STALE PEEPS AND STREAMING AS THE NEW NORMAL

     This time around, we are going to present a hybrid of topics, neither one having anything to do with the other! Call this article a “mashup” of things, as we will discuss post Easter antics and how to watch television programming where one dwells, or at least where one watches TV!
     For starters or in case one wasn’t paying attention to the days past, the previous Sunday (March 27th) was Easter Sunday, one of the few times where this holidays of sorts doesn’t fall in the month of April. It’s also the time where Passover, usually falling around the time of Easter, isn’t due for another three weeks! (That event begins on April 22nd at sundown.) Thus by the time you are reading this article, assuming you are reading this when this issue was released, Easter candy is being sold at the local retail outlets at a reduced price.
    Among the many goodies offered, from gooey filled chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and the ever present chocolate rabbits, there are those marshmallow Peeps, a brand name for a confection that consist of a yellow colored figurine of a chick made out of a marshmallow substance that has a “crusty” texture to them.
     Peeps are the favorite of those that are not only fans of Easter themed candy, but of those that enjoy this kind of goodie normally made available right after Valentine’s Day well into April. They are soft, kind of goody, and what makes them what they are is that stiff coating that gives each Peep a “stale” appearance.
     What some people do to really enjoy them is to grab as much as they can, especially after the season where they are plentiful in supply (one assumes anyway) while being offered at a discount. Once these folks grab their stash, they keep them in storage for a bit to “age” them, making these semi soft Peeps a bit on the hard(er) side. Once aged (give or take a few months), they enjoy them then when they are a bit crustier and to those same forks, more tasty!
     This writer, who enjoys a good dose of Peeps as any other candy fan would, doesn’t necessarily hoard them the same way as let’s say, somebody keeping bottled of aging wine and related sprits, but has discovered that Peeps are a lot better when they are aged a bit. It doesn’t take a long time to make them this unique. Again, just keep those boxes of Peeps set within a cool dry place and let ‘em sit for a bit. Come Halloween time, when other are wolfing down the candy obtained while going door to door donning costumes one would never wear any other time of year, one can be enjoying those yellow (and sometimes blue) Peeps, knowing that this kind of candy is one of a kind, and won’t be available until those hard candy hearts are being sold at a deep(er) discount. So much for the diet!
     Now on to other things! Not too long ago, a report that came from the marketing and research firm NDP Group states that streaming television, the task where video programming is provided by way of a high speed internet connection as to receiving the signal via coax cable, a satellite dish, or through traditional over the air broadcasts, has reached 52% of households that sports a TV device and the internet connection that goes along with it.
     According to the report, some 49 million American based homes has at least one set connected to a streaming device–a separate and free standing plastic cube a bit larger than a hockey puck that allows the user to see video programming coming from an internet connection. Many of the gaming machines out there, such as a newer XBox or a Playstation unit, can stream as well!
     The report also states that on average, three devices (2.9 to be exact), including video game consoles, streaming media players, DVD disc players, and the occasional VHS machine, is connected to a TV. The report continues that some 734 million connected devices are in use within internet wired homes, an increase of 64 million installed and connected devices over the previous year.
     What makes this report stand out that is the percentage of TV homesteads receiving their video programming via an internet connection has reached the majority level. Any element that stands as 51% and up is now considered as a majority, meaning that streaming is the “new normal” when it comes to video communication.
     The leader of streaming stands with Netflix, the company that started out to offer rentals of DVDs through mail order at a monthly charge. Although this service still offers the DVD mail order service, many people are taking their streaming service where for the same price (less than $10.00 per month), one can view as much content one desires within that thirty day period. This translates as one building their own TV network where they can watch what they want, when they want, and how many times they want at the flick of a remote control device!
     Although Netflix may be the most common source, they are far from being the only source. Companies ranging from Hulu to Amazon, and even the traditional cable and over the air services has gone into the streaming biz! HBO, Showtime, as well as the traditional over the air networks offer streaming. Therefor, one no longer needs a cable connection or a TV set to watch programming. Any electronic device that can connect to the internet can perform this duty is ease!
      Will this streaming of video kill traditional TV services as it’s known today? It’s hard to tell as it’s too new to figure. Granted, Netflix did indeed kill the video rental store that was the norm from the late 1970’s well into the early 10’s! (Blockbuster Video, perhaps the biggest video rental store of them all, ceased to exist around 2013 closing their remaining stores when Dish Network bought the company assists at a “fire sale” price!) What is making streaming video just what it is, is its original content. Many TV shows and feature length titles never seen before are there for the streaming, rather that just  limiting themselves through providing second party programming. As TVs and related devices become smarter, so will streaming.
     Again, the TV machines out there are much more smarter than ever before. However, the smartness on hand is just  limited to what these TV machines and related electronic devices can do, not necessarily speaking for the content provided as well as the viewers that consume ‘em! When it comes to judge the intelligence of the viewers, that’s a whole other issue as that stands! But whatever one does, enjoy these shows as one can while scarfing down a whole batch of Peeps aged to perfection! As the the ol’ saying notes, life is good!
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                                       NEWS AND REVIEWS
     Two separate shows are currently performing in tandem at The Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.
     The first selection making its West Coast premier, is Deedee O’Malley’s WAITING FOR JOHNNY DEPP, is a musical tale of one Rita Sophia Adelina Donatella Zeitz a.k.a. Rita Donatella, played by Deedee O’Mally, a New York bread actress who is seeking her big break. Employed as a lab technician by day, she goes through the struggles of becoming a working actress. With a mother who calls her up on the hour only to nag about her current conditions, her only real emotional family support is a brother that believes in the choosing of her given career. Things start to look bight for Rita when she lands a part in an upcoming feature film starring Johnny Depp. But she must first prepare for the part. The director wants her to lose twenty pounds, and to drop her “Niewe Yawk” accent! Things then turn for the worst when the film’s financing falls through, around the time she quit her job at the lab! Soon, things start to look pretty bleak for this actress and she nearly tuns into a starving one! Will Rita ever get back on her feet as a thespian? Will she completely bond with the two loves of her life; a boyfriend named Phoenix who accepts her acting career (‘cuz he’s one, too), and chocolate–a treat that understands everything! And will her wait for J.D. ever come true?
     This musical showcase featuring Deedee O’Mally as Rita is an amusing saga that speaks for the many actresses that are trying to hit the big time either in New York for the theater, and Hollywood for moving pictures. (TV as well!) This presentation, with book and lyrics by Deedee and Janet Cole Valdez and music by O’Malley, Valdez, and Bettie Ross with additional music by Tom Valdez, is based upon actual events that occurred by both Deedee and Janet. (One will assume that these all-true episodes are peppered with a lot of creative license added!) Although the story line does have its hits and lulls, the musical score is rather catchy with Rita the actress signing about her highs and lows of becoming a full fledged star making it big on the silver screen!
     In addition, Deedee can act as she does while prancing around on stage through her selected musical numbers. She can even sing as well as she could dance! Thanks to Zonnie Bauer’s choreography, and Bettie Ross’ musical direction (she also performs on the keyboards providing the musical notes), this show is not only a solo show with Rita the only one seen on stage, but it tends to be a family one as well in terms of the behind the scenes stuff. Michael O’Malley provides the limited set design that consist of a few pieces of furnishings, and Devin O’Malley is the assistant sound engineer!
     This program is a prime example of the “less-is-more” method of theater, with the music and talent provided by Deedee is its real focus. Again, she sings, acts, dances, and provides all of the comedy and drama this presentation addresses. In addition to Deedee’s vocals, Michael Duff provides the transcribed singing voice of Tony, Rita’s sibling.
     Directed by Holly Friedman, WAITING FOR JOHNNY DEPP is a wait worth waiting for! It’s not often that would-be stars as the Ritas of the acting world can land a role opposite one of Hollywood’s hotter leading men. Even if Rita never lands the part, the results just winds up as another day in the life of an actress!

     The second show, making its world premier, is Phil Scarpaci and T. L. Shannon’s BABY OH BABY, a comedy that features Amy Tolsky and Felicity Wren as Bella and Angie, two half sisters living in a London flat that was at one time an oversized single house divvied up long before. Bella runs a home based internet match making service, while Angie just tries to run her life. Both are single and approaching middle age. Angie feels that her biological clock is ticking away. Although she’s not too lucky in finding a romantic partner, she desires to have a child. Bella feels that her romantic hopes are rather thin as well, in spite of the fact that she matches others with some form of success. The only other men in their life is their landlord Weena (Douglas Scott Sorenson), a flamboyant guy who would prefer the company of others of his own gender, and a somewhat suitor of Angie’s, a bloke named Rory. (Andrew Katers) Angie with her passion to have a child, uses the aid of a sperm donor named Chris (Kaelan Strouse) whose purpose is to provide his “seed” through artificial methods,  so his delivery of the “goods” is strictly on a business level! It’s a matter of providing the demands of a pair of middle aged women through a rather and somewhat alternative form of fashion.
     This single act play written by T. L. Shannon (a Brit) and Phil Scarpaci (an American), takes a plot of love and romance by two women who are not getting any younger and the men in their lives seeking something else that the two gals can’t provide, and updates this notion to post modern standards. The comedy and wit depicted is sharp and presented within the same mode to a 1950’s-era Ealing Studios comedy reworked for an early 21st century audience. It’s also presented in the same style of a British stage farce, with well formed characters, a basic plot with complex story elements sprinkled throughout, and is true to be very British! (Many slang terms well known in the U.K. and its territories are used within the dialogue. A handy thesaurus of its “English” translation is included within the program!) The only elements lacking are some of those standard marks usually found in said British farces, such as the running in and out of doors, mistaken identities, and the characters in various stages of undress! But the lack of slapstick is made up for the intelligent lines and phrases spoken by its mostly American cast. (Felicity Wren as Angie is the only true Brit performing within a group of Yanks!) Phil Scarpaci directs this show that never sags in its comical timing.
     As to the staging seen in this one act stage piece, Emmy Weldon provides the set dressing of Angie and Bella’s flat, making their living space rather unkempt but comfortable, with Ellen Greenberg’s costuming showing off the characters and the roles they live with and within.
     Perhaps the most unique character of this play is the fact that it has yet to perform in the mother country it speaks for! BABY OH BABY was “born” in this theater located in the middle part of the San Fernando Valley located some 10,000 miles away (give or take) from the U.K! However, one would never know this fact as it’s just as British as a spot of tea or engaging in the art of cheering for one’s favorite football team! (Not the gridiron variety!) It also shows that the notion of looking for love in all of the wrong places is universal, and so the “out” living of a personal lifestyle. Whatever the case, this play is very charming and just as witty. Rue Britannia!

     WAITING FOR JOHNNY DEPP, presented by K.I.S.S. Theatricals, performs on Friday nights at 8:00 PM through April 29th. For ticket reservations or for more information, visit the website http://JohnnyDepp.BrownPaperTickets.com

     BABY OH BABY, presented by Scarpaci/Kelly Productions, performs on Saturday nights at 8:00 PM through June 4th. For ticket reservations, call (800) 838-3006, or online at http://BabyOhBaby.BrownPaperTickets.com
    Both shows perform at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd. (at Sunnyslope), in Sherman Oaks. ———————————————————————————
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