In this third week of 2017, long after the Christmas decorations were taken down while dead Christmas trees still sit along curbsides, the lists of 2016 were already compiled and “published”. (We use the term “published” since many of these so-called lists were not limited to print). The predictions of what’s 2017 going to bring have been guesstamated especially on this week as come Friday the 20th, a new king will be crowned. Among these shenanigans, there has been a number of folks that never made it when it came to the new year’s resolutions they were support to compile at the end of the previous year.
One person that this writer knows who I’ll call “Olif” (not so much to protect this person’s privacy, but to protect my own self from possible lawsuits), has started to make a list of resolutions that this person will conduct for the 2017 calendar year.
Olif recently told me at an informal luncheon held shortly after the first of the year announced with some kind of lower key method, that this person will be making a list of things and related assignments that will be performed in this new(er) year. Olif didn’t state what these resolutions consisted of, but noted that these are notions created as self promises, and will become “locked and loaded”! (That was Olif’s quote, not this writer’s!)
First of all, I am glad for Olif for making up a list of things that will be kept for the year, even though it was announced a few days after January 1st. However, only time will tell if good ol’ Olif will keep those promises to itself. (I am purposely hiding Olif’s gender. That is the reasoning behind using words that are not limited to “he” or “she”. So I’ll call Olif an “it”!)
As this same ol’ writer stated in an article that ran in the previous issue, making commitments can become a challenge to a person. These lists tend to become rules where one has to do this and do that, while not being able to do that and do this! It’s not so much as a wish list, but a harsh order! Think of this method as a boss at work yelling at its employees to work harder, longer, and faster. And to do such without any promises of receiving bonuses, promotions, or any other form of incentives. The only reward that will be received for this hard work is either 1)-more work, or 2)-not being fired!
Although our dear ol’ pal Olif is on the right track when it comes to making promises to keep for its own good even though it’s slightly after the fact, it is always a good idea to keep a number of personal goals in mind. It doesn’t have to be a laundry list of self afflicted commands to do by a certain time, but to hold on to those goals to commit throughout the year. Many people state they for the new year that they will be in better physical shape by going to a local gym to work out. Many of these gym facilities see a spike in attendance in January. By the first week in February, that attendance tends to fall, and by the end of February, that spike seen in the month beforehand is back to where is was before January 1st. Since Olif’s new year’s resolutions were never made public, this writer can’t state that “hitting the gym” was on that list. So the above notion won’t apply toward Olif’s keep, even though it’s based upon a proven fact! (Ask any of the local gyms if more people showed up in January comparing to any of the previous months!)
But as the lists for the year have already been settled, it’s time to move on into new ventures. And if anyone is really concerned, we’ll keep you posted on Olif’s progress or lack thereof! Assuming that anyone wants to know, let alone care!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre Palisades opens their 2017 theater season with William Inge’s modern classic PICNIC, a story that takes place in an ideal midwestern town where a number of its inhabitants live upon various stages in their lives, with a young outsider adding to the small town drama.
The play sets itself in a rural community in Kansas around the mid point of the 20th century. Helen Potts (Laura Goldstein) and Flo Ownes (Sue Hardie) are neighbors and good friends. Helen lives with her elderly mother while Flo is a mother herself, raising two daughter on her own-sixteen year old Millie (Jessica Mason) and eighteen year old Madge (Krystyna Ahlers). It’s the Labor Day weekend, and the big event is the community picnic. Madge will be attending the picnic with her beau Alan Seymour (Spencer Rodman), a recent college graduate. Flo has high hopes for this couple as she desires for the two to marry, a upscale change for Flo as she sans a husband and provider. Living with Flo as a boarder is local schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney (Wendy Taubin) a middle aged woman who never married. Stepping into the scene is Hal Carter (Nicholas Dostal) a drifter who is staying with Helen while performing odd jobs for her. Alan and Hal were once frat brothers in college., but Hal dropped out hoping to make a career as a beefcake star in Hollywood. He eventually returned without reaching this goal. Through his presence, he creates a unique movement where these inhabitants holds upon their inner issues ranging between their hopes for the future, desires toward the present time, as well as the backstory they hold, especially reflecting for the ever charming Hal. It’s a slice of life that exists in their hamlet and a renewed change of sprit for all involved, no matter what stage in life each character posses.
This play with William Inge is a classic American-style coming of age tale that speaks for a period in time that is now a shadow of itself for the present era, both as real or imaged. It does express the notion of loneliness between the main characters, especially the woman involved. They have their desires to become better for themselves, but must take a few risks, even though independence as a whole is yet to become examined or questioned. However, this play takes places in the 1950’s, so its focus is more of a period piece that shows its “good old days” as ideal for its era.
As to the production as seen on the Pierson Playhouse stage (home base of Theatre Palisades), the ensemble cast fits perfectly to their roles they play reflecting the time and space their dwell within; A midwestern rural America populace long in the so-called idealistic generation when almost everyone followed the rules of life. The sole “rebel without a cause” Hal as performed by Nicholas Dostal, stands as the “bad boy” of the bunch. He holds a unique charm that is appealing without being cocky. Spencer Rodman as Alan is the one time frat brother that is gleaming enough to become a pretty boy, although he can become a jerk. Krystyna Ahlers as Madge is the perfect small town girl who has her options in life, but finds them better off with a man who can provide. And Jessica Mason as younger sibling Millie starts off as a rustic tomboy who eventually morphs into a woman, trying to keep up with her elder sis.
Sherman Wayne, a long standing member of Theatre Palisades, directs this production with Martha Hunter that shows itself as a stirring and moving drama, showcasing a time when the American dream can be obtained with a number of steps between hard work and a devoted family setting with offspring to carry the dream alive. Along with his direction duties, his set design with additions by William Pitcher, illustrates both homes facing one another, complete with a front porch on one-perfect for taking a view of the world that folds out front! June Lissanderllo’s costuming is rightly of and for the period it speak for. The woman are nearly dressed up while the men don sport coats when the need calls. (Hal sometimes wears a t-shirt, but is mostly bare from the waist up!)
In additional to the above noted cast, this play also features as listed in their order of appearance, Marcus Maia, Nancy Woods, Tamara Ashton, and Manfred Hofer.
In spite of its dated elements that are found within this stage work, the drama, dialogue, and character relationships are fully engaging. That’s what makes PICNIC a classic. Although this reviewer won’t know if this notation is a “spoiler alert”, but the audience never sees what occurs at the picnic, let along attends it! However, this entire production is just as appealing and comforting as a lunch eaten outdoors consisting of chicken salad sandwiches (with mayo), deviled eggs, creamy potato salad, with a cup of iced sweet tea to wash it all down! Just watch out for the ants!
PICNIC, presented by Theater Palisades, performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until February 19th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For more information, call (310) 454-1970, or visit online at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com
GLORIOUS!, Peter Quilter’s comedy about an eccentric woman of age whose talent for operatic singing was yet to be spoken for, opens at Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre.
Living in the heart of Manhattan c. 1944, Florence Foster Jenkins (AnnaLisa Erickson) is a woman of means. Living off a rather large inheritance, she keeps herself busy by becoming involved in her many interests. One of these personal passions is to become a soprano. However, her vocal pitch is far from being perfect. In fact, it’s downright awful! Her “boyfriend” St Clair Byfield (Larry Gesling) a man of British decent whose trade is a thespian, is aware of her actual talent, but supports her in what she wants to do in spite of what those who hear her sing may think. With the various charity recitals and extravagant balls her dose her singing, she hires Cosme McMoon (Eric Pierce), a young man who performs on the piano while she vocalizes. Her good friend and fellow society woman Dorothy (Joanna Churgin, alternating with Marina Tidwell), supports Florence as much as anyone else within her close circle. However, they will not admit that her singing needs work–lots of it! This notion of those that hear her singing, laughing in the process, won’t stop Florence as her reachers her high peak by holding a concert in Carnegie Hall. Will this woman make out with a song as a swan, or as her swan song?
This play with songs, comparing this to a traditional musical as this is not, is charming, witty, and heartwarming to boot. This tale of a woman who believed she was a great vocalist when everyone thought otherwise is based upon an actual person. Her tale was first brought to the public attention by playwright Peter Quiliter who discovered the woman’s “talent” by hearing a recording of her screeching through an operatic aura. The play first opened in Birmingham England in the middle 2000‘s, later moving to London’s west end theatre scene where it became a hit. It eventually became a feature film that sported the name of this “first lady of the sliding scale” (what the critics called her) that sang her way through fame! In this Morgan-Wixson production, AnnaLisa Erickson as Florence plays her role as a very sweet woman that holds very good intentions for herself. She has heart and appeal with a very bad vocal pitch! Eric Pierce as Cosme McMoon is a man that also feels for Florence, in spite of her bad singing. She even treats him as the son she never had, encouraging him to even settle down with a woman. (He does find settling down with someone appearing, but not necessarily with Florence’s named suggestion!) Larry Gesling as St. Clair Byfield is more of a “ham actor” type that a serious thespian, although he has performed in a few of The Bard’s plays of old! Joanna Churgin as Dorothy is just as eccentric as Florence, running around with other society women that are involved with a number of the woman’s clubs made popular in New York long before the days of television. Adding to the cast is Diane Baker as Mrs. Verrinbder-Gedge, a music loving woman that wants Florence silenced, and Arriella Fiore as Maria, Florence’s hispanic maid that speaks only Spanish but understands English as well as everyone else!
Anne Gesling serves as both musical director and stage director in this M-W production, keeping the pace fully active while adding to the music score that Florence attempts to sing.
In addition to the performing seen on stage is Thomas Brown’s set design that displays the various settings where Florence makes her mark in the musical world, from her apartment filled with 19th century-era furnishings, to a rather plain recording studio, shifting upon the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, winding up on the stage of Carnegie Hall!
GLORIOUS! is just that! For those that have their hopes of becoming a great vocal talent that proves otherwise, this stage production can serve as an inspirational piece. It’s more encouraging that one of those many (too many?) talent shows that currently grace the TV landscape. The talent found on those programs don’t necessarily sing opera auras, but what do they really know anyway?
GLORIOUS!, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, until February 5th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. A special talk back session where the cast and crew discuss their performing as well as taking questions from the audience, occurs after the performances held on Sunday, January 22nd, and Friday, January 27th.
For more information as well as ticket reservations, call (310) 828-7519 or via online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2017 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!