Craft beers, the brands and varieties of brew that is offered outside from the so-called major breweries, is at a major upswing. According to details provided by the Brewers Association, there are more than 4000 operating breweries in the nation (4,269 to be exact) as of 2015, beating the previous record of operating breweries set in 1873, a time when a lack of transportation and refrigeration meant breweries had to be local. Thanks to the relegation of operating beer factories that began in the 1980’s, the bumper crop of breweries grew at tremendous rates.
Most of the brew places that currently exist are mostly small to middle sized breweries. In fact, 99% of all operating breweries consist of these small companies. To set this stat in numbers, there are 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs, and 178 regional craft breweries functioning as reported by the B. A. Many of the brewpubs are located within trendy restaurants with upscale bars, where the tanks that the beer is brewed are handsomely set on display all polished off in their golden metallic glory, offering a point where the joint can brag to their patrons that they make their own unique style of beer!
Not only the method of making beer is trendy, so are the styles of varieties of beer, using singular flavors that make their beers stand out from the crowd. Such ingredients consisted of the wheat, rye, and related grains that make beer just what they are, could include, but is not limited to, avocado, banana, chocolate, coconut, crème brûlée-, even beers that have a flavoring of such foodstuffs as ham and coffee! (Not in the same beer hopefully!) The list tends to be endless, making these craft beers the “soda pop” for those of legal drinking age.
With such flavorers comes their brand names. A great selection of these brands offer a title that speaks for its one matched style. These titles are either quaint (South Hearty Brew, Mellowcrest Lager, etc.) or consist of other names that have a rather edgy moniker that tends to appeal to the new(er) wave of beer drinkers, mostly the millennium crowd that are within a phase in their life where they need or want to stand out. Brands such as Dogfish Head, Fat Fire, Sexual Chocolate, Smuttynose Finest Kind, and dozens more exist within that ilk. Even its labels speak for uniqueness. Some brands are in bottles with logos that resemble fine wines. Others labels are rather cartoon and comical in style, posting figures that either resemble something one can find on a jacket belonging to a motorcycle gang member, to a figure that could have been extracted from a 1980’s-era TV cartoon show that could have aired on a long forgotten Saturday morning or an after school time of day.
And what’s the story of the bigger breweries and brands that’s been around for over a century putting out millions of barrels of brew a year? Well, those brands are still around, such as the given Budweiser, Miller, and Coors (at one time a regional brewery that offered its namesake Coors in only one section of the nation, mostly in states located west of the Mississippi river), although many of these same companies offer craft brands of beer that’s marketed within the same realm as the micro breweries do. Of these brands, they don’t hold any hint of notion stating that Goose Island and Red Hook are connected to Anheuser-Busch InBev, or Blue Moon and Third Shift are operated by MillerCoors. But for the most part, consumers of these brands don’t tend to know about this fact (let alone care) that their “own” brand of brew is made by somebody that issues beer to the masses.
And rounding our the brew business are brands that are imports that’s been around for a while (Heineken, Stella Artois, etc.) or what’s called “legacy” brands. There are beers that stated out as local or regional breweries that have survived over the years, or are brands that have been dormant for a while only to reappear offering somewhat of a nostalgia kick toward them. For instance, Leinenkugel, a brand what stated out in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, was only made available in selected parts of the Midwest, mostly in the surrounding states that border Wisconsin. The brand survived when breweries of their kind became to close down in the 1960’s and 1970’s when those small local brands of beer couldn’t compete with the so-called “big three”-Bud, Miller, and Schlitz! However, good ol’ Leinie is alive and living thanks to being bought out by MillerCoors a few years back. And Pabst, one of the national brands of beer that’s been around since the 19th century, was revived recently after the original parent company (that also made Blatz beer among other brands), ended operations. The same goes for Old Style Beer, a long time favorite once found in the Midwest, mostly in Chicago, that used to be made in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a city made famous (not Milwaukee) because of this local industry. It would be years for others to realize that the city was named after a game that a few people knew about, now viewed as a staple in late night televised matches seen on the ESPNs, or played on college campuses.
For beer drinkers, there are more brands to try then there’s the time to consume ‘em all! And with the many types of beers out there that range from sour, sweet, and in-between, one can raise a glass on high and say “Bottom’s Up!” or something to that effect! However, it won’t be long until such brands as Eastside, Brew 102, Regal Select, and the old favorite, Lucky Lager, will make its comeback in Los Angeles. Then again, Eastside (once made by Pabst), and the long list of brands once made by the General Brewing Company of Los Angeles were considered budget brands where a six pack was sold at $1.09. But that was at a time were those millenniums have no recollection to that era, (or they are not suppose to) that might be fooled as seeing these brands of old as a “new” selection! Perhaps there will be a revival for generic brands once sold at supermarkets in the 1970’s and 80’s with such names as “Beer” that looked liked their name was stenciled on to the cans that was sold a whole lot cheaper than Bud or Miller. Those kinds of beers are also just awaiting to happen again! Only time (and gumption) will tell!
Performing at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood is William Riedmann’s solo show ABDUCTED-THE SHOW, that tells a trio of stories as it occurred through William’s life.
Told in a non linear fashion, William starts off with the title episode where as a thirteen year old living in Omaha, Nebraska-known as the heartland of America, he is abducted by a stranger. Then the scene shifts a few years later as he’s a twentysomething in Hawaii encountering the “natives” that tend to look down at those that come from the mainland. Jumping ahead at age forty, he’s in Warsaw, Poland-the place where his ancestors came from, as he is with the local artisans where he stumbles across a section of the city that was once the infamous Warsaw Ghetto that existed during the days or World War II.
William Riedmann’s one man performance holds plenty of interesting situations as well as the characters he plays during these phases in his life. However, they don’t seem to have any connection to one another. Perhaps this is done as an intentional ploy. And since this show holds a short running time (running just under one hour), he takes his time expressing these mini sagas. This is done either to enhance the episodes he speaks about, or to stretch out the antidotes to make the show run a bit longer! Debra De Liso directs William as he speaks using no props or background settings to enhance what he verbalizes about. It’s just William on stage with his long frizzy hair with a hint of a beard while wearing a red flannel shirt and a pair of well worn slacks.
It’s been noted that William has other sagas to tell that he had lived through his life from his younger days to his current middle aged era. Perhaps the theatre audience will soon have a chance to experience those tales as William did, along with the characters that made it all happen!
ABDUCTED-THE SHOW, performed at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Wilcox), Hollywood, until May 19th. Showtimes are Thursday nights at 8:00 PM.
For ticket reservations, call (323) 960-7780, or via online at
Theatre West of Los Angeles presents the world premier of Charlie Mount’s THE LEATHER APRON CLUB, a political thriller about a mysterious organization that can change and control political kismets, and the outsider invited to look in providing he sets an internal makeover to one of its members.
The setting in a living room located not too far away from Washington DC in late 2001. The effects of 9/11 are taking its toll, and the USA is advancing its war on terrorism. Here in these living quarters is a gathering of some people of importance, consisting of Kent Garfield (Roger Cruz), Col. Gil Hart (Yancey Dunham), Dr. Edward Reed (Don Moss), Elliot Blake (Alan Schack), and Grace Keebler (Ashley Taylor). These folks aren’t there for a dinner party, but present for a meeting of the minds to manipulate some actions that will reflect upon the temperatures of legislative movements. This group has invited a media analyst, James Avery (Adam Conger) for this isolated summit. Adam discoverers that this shadow group, calling itself “The Leather Apron Club” has been around since Benjamin Franklin founded this clan. Although this group has been around long enough to be found in the history books, its real existence isn’t acknowledged. In fact, it’s not supposed to exist at all! James can become part of this secret tribe, but is instructed to permanently snuff out one of its members–the ailing Dr. Edward Reed. The group also holds conspiracies about. (Did this ailing Dr. Reed had something to do with the discovery of the AIDS virus as well as its unintentional spread?) Meanwhile, Artie Stein (Anthony Battelle), a political commentator who has his own cable TV call-in talk show, is attempting to expose this group to the nation’s citizens. Is this Leather Apron Club for real, or it is another “magic bullet” theory that has been floating around for a long while?
This play written and directed by Theatre West member Charlie Mount, is a deep political thriller, but not in the traditional sense of “thriller”. Instead of high powered vigor where spies chase other secret agents, the thrills exposed are found in its dialogue and the actions taken upon its characters. There are many twists and turns experienced in the plot points while never having a chance to slow down in pace or scope. (One really has to pay attention in what’s unfolding!) The ensemble cast that is featured as the members of this exclusive group and those on its outside walls performs very well with one another. Anthony Battelle as Artie Stein is the play’s “comedy relief” as he harks upon his political agenda rants that are just as left as they are right! The “fall guy” is James Avery as played by Adam Conger. He winds up in the middle of this batch that holds the power to change and control nearly any proposal with one simple phone call! He too, can have this power if he wants it!
As to the behind the scenes materials, Jeff Rack’s set design of the living room space where the group gathers is more akin to one’s elderly parents home rather than a place for a secret assembly, complete is a victorian style couch and its portrait of Benjamin Franklin hung on the wall–displayed in tribute to its founding member!
Also appearing within the cast is Karen Ragan-George as Senator Emily Greeen.
THE LEATHER APRON CLUB is as previously stated, a real action packed political thriller! Again, there are no shoot outs, explosions, or evil villains ready to take over the world. But there are intense moments that speaks for a nation ready to climb on its feet or bend at its knees. Is it real, or is it part of some conspiracy toted by some underground group? That reality is for those concerned to find out for themselves!
THE LEATHER APRON CLUB, presented by and performs at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles (Universal City adjacent), until May 15th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 851-7977, or via online at http://www.TheatreWest.org
Appearing as a guest production at the Matrix Theatre is THE STORY OF ALICE, a musical retelling of Lewis Carroll’s whimsical tale of Alice and her journey to Wonderland.
The story opens with the title character as portrayed by Jessamyn Arnstein. Emily Barnett is Simone, her elder sister. Upon chasing a rather curiously looking white rabbit (Justin W. Yu) running terribly late, Alice winds up in Wonderland, full of strange yet interesting beings that take on unique characteristics that are enchanting, yet appear as rather nonsensical. Wonderland itself is run by The Queen of Hearts (Emily King Brown) who runs this land under her own terms. And found within Wonderland is the Mock Turtle (Jolie Adamson), The Mad Hatter (Brandly Cashman), The troubadorian Cheshire Cat (Santino Tomasetti), Tweedle Dee (Nic Hodges) Tweedle Dum (Nikki D’Acico), The Commander of The Queen’s Navy (Liam Roberts), and Weasel (Brooke Brewer) who weaves Alice from one episode to another. Will Alice every find a way back home, or will she continue to fall deeper into the rabbit hole she dropped herself in?
This musical tale with book & lyrics by Michael Cormier with music by Scott Hilltzik is a very pleasant and rather appealing new spin on a classic tale. In this version, Alice outside of her Wonderland setting, is totally up to date. Alice and her elder sibling live in an upscale suburban community in a post modern age. Their unseen mother is divorced while amusing her new boyfriend for the moment, while the two sisters uses their cell phones in the same fashion as anyone of their age would do! This contemporary twist make this kind of story attractive to kids of all ages, including the adult kind! The selection of original tunes are vast and rich, appealing to those of elder age (adults) while those a lot younger would suit them just fine. (They don’t have that “cutsie” or “kiddie” sound to them!) The ensemble cast that appear are lively in their “Wonderland” mode as well! (Some of the ensemble cast play multiple roles!) With the talents of Cassie Crump’s choreography, Yee Eun Nam’s set design and moving imagery projection, Mylette Nora’s costuming, Nick Petrillo’s musical direction (with Dwight Rivera on keyboards, Sam Morgan on woodwinds, and Dave Johnstone on percussion) and Gary Lee Reed’s stage direction, one has an appealing musical retelling of a story that becomes just as ageless as it is up to date. Many of the visuals and some of the dialogue hark to current issues, but addressed in a subtle method.
The only caveat to this show is its depiction of on-stage smoking! Although many classic sagas that hold timeless appeal have elements of smoking, this post modern era looks down upon this form of vice. Although many adults will attend this production, so will kids, and these kids should experience Alice and company in a smoke free environment!
Nevertheless, THE STORY OF ALICE is a story full of imagination, whimsey, along with a place that holds just as much zaniness and it does with its own drawing power.
THE STORY OF ALICE, A Duchess Theatre Production, and performs at The Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, until May 29th. Showtimes are Friday & Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 960-4420, or online at http;//www.Plays411.com/Alice
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