It’s been a month or so since the so-called “holiday” season came to its close. And in the previous year, those same people that took advantage of making things merry and bright placed up their decorations along with the lights that came around with it.

Although it’s coming close to February, a month where Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, as well as other days that mean something to somebody but not necessarily to the public at large, some homesteads still have their Christmas lights still up and running.

Granted, this writer doesn’t seem to mind viewing somebody’s piece of property all decked out with lights all a glow, but a few folks that live nearby tend to become rather irritated is seeing a home with lights celebrating a holiday that has since been passed. These neighbors find such an act as a point of disrespect to the block or local community that live in. They want those lights either taken down, or shut off completely.

Personally, there is nothing wrong with a house that has their light display on, along with artifacts that are part of the season as long as there are no distractions occurring. These same people did make an effort of getting those lights all strung up, as well as setting those figments that are part of the same festive seasonal time. It’s something they wanted to do in spite of the fact that it may involve some hard work. But when it comes to taking those same joyful decorations down, that may be another matter in its own right!

Some folks do enjoy the holidays, and that’s something that is known and understood. But when those events of making merry come to its end, that is just a whole different matter. These same folks that go full force with the season to embrace it while it’s current and new. When those moments come to their conclusion, then the attitude changes, sometimes for the worst!

Even as recently as of this writing, this same humble reporter has seen dead Christmas trees still sitting along curbsides waiting for the city or local community’s department of streets and sanitation come and pick up these long dead trees off the street sides and to a compost center of sorts. Some areas had their trees already picked up, while others are just “getting around to it”, or so its assumed.

January tends to be a rather slow month. For some folks, it takes a whole month for themselves to get their acts together. Not a whole lot occurred this previous month so to speak. People have since received their credit card bills from their previous month’s spending. Folks are starting out doing their taxes. And some selected groups are taking advantage of stocking up on their choice of “wacky weed” that is now part of their personal landscape. So perhaps this is the reason why some folks are keeping their decorations up and running.

But January is about to bleed into February. Some people next Sunday will host Super Bowl “watching” parties when friends and others will gather to enjoy snack foods, mingle with others, and perhaps watch the game on somebody’s big screen TV device. They might pay attention to the TV commercials that are just as memorable as the game itself. But the real reason for these get togethers is just an excuse to host a party. After all, what is there to do in early February, outside of getting taxes done and over with, paying off credit cards bills, and perhaps taking down those lights and decorations commemorating an event that has since been long passed?

Opening at the Hudson Backstage Theater in Hollywood is the West Coast premier of Reginald Andre Jackson’s THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM-1963, a dramity about the misadventures of a “negro” family living in Flint, Michigan in the title year, and the journey they make for the sake of their eldest child.

The Watson clan consists of father Daniel (Marcus Clark-Oliver), mother Wiloma (Tiffany Coty), and their three kids: elder Bryon (Javen Marquise Smith), middle child Kenny (Ken Ivy), and Joetta (Victoria Elizabeth Newman), the youngest. They live a middle class lifestyle in a middle class blue collar community. The stories of this group is seen through the eyes of Kenny. He looks at his family as humble and sincere, yet he does sport poor vision, having what’s called a “lazy eye”. He looks up toward his brother Bryan, although he gets into bits of trouble, both at school and at home. (One of his faults is that he has a thing with playing with matches!) Although Bryan is far from being a juvenile delinquent, his behavior is somewhat of a concern of his parents. So that summer, the family decides to make a rather long road trip to Birmingham, Alabama to visit their Grandma Sands (Sonia Jackson), a hearty woman living in a semi rural community. The basis of this trip is to have Bryan live with her throughout the summer, and perhaps remain there during the school season. In spite of these good intentions, they realize that they are in an area where racial strife is rather high, perhaps teetering toward a dangerous level. But the family (and Grandma) remains true hearted with a strong sprit, until they experience a very close call within an event that became a major turing point.

This play by Reginald Andre Jackson, based upon the book of the same name by Christopher Paul Curtis, is very charming in some of the little episodes that occur as noted by the Kenny character. These small yet well noted segments can be called mini “slices of life” that other families may also go through; Nothing drastic, but is just part of a life of a very strong willed family. The cast that portrays the Watsons are true to the era it speaks for. There is plenty of references of this time where between scenes (and some in progress) the sound features bits of R&B “Motown” music as mood placements. Although there isn’t much of a set to note (minimal furnishings are used as scene reference), there are the period costumes donned by the cast as designed by Ashphord Jacoway. Jamal Y. Speakes, Sr. provides the multi-media design consisting of still photos to note where the family is (physically and otherwise), as projected at the rear of the stage area. Also noted is the choreography by Shari Washington Rhone and Ashe Osei Vita a.k.a. AXE. This said choreography consists of dance segments that are utilized as “dream” elements that the protagonist Kenny is exposed to through incidences that he created and some he came rather close to.

In addition to the above noted cast, also featured are Antoine Lee, Tireni Oyenusi, Zaria Amiyah Kelly, Chantel Deniese, Monty Montgomery, Zacerous LaRue Jones, and Jalen Parker.

The only caveat of this play? It seems that it ends a bit too soon! This reviewer was really getting into what was going on and all! Perhaps the playwright was making a tease into what was going to happen to the Watsons. No matter, though! Director Bernadette Speakes provides a robust blend of humor and drama rolled into one play that notes a cautionary phase of time of a family that did survive, knowing that a change is gonna come!

THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM-1963, presented by All The Way West Productions, and performs at the Hudson Backstage Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Hudson Street, one block west of Wilcox), Hollywood, until February 25th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 960-1055, or online at http://www.Plays411.com/newsite/show/play_info.asp?show_id=4757.

Also view a promo trailer for this show at https://youtube.com/watch?v=To9zohK-6hs

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) announced their nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards on January 23th.

The following titles and names received the nomination for the following categories:

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Darkest Hour (Focus Features)

Dunkirk (Warner Bros.)

Get Out (Universal)

Lady Bird (A24)

Phantom Thread (Focus Features)

The Post (20th Century Fox)

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight)

Best Actor

Timothee Chalamet-Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis-Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya-Get Out

Gary Oldman-Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington-Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins-The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie-I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan-Lady Bird

Meryl Streep-The Post

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson-Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro-The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig-Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan-Dunkirk

Jordan Peele-Get Out

Jimmy Kimmel will once again host the awards ceremony, taking place on Sunday, March 4th at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center-Hollywood, and airs on ABC.

For a complete listing of nominations, visit the official AMPAS web site at http://www.Oscars.com

On January 22nd, The Golden Raspberry Foundation (RAZZIES) announced their list of nomination for the 38th RAZZIE Awards for the worst in feature films released in the previous calendar year.

The following titles and names has been selected for the worst in the following categories:

Worst Picture
Baywatch (Paramount)
The Emoji Movie (Sony/Columbia)
Fifty Shades Darker (Universal)
The Mummy (Universal)
Transformers XVII: The Last Knight (Paramount)

Worst Actor
Tom Cruise-The Mummy
Johnny Depp-Pirates of The Caribbean XIII: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Jamie Dornan-Fifty Shades Darker
Zac Efron-Baywatch
Mark Wahlberg-Daddy’s Home 2 & Transformers XVII: The Last Knight
Worst Actress
Katherine Heigl-Unforgettable
Dakota Johnson-Fifty Shades Darker
Jennifer Lawrence-Mother! 
Tyler Perry-BOO! 2: A Medea Halloween
Emma Watson-The Circle
Worst Director
Darren Aronofsky-Mother!
Michael Bay-Transformers XVII: Last Knight
James Foley-Fifty Shades Darker
Alex Kurtzman-The Mummy
Anthony (Tony) Leonidis-The Emoji Movie

The RAZZIE Awards will take place on March 3rd at a location to be announced at a future date.
For a complete listing of nominations, visit the official RAZZIES web site at http://www.Razzies.com
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