likes of Nickelodeon and the for noted Disney Channel’s headquarters to back their facts up. After all, girls will be girls. They haven’t charged as well, outside of their music, their clothing choices, how they view adults, and their preferred method to communicate. And this isn’t TMI, either! (LOL!)
WELCOME TO MY WORLD, presented by One-Girl Entertainment and Kritzerland Entertainment, performs at the Grove Theatre Center, 1111-B West Olive Avenue, (within George Izay Park), Burbank, until October 4th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Special Sunday evening performance takes place on October 4th at 7:00 PM. For ticket Reservations, call (323) 960-7787 or reserve online at http://www.Plays411.com/World
The Falcon Theatre continues its run (as well as opening its 2015-16 season) with Theatre Impro’s SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED, a improvised rendition of a Steven Sondheim musical that could have been created by this Broadway legend, but was actually made up on the spot!
Here’s how this show operates. A rotating team of seven players of mixed genders begins by taking a token implied ideal from the theater audience, such as suggesting a family heirloom ranging from a cherished jacket, a priceless precious metal, or an object that is quite ordinary–a pickax for instance! Then the musical director on duty asks the same audience to pick four musical notes–major or minor! Once those elements are set in gear, then the team creates the book, lyrics, and music to an unnamed musical set to the tradition of a Sondheim-type creation, complete with stage movements that maneuvers the characters from one part of a near barren stage to another, complete with a song that opens the story, a series of tunes with two part choruses that enhance the progression of the characters, as well as a plot that may have a character (guy. gal, or both) that holds a dream, a desire, a feeling, and an overall sense of conflict and pathos that only Mr. S. could have dished out–expect for the fact that this theater troupe makes it up as they go along. How will this show begin? How will it make its plot twist? How will it reach its climax? Will that climax run its course? And if so, how, where, and when?
This production is part of the mastermind of Impro Theatre, a theater company based in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles lead by artistic director Dan O’Connor, that offers inprovational training to actors, actresses, and all points in between, to teach there theatre folk how to make up a play based upon a specific writer, genre, or style set to the theater subject’s modus of operation, nearly mimicking the style and method that the creator has (or had) created. In this specific show, the rotating performing team, consisting of (listed in their alphabetical order), Daniel Blinkoff, Ted Cannon, Kari Coleman, Josh Dean, Lisa Fredson, Kelly Holden Bashar, Brian Michael Jones, Brian Lohmann, Don O’Connor, Edi Patterson, Jen Reiter, Paul Rogan, Cory Rouse, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears, Floyd Vanbuskirk, and Patty Worthham, play their parts in a Sondheim-esque musical that is performed for the first time, and sadly, performed for its final period as the performance isn’t prewritten, prearranged, or even thought of before the fact! That is why this reviewer can’t give a plot away, because every show is totally different! Musical director Peter Smith, along with rotating guest musical directors Matthew Loren Cohn and Jonathan Green, play the tunes on a baby grand piano set off stage right based upon how the performers react, and on their own gut feeling, while never missing not one beat!
In addition to what’s performed on stage, Sandra Burns creates a theatre set of a barren stage with a semi circular runway ramp that leads upwards to a higher level than the floorboards itself. This higher ground can represents anything, from a balcony, the road to a heaven, or a place where the players can out out their musical feelings! Sandra also designs the consuming, suggesting a fashion mode from the 1960’s or 70’s when Steve S. was at his peak of Broadway dominance. Leigh Allen designs the lighting, while Michael Becker & Alex Caan improvises the lighting and their stage management. (Improved as well?)
Directed by Dan O’Connor & Michael Spears, SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED is a treat for those Sondheim fans and followers to enjoy, as well as from those that get their hoots from viewing musical theatre presented in a seat-of-the-pants style of staging. And if one misses a specific performance, there will be a brand new show to see–and another, and another! One will have plenty of company, either into the woods, spending Sunday in the park with george, or with the barber of Fleet Street! Whatever the case, it’s just make up Sondheim, and one can’t get better than that!
SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED, presented by Impro Theatre and performs at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, until September 27th. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM.
For reservations and for more information, call (818) 955-8101, or online at http://www.FalconTheatre.com.
Visit Impro Theatre online at http://www.ImproTheatre.com
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