Once upon a time back in the days when television was received via an indoor or outdoor antenna and for the most part was available for free, viewing the tube during the summer months didn’t have the same priory as it did during the rest of the year. Between September of one year through May of the next, much of the programming that was made available during the “prime time’ viewing hours, usually between the period of 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM (or 7:00 PM through 10:00 PM in the central time zone), consisted of the standard mix of dramas, police shows, situation comedies, variety programs featuring comedy, musical numbers, or both, with the occasional sporting event as well as a news/information/documentary title thrown in for balance. These evening hours was the time when the most amount of viewers would be tuning in for their choice of home based visual entertainment.
During the summer months, generally between Memorial Day (or staring in 1971, the Memorial Day weekend) through the Labor Day weekend, many people would be spending their evening hours outdoors, not only to take advantage of the better weather, but to spend the time in longer daylight hours.
Many of the networks (three actually) knew through their programming departments that ratings–the measured amount of viewers that would be turning into a specific program during a specific time period, would normally drop during the summer months. Another reason for the drop was due to the selection of programming offered since there would be plenty of reruns. Shows that were on would’t be offering a new collection of episodes until September, assuming that the program was even going to return. And there was the program that was called the “summer replacement”. This was a program that had a built-in short shelf life where only a handful of episodes would run, and once September kicked in, the title would be off the air, never to return. Many of these summer replacements consisted of comedy/variety shows that were easy to produce (for what they were) and didn’t necessarily have any continuity. The summer replacement title can begin anytime, and end at any moment without the notion that the series has some plot point that had to be resolved by its conclusion.
Now this writer is speaking for summer TV long before the modern elements of TV viewing started to kick in, mostly in the form of cable TV and home video. Programming on cable TV always lagged behind in terms of quality and content compared to what the three networks can offer. This was due to budgeting since ABC, CBS, and NBC can afford to pay for better shows than, let’s say, what the USA Network, WTBS, WGN, etc. can offer. So those cable channels were not under the same pressure to provide better programming in the summertime, or anytime for that matter! It was just quantity of viewing choices rather than quality. The premium, or “pay” cable channels such as HBO, Showtime, and the like, offered recent uncut feature films, with an occasional original program added for balance and for “filler”. But that choice of programming was offered throughout the year, so that didn’t effect the summer viewing much. Besides, people through that if they were paying some $14.00 or so dollars a month just to receive HBO, etc., they might as well take advantage to what they were paying for! And if they could not watch a title when it aired, the ol’ VCR took care of that.
In today’s video world where TV is literary everywhere, one can watch whatever content they want when they felt like it, summertime or otherwise! And since new programming choices begin their run when the video provider is good and ready to offer the program in question, one can find it throughout the year. In many cases, all at once!
So as June turns into July, people will keep their gadgets that can produce visual content handy and watch whatever and wherever they may be. The notion of being forced to watch lame variety shows and perhaps tuning in to an anthology series featuring single episodes of sitcoms that will never see the light of day (called in the business as “garbage can theater”) has longed passed. But summertime as it is will still remain the period of the year to take advantage of the so-called great outdoors, even if that outdoors involves long associated indoor antics.
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Continuing its run at the VS Theatre in Los Angeles is the world premier of Giovanni Adams’ LOVE IS A DIRTY WORD, a solo performance with music that speaks upon a personal journey of a young African-American being living in a world where he seeks his own identity upon others as well as for himself.
In his presentation, Giovanni recites his saga of being raised by his mother in Jackson, Mississippi in a Christian homestead. His father was not around much as his household became broken due to having his father serving time, later leading toward divorce. He continues his life by his discovery of what he desires for himself, going through the many phases on who is is and what he desires to become; A full standing Christian black man who is full of sprit, that later holds the notion of becoming “out”–a far removed state of the drawing of a man of his form.
This solo show, developed by Becca Wolff (who also directs) and written by Giovanni Adams (who also performs), is told in a prose fashion. This method of storytelling is very reminiscent to reciting “slam” poetry. That is, narrated in a style where each line and phrase holds its unique patten of verbiage that adds enough descriptive color where what is said delivers more meaning to each episode that Giovanni dictates. It’s very much to the flavor to a radio drama. Close one’s eyes to hear the words, and the invisible pictures are there to view.
What makes this show as unique is the fact it features original songs composed by Giovanni that he sings in selected moments. The program is not really a “musical” per se. Arturo Lopez performs the musical selections and arrangements as well as the background score on guitar in a troubadour approach. Although the guitarist is present on stage, he only serves as the background as Giovanni unfolds his saga that capsulizes his twenty-five or so year long epic in roughly eighty minutes.
Rachel Myers creates a stage setting where Giovanni presents his parables that shows his life placement, from a simple yet humble homestead complete with furnishings showing off a bedroom, living room with a well worn chair as its only reminder, a bathroom whose only focus is a classic-style bathtub, and a tight virtual outdoor space sporting a floor laden with dry Mississippi mud. Each space represents a phase in his life as he progresses as who and what he became; a performer that holds extensive talent reliving his individualized excursion through his life and times, even if that love is far from being an expression that’s forbidden.
Giovanni Adams has progressed since his days living in a place and age where people of his character has continued to experience traumas not necessarily of their own creation. With shows as this one, his personal passage in life serves as a stepping stone where he can decent upon his roots to head back home and beyond.
LOVE IS A DIRTY WORD, presented by Tilted Field in association with the Vs. Theatre Company, performs at Vs.Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, until July 15th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. For tickets and for more information, call (323) 739-4411 or via online at
The Morgan-Wixson Theatre of Santa Monica closes out their 2016-17 season with the family favorite SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL, a stage journey that weaves a fable based upon the beloved characters and whimsical settings of the creator of such tales, Dr. Seuss.
Chris Tiernan portrays The Cat In The Hat, who serves as our host introducing his audience and companion JoJo (Nicholas Vizzi) to a number of beings living within the Jungle of Nool, home of Horton the Elephant (Steven Flowers). Horton discovers a speck of dust on a stock of clover that is the home of the Whos living in Whoville lead by the Mayor (Danoel Koh) and Mrs. Mayer (Fiona Porter). He vows to protect these Whos since after all, a person’s a person, no matter how small! Then there is the lazy Mayzie (Amy Coles) a bird that only has one tail feather but desires more! As she receives her wish, Horton, the kind hearted elephant, meets up with another bird Gertrude (Annie Claire Hudson) that asks Horton to sit on her egg while she goes off for the afternoon. Horton agrees to sit on the egg while Gertrude spends her time in Palm Beach! Then Jojo is twisked off to a military school for thinking too many thinks, lead by the General (Daniel Koh), who is at war for those that like their bread butter side down!. This leads to the characters of the Circus McGurkus with all of the filly thrills, with the Sour Kangeroo (Zoe D’Andrea, alternating with Alicia Luoma) and the Wickersham Brothers (Daniel Gaitan, Lauren Blare, and Niko Montelibano.) All of these events (and many more) note upon the places you will go, because you are there!
This witty and charming musical, with book and music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and co-conceived by Eric Idle, uses a selection of characters and settings created by artist and author Ted S. Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, and devises a musical that is just as amusing, if not slightly mystifying, than the tales created by the good doctor that kids (both current and former) have enjoyed for multiple generations! In this Morgan-Wixson production, it features a huge ensemble of creative players that sing and move their way through the worlds that may be nonsensical, but are just as real as anyone would want to believe! There isn’t a lot of spoken dialogue in this show, just one tuneful number to the next as the cast belts out through its transcribed score selections as set through Daniel Koh’s musical direction. And with such a show, there is plenty to view! Kristine Rutledge’s costuming is just as colorful and flamboyant as a Sesssian story page! Tristan Griffin’s sets also speak of the sprit of Seuss where the backdrops are just as round and wild! With the aid of Lauren Blair’s choreography, one has a team that showcases to how this musical brings the kid-at-heart for all to marvel!
As to the remainder of the cast, it features a troupe of players that outnumber the space this writer can allow. As much as yours truly would desire to list them all, this humber author of tales not as colorful as Ted Geisel created in his time will give a rowdy “yay” to them all!
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL is one of those stage musical of late that never obtained the respect is should have received. This reason for this was because many other playhouses that presented this showpiece were never able to replicate the same sprit and feeling that these Seuss stories did for those that grew up with this fables. The reason behind that theroy dosen’t really matter as to why one would not liking green eggs and ham! This writer will quote that the Morgan-Wison’s presentation of SEUSSICAL is a real treat to see! This is the reason why this theatre company has been around for some seventy plus years! (It’s current location has been home to this company for a little over fifty years!) With all of those years behind its theatre belt, that shows that community theatre is indeed well and alive even in this overly wired age. PS..this is one of the few community theatres with its own phone app, available for free downloading through the regual app outlets!
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, until July 29th. 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, July 9th, and Friday, July 29th.
For more information as well as ticket reservations, call (310) 828-7519 or via online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org.
Next’s week issue (Vol. 22-No. 27) will feature our annual “State of the Union” address. Don’t miss out!
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