THE BEGINNING OF THE (HOLIDAY) END

       This week kicks off the start of the final fast paced six weeks of the calendar year. This is the period when three of the biggest holidays of the year begins to make its mark within the hearts and minds(?) of people living in local society. Kicking off the antics is the holiday called “Thanksgiving”, that time where one is suppose to count their blessings and to be thankful for that they have, in spite of the fact that folks tend to think what they don’t have instead of what they do possess. The next holiday to deal with isn’t just one holiday, but several that is celebrated by selected groups. It was once limited to a time called “Christmas”. Originally noted to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ who wasn’t necessarily born on December 25th since the civilized world was running under another calendar, this day was a festive time where people would place decorations around their homes and other places, and throughout the many years, added customs and rituals that took place around that time. Some of these traditions came and went. Others were added where they remain to this very day. It wound up to be the most celebrated holiday in most of the world. Nowadays, and especial within the last twenty of so years (at least in the USA and perhaps Canada), the time called “Christmas” had been changed to be known as a generic time called “The Holidays”, merging Christmas with Hanukah, a Jewish based celebration that is far older than Christmas, Kwanzaa, a celebration that falls for the full final week of the calendar year that takes on its traditions based on Hanukah, and is commemorated by the Negro/Black/African-American Community. (The celebration was first commemorated c.1966. Thus, this writer used all of the terms of the celebrants that reflect the era this holiday existed!) There are other holidays as well that is commemorated in the month of December, many of these events are not necessarily known to this writer. However, “The Holidays” tend to cover all of these December events with room to add more celebrations that are created over time and tide. Winding up this group is New Year’s Eve and Day. Although New Year’s Eve-December 31st, isn’t necessarily a holiday per se, this time to ring out the old year and ring in the new is a holiday in its own right since there isn’t much to do to end the year, so why not take advantage? New Year’s Day (January 1st) is the real holiday to note. With all notation being stated, these group of celebrations are perhaps the most frantic of all of the holidays that fall throughout the calendar year. Not only because everything tends to take place all at once, it’s also a moment where those that have a link to a family, based upon the definition that a family consists of a group of people that are either related to one another through blood or marriage, or a group of people that have deep concern with one another, gather together to take place in all of the celebratory antics connected to the holidays in question. Although much of what does occur is within a positive and joyful realm, a lot of what strikes causes deep and emotional conflict and stress. Thanksgiving tends to take a lot of the blame connected to such emotional trauma. Many people travel from point “A” to “B” getting somewhere to gather with their family (real or otherwise), where for a number of days, they reunite with one another, having that meal to end all means, and to kick off The Holiday season with taking part in commerce. This means heading out to where one shops, real or virtual, and spend away looking for the biggest bargains around, either as gifts for somebody else or for themselves. For most of December, other stress factors roll in, from shopping, baking, over eating and/or drinking, and attempting to have some kind of fun. Some of the fun moments do arrive, and a lot of it just never shows up! To sum that emotional episode in a few words, yours truly will quote cartoonist Bill Griffith’s creation, Zippy The Pinhead who stated, “Are we having fun yet?” This writer will not dwell upon the somber times these final six weeks will present to a few. Most will indeed take part of these times with glee and excitement. Although they may experience some type of emotional stress, once everything is all over with, they will be glad that they did take full advantage of what went on, and will gladly do it all over again no matter what! After all, it’s all in the name of tradition, and that is what traditions are all about–right??                   ———————————————————————————-

                                       NEWS AND REVIEWS

     Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents their third production of the 2015-16 season with PERFECT TIMING, Kristi Kane’s comical farce about an art critic’s choice between the man she loves, the artist who she adores, and the others that come and go who also have their concealed flings with one another, if not one or the other! The setting takes place within the lavish English flat of art critic Cornelia Thorndike (Helen Anker) who writes about what’s the latest in the art world. She has a suitor, the gentleman banker Alex (Martin Thompson) who she cherishes. Her eyes are shortly set upon a younger man, a canvas artist named Gerrard (Shawn Savage). He plays the part of a budding artist type. He’s a bit scruffier, not as intelligent, but holds enough charm to woo Cornelia. After having this little fling for a while, she announced to Alex that she and Gerrard has become an item. In return, Alex takes the message is stride, only to take off to America where he becomes aquatinted with Laura (Sarah Kaidanow), a Texan who is much younger than Alex, and even younger then Gerrard! Gerrard soon falls for a bubbly French woman Lulu (Aly Fainbarg) who has yet to master the English language. Cornelia has to juggle all of these relationships that come and go. Her secretary and “right hand woman” Vivianna (Christine Joelle) keeps her boss in line through these ordeals–if she doesn’t get into an affair herself! This diverting play can be described as a cross between a British drawing room comedy and a French bearing parody. The French method tends to lean toward the bawdy, but in this case, the sexual antics are much more subdued. The British take uses the standard manners of such traits as mistaken identities, folks running in and out of doors, as well as the mandatory form on becoming underdressed. However, as to keep the French style within wraps, the British take on frantic delivery is also depicted to its minimum. The relationships are those taken as mistaken, a few people do come and go within the room setting, and nobody is seen sans clothing! The play’s comedy relies upon the wit within the dialogue, although one would have to wait until the second act to feel the comical delivery to fully kick in. The entire cast of players that do appear in this production, with the exception of Sarah Kaidanow as Laura and Aly Fainbarg as Lulu, speak in their British tones that make this comedy a pleasure to hear. (The Laura character speaks with a Texas twang while Lulu sounds overly French!) In addition to the above noted cast of performers, Dennis Gersten appears as Foxworth, and Thomas Webb stars as Dingham, two others who takes part in the relationship game of the moment! What makes this play also appealing is the set design by Theatre 40 resident set designer Jeff G. Rack, showing off a large and elegant British apartment that resembles more of an elegant county homestead-the perfect place to have folks come and go when the desire calls for such! And with the sets comes Michele Young’s costuming of the cast that range from the slackly to the elegant, showing off all sides and elements to the fashion coin. Directed by Bruce Gray, PERFECT TIMING is farcical, amusing, charming, and perhaps the best English comedy written by an American playwright! Krist Kane is currently writing an alternative rendering of this play that takes the same plotting yet holds a gay twist. (Both meanings used!) It would be interesting to see that version once it’s refined. In the mean time, there’s the original that works just as well! The title perfectly described what is its result, and it indeed shows itself quite nicely!

     PERFECT TIMING, presented by Theater 40, and performs in the Reuben Corova Theater located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until December 21st. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Special Wednesday night performances take place on December 2nd and 16th at 8:00 PM. No performances on November 26th and 27th.      For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org                                                                   ———————————————————————————-  

     The Latino Theatre Company presents THE LATINA CHRISTMAS SHOW, a presentation that features a trio of Latina performers that gather together for the season to tell about their own personal sagas that’s all about “that wonderful time of the year”, and currently plays at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Maria Russell, Sandra Valls, and Diana Yanez are the three Latinas in question. The setting takes place in Sandra’s living room space around Christmastime. These gals are gathered together as a group of “BFFs” that partake in some holiday cheer. As they cerebrate attempting to play some tunes on a piano while drinking tequila, Maria, Sandra, and Diana exchange their own personal tales on how they spent their Christmases from not so long ago through their own unique background, styles and traditions. Maria’s upbringings came from her Lithuanian father and Mexican mother while living in Sun Valley in the northern end of the San Fernando Valley. Sandra’s parents were pure Mexican based in Laredo, Texas. Diana came from Miami, where anyone of hispanic origin living in south Florida were Cuban. Each one had their own unrivaled way on how Christmas was spend in their homes, from Christmas dinners to gifts received (or not received), and by way of family, friends, and those that passed through their homestead doorways. Traditions handed down from their native countries clashed with the American lifestyle in the era they experienced then-mostly in the 1970’s and 80’s where some innocence still remained. Although what they had was fine and accepted, they are indeed grateful that they can spend a Christmastime in today’s diverse community. This performance, written and performed by Maria Russell, Sandra Valls, and Diana Yanez isn’t told as a standard “play” as there isn’t so much of a plot to speak of. The show consists of these three very talented performers verbalizing about their past lives around Christmas. The setting of a living room type party is really used as a bridge as this show is really a blend of three combined solo shows. Each person takes center stage to emote one at a time while the remaining two sit back on the living room couch to listen, if not making a comment or blurb either to enhance the story told, or to segue into another part of the show. In fact, this show is reminiscent to one of those 1960’s-era Christmas TV specials that once dotted the television landscape where a celebrity host would appear among a living room set, performing in musical numbers while participating in other musical numbers and/or comedy skits with the “special guest stars”. Although this show features an ensemble cast, each performer stands out on their own, as each one has a separate personality along with a unique method of comic delivery. The show stars out slow at first as the comical tales of Christmas past and present kicks in later as everyone becomes more “loose”–either through their friendship bonding or through the tequila consumed! (They are not really drinking tequila on stage. It’s actually Gatorade–but don’t take that fact as a spoiler alert!) As to the behind the scenes stuff, Michael Navarro provides the set design of Sandra’s living room space, complete with couch placed center front, davenport rear center, piano off stage right (house left), and Christmas tree at stage left-house right. Ivan Robles provides the sound design, and Yee Eun Nam provides the video design as projected at the back end of the stage setting that would normally stand as the rear living room wall. This projection illustrates to what these gals are speaking about, usually showing off old photos of each one from a childhood Christmas, complete with “funny” clothing styles and funnier hairdos that didn’t live up through the annals of time. Directed by Geoffrey Rivas, THE LATINA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL is a very charming and amusing showpiece. Its method of delivery is very much like attending a low key party consisting of three people who care for one another, and are brave enough to confess how their Christmases were far from perfect! Many folks have attended such parties, exchanging stories of what they did for Christmas rather then “the holidays”. Alas, those get togethers were for one time only without an audience to watch. Here, one can see it all to laugh along, and perhaps take part in the sentiment recalled.     

     THE LATINA CHRISTMAS SHOW, presented by the Latino Company Theatre, and performs at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 South Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles, until December 20th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Special performances take place on Mondays, December 7th and 14th at 7:30 PM, and Wednesday, December 9th at 8:00 PM. No performances on November 26th, December 10th and 12th.      For ticket reservations or for more information, call (866) 811-4111, or via the web site at http://www.TheLATC.org                                                                 

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    CREED (MGM/Warner Bros./New Line) tells the saga of Adonis Johnson nee Creed (Michael B. Jordan). He grew up on the mean streets of Los Angeles, living a hard life and getting into trouble, spending time in various juvenile halls. He never knew his father and barely knew his mother; That is, until a woman, Mary Ann Creed (Phylicia Rashad) takes him in. It seems that the young Adonis was an illegitimate child of famed prizefighter Apollo Creed. Like the father he never knew (Apollo died when Adonis was born), he desires to become a boxer, keeping the name he was given rather than living through the legacy of a greater fighter. Many years later as a young man, he performs his fighting in Mexico earning meager wages. He feels that he can get the training he needs through perhaps the best trainer he could find; The man that beat his long gone dad, the one and only Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). In the present time, Rocky has long left the world of boxing, managing a restaurant in Philadelphia named after the woman that served as his guide, Adrian. (Now deceased). At first, Rocky is hesitant to train the young Creed. But knowing that he succeeded in beating this father in the ring some forty years before, he gives Adonis the opportunity not only to train, but to become a figure in this sport. Meanwhile, Adonus meets with Blanca (Tessa Thompson) a singer and performer playing in a local club. The two do become an item, while Adonis has his chance to prove himself worthy of a title where he is challenged to fight “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellow) an Englishman who fought in the meaner streets of Liverpool. It’s up to the fate of Adonis to beat this champ, being trained by another champ who is a living legend in his own right. This entry in the long running Rocky series may be a sequel by name and character, but doesn’t play as one. It’s more of what’s referred to as a “throwback” feature–an old movie designed as a new one! It harks of a 1930’s-era boxing film, complete with the elements of action, drama, thrills, with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure! Sylvester Stallone as his greatest screen character plays his role as very mellow due to his charactor’s age and his physical condition. (Would it be a spoiler alert to note that Rocky is ill with a incurable disease?) Rocky himself is aware of his roots, and takes Adonis as played by Michael B. Jordan as the son he really wanted! (Rocky’s “real” son is only referred to but never depicted.) Jordan is great playing a prizefighter with his ability to do his stuff in the ring. Alas, his personality isn’t too much to speak for! (He’s no Ali!) But that isn’t what this film is all about! Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington’s screenplay based on a story by Coogler who also directs, is more melodramatic in character than a standard post modern sports film where such titles tend to be cliché-esque. Sure, there are the training montages, but those settings are played to a minimum. The fight scenes bring on most of the action depicted, thanks to the tight editing by Claudia Castello and Michael P. Shawver, high speed cinematography by Maryse Alberti, and set to Ludwig Göransson’s original music score. As with the many Rocky films, one does hear the “Gonna Fly Now” song, but only for a brief time as this picture may be another entry of the Rocky saga, it’s mostly the story of an older and wise fighter teaching the young and slightly green boxer to live on the sprit of the sport. Since this title is being released at the end of this year, it’s more likely that voters of movie awards will recall this picture more than ever, and just may get some nominations for something. Michael B. Jordan could be considered as well as Stallone, now showing his age and is in need of some creditable roles. Whatever the case, this film is ideal for boxing fans or for those that care for a good solid story! Again, sports films of recent date tends to play out as  loud and annoying. CREED is far from annoying! In fact, it’s quite appealing, and seeing Rocky back on the streets of Philly is always refreshing–even though his first entry occurred some forty years before back when movies were…movies! This feature is rated “PG-13” for mild cussing and boxing related violence. Opens on November 25th at all of the regular multiplexes nationwide.                                                                                                                             ———————————————————————————-

     On behalf of the staff and management of Accessibly Live Off-Line, we wish each and everyone of you a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll be back next week with more of the news and information you really care about! See you next week!                                                ———————————————————————————-

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