Over the “Holiday” season, an in-law of mine received a self given Christmas gift; A 32” so-called “smart” TV set, a device that can be linked to an internet connection in order to receive streaming services without a the use of a set top box.
     This in-law of mine named Claire, is a middle aged woman that is wired to the max. She’s constantly on her iPhone texting her two kids now in their early 20’s, over various domestic family matters. She recently moved from her humble home near the foothills of Glendale after living there for some 20+ years with her late husband, raising the two kids and maintaing the homestead. With her two kids now off on their own, as well as the absence of her deceased spouse, she felt it was time to downsize. She moved into a cozy and somewhat smaller sized apartment in Tarzana. Although she now lives in a “less-is-more” environment, the only element that actually increased within her surroundings is her gadgetry.
    Back in her other place, she still used the 60” large screen TV that was the rage on the early 1990’s; A big bulky unit that ate up the entire side of the living room wall, sporting a picture that was anything but high def. It projected the image from a prism light device that reflected onto the screen. Taking upon what was available TV wise in the 1990’s, this set was hot stuff! In today’s world, it was reduced to “s#it”! (Her words to describe the set–not this writer’s!)
     Anyway, she upgraded to not one, but three sets–all hi-def flat screens (is their any other?) ready, willing, and able to take on what’s given to ‘em! While she upgraded the TV machines, she also grabbed a new iPhone 6, loaded to the gills with nearly anything and everything! She uses the hand held device as her lifeline for everything that’s important to her, many of these same important functions are not necessarily known to yours truly. (As if I really care!)
     Because of her relocation from Glendale to Tarzana, she changed cable TV services. Time Warner, the company that services that part of the San Fernando Valley, gave her a sweetheart deal where she receives 200+ channels of programming, as well as her full blown internet services. The services include a package of video “channels” for streaming, including the more popular sources such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the biggest name in the business, Netflix.
     Within the last few years, Netflix and its many competitors has changed the way people watch video programming, not necessarily limited to viewing on the dedicated TV devices. One can watch these same programs via their phone and electronic pads. (Claire included!) Although Netflix offers more theatrical features one can ever watch in one sitting, their trump card (so to speak) is the collection of original titles made available arranged in the style of a traditional cable or broadcast network. Its only difference is the fact that they don’t air on a specific time or day. Its available when the viewer wants it–no matter when, where, and how much of it!
     Because of the content made available as the number of different titles, these streaming programs have been acknowledged through many groups and organizations that deal in TV related video, from the Television Academy (formally known as the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences), to the Paley Center for Media, as “television programs”, although the content isn’t distributed via coax cable, a satellite signal, or over the air. This form of programming is free from scheduling conflicts, as well as regulations from various “standard and practices” departments traditional cable channels keep and maintain. (“Standard and Practices” is a nicer sounding term that described the censors, the programming body within the network that dictates what can be said or shown and what can’t!) Although Netflix, et. al, does warn what type of content will be depicted on their shows, it’s nearly a “anything goes” attitude! A new animated series that will appear on Netflix that is akin to Fox’s cartoon series Family Guy, has the same edgy and cocky humor that FG offers, but this time the characters cuss, supposedly adding to the snarky attitude this show desires to offer.
     In spite of all of this programming ready to be taken at a moment’s whim, Claire loves the fact that she can watch nearly anything she desires, although she seems to not have enough time to take part. However, it’s there for the taking, and she will take it when she has the first opportunity to do so!
     As 2016 progresses, there will be a lot more programming made available through streaming, promoting more folks to “cut the cord” and get their video viewing no matter where or when, just as long their is internet service somewhere. As with Claire’s situation, the only notion to deal with is not only what to watch, but when and where! Of course, one cal always read a book. That’s what those electronic book devices are for, unless one is streaming something on ‘em!
                                           NEWS AND REVIEWS
     Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents the American premier of TWO SISTERS, Gail Louw’s melodramatic play about a pair of seasoned siblings who share a few common bonds while partaking in two different paths within their lives.
     The setting is a kibbutz located somewhere in the state of Israel in the latter years of the 20th century. Living in a homestead on the settlement is Rika (Sharron Shayne) and her elder sister Edith (Leda Siskind). Edith, who just celebrated her 75th birthday, has been living on the kibbutz for some time. She feels at home in spite of the political side the nation is settling upon. Rika, a few years her junior, is more geared toward her own life. She raised a daughter, and is proud of her granddaughter who turned eighteen. Rika decides to head over to the USA–New York in particular, with her granddaughter in tow for an extended stay. The granddaughter has a boyfriend that Rika isn’t necessarily pleased over, but will just tolerate him. Edith, alone for her many years, also has a gentleman in her life with an option to live with the man. Over the course of a twenty four hour period, these two family members go through their emotions. Some of these sentiments are pleasant, while a few are dark and even horrifying. But sisters are they are, they do keep each other in mind with the emotional support such family members possess.
     This piece written by British bred Gail Louw, based the two characters Rika on her own mother, while her aunt (Edith) once lived on a kibbutz. She had taken these people from her background as inspiration and created a play that focus upon the two leads as family members that undergo personal sibling rivalry, rather then a pair of “old friends” that agree on things as much as they disagree over those same motions–meaning they they still hold heart toward the other! Sharron Shayne and Leda Siskind as the pair of sisters present themselves as two sprits who have existed through their high points and lower marks in life. Although their characters may be old(er) in age, they still retain their youngness in sprit and soul. Stewart J. Zully directs this one act play that adds equal parts of humor and drama, never having one topic overpowering the other. This idea presents itself as a positive concept. The two characters as imaged on stage are far removed from the kind of casting one may see in a sitcom where the  “little old ladies” portrayed are ditzy, goofy in attitude, and ready for a cheap laugh!
     Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s resident set designer, dresses the set of Edith’s home that resembles a humble bungalow found in a older urban neighborhood stateside. It isn’t necessarily known by this writer if such a home base resembles typical living quarters found on a kibbutz located overseas. However, it is pleasing to see as a background nevertheless.
     TWO SISTERS is an appealing play because it examines how family members, no matter how many years have gone by and how many episodes they are lived through, still remain honored toward one another. That is a notion not necessarily found in families in these present times, no matter what did take place or not!

     TWO SISTERS, 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 February 21st. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
     For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at
     Write Act Repertory presents the world premier of PILLARS OF NEW YORK, Michael Antin’s musical about a therapist completing a book about four of his clients, and the tragedy that not only affected them all, but affected the entire world!
     The scenes take place at the start of the new millennium. Jake Kelly (Wayne Moore) is a therapist based in New York City, working from his office in lower Manhattan. He’s working on a book that studies four of his clients that are undergoing their own personal trails. His assistant Wendy (Elizabeth Sekora) is working with him transcribing his notes about the subjects he is writing about. Although he won’t mention any of them by name in his book, Wendy feels that his work is getting a bit too much into their personal lives. The subjects he deals with features a middle age woman still living with her adult son that desires to have him on his own and perhaps settle with the man of his dreams (his preference in partner), the couple from Oklahoma who is struggling financially yet still earn a decent living, another couple consisting of the breadwinner (the wife) while the husband struggles to become a writer along with the fact that the wife discovers she’s pregnant, the couple involved with an affair, as well as Wendy and her relationship. What binds everyone together is the fact that all involved either work or live near the World Trade Center, a pair of towering buildings that is another part of the Manhattan landscape. Then 9/11 hits, affecting everyone both physically or emotionally. Jake then attempts to continue the book he was writing about shortly after the fact, now taking everything and everyone involved into a different prospective.
     This single act musical with book, music, and lyrics by Michael Antin, tells a story about a professional therapist using the people that come to his aid as a case study, only to become sidetracked by an episode that is far more than humanity could every withstand. The storyline this musical employs is a blend of how such a tragic aspect not only changed things is a rhapsodic method, but how all involved had to cope through the circumstances. The musical numbers are upbeat and lively, in spite of the subject matter it speaks of. There is nothing music wise one can label as “happy”, but it isn’t presented in hushed tones either! The ensemble cast featured that also include Julian Goza, Eloise Coopersmith, Gary Mortimer, Marza Warsinske, Bobby McGlynn, and Molly Gilman, perform their roles in a progressive method, as each one has their share in vocalizing their selection of musical numbers presented. They all work under the musical direction of Rob Bowers, performing the score on the keyboards. Unlike traditional stage musicals, there are no dance numbers interpreted per se, although director Jim Blanchette keeps the cast moving throughout.
     This showcase is ideal to view within an intimate stage setting as all of the plotting and performance is displayed inside a tight space. It’s never overcrowded, but ingrained nevertheless! The scenic stage backdrop as compiled by Angela Acuna, Alonzo Tavarea, and Jim Blanchette, is simple yet to the point. Only a few furnishings are depicted as floating scenes that utilize the “less-is-more” modus of theater staging.
     PILLARS OF NEW YORK is a stirring musical that doesn’t promise any happy endings, a conclusion usually found in a fitting selection of other musicals. However, it also depicts a moment in world history that’s been written and depicted in just about all existing forms of  perceivable expression over the past few years, and will continue throughout the annals of time. This show itself is a gem, and holds the promise that it will go far within the theater world. Until then, it’s recommended that one experiences this program on an intimate stage setting as seen in North Hollywood. This show is highly recommended!

     PILLARS OF NEW YORK, presented by Write Act Repertory, and performs at The Write Act Rep at The Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove Street located one block northeast of the intersection of Camarillo, Lankershim, and Vineland, North Hollywood, until February 21st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 1:30 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (800) 838-3006 ext. 1, or via online at
     “Like” the Write Act Rep on Facebook at
———————————————————————————   CORRECTION:  This newsletter presented the incorrect date for the Razzie Awards. The event will take place on Saturday, February 27th.
     For more details, visit the official Razzies web site at
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