This article is once again about television, that device that one can view moving image programming projected on an electronic screen. This writer is using the slang term of this device that originated when TV sets consisted of a glass and lead cathode-ray tube that varied in screen size, usually around 21” is size. Since 2005, TV sets changed from CRT to liquid crystal display (LCD), plasma display, and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens. So calling a TV device as “the tube” would be the same as calling a radio as “the wireless”. But this is getting off the subject on hand.

This article will speak for the method on how people receive their moving imagery (i.e. “TV shows”) through their devices. And in this day and age, the choice of getting access is through streaming, a method of obtaining content through an internet-based connection.

Since there are many players in the streaming biz such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, CBS All-Access, and the biggest one in the TV universe, Netflix, one would believe that a TV fan would not know what to watch. A recently released marketing report states otherwise.

According to a report filed by The Nielson Company, the firm that’s been rating the TV audience for decades, it states that for the first quarter of this calendar year (January-March, 2019), the average domestic TV viewer spends just shy of twelve hours a day plugged into some kind of electronic device that sports a viewing screen. To be exact, the time spend per day comes to eleven hours, twenty-seven minutes. (11:27)

In spite of those long hours, some two thirds of those viewers knows exactly what they want to watch rather than to tune in aimlessly, a term once known as “channel surfing”. And much of that same viewing comes from user-time shifted television. And for those that are too lazy to look up the meaning of what “user time shifted television” means, good ol’ Wikipedia states that this method of viewing media content “…is the recording of programming to a storage medium to be viewed or listened to after the live broadcasting. Typically, this refers to TV programming but can also refer to radio shows via podcasts”

Those of a Millennium and Gen-Y age (18 through 34 years) spend the most time of choosing what they want to watch, roughly nine minutes, forty seconds. If those of that same age bracket can’t decide where to plop their eyeballs, they either stick to a favorite channel or source to see what’s on, or they view shorter length video content that runs anywhere from ten minutes or less from various sources. (YouTube, etc.) Those aged fifty and up i.e. the ever lovin’ Baby Boomers, spend the least amount to time of what to watch, just shy of five minutes. (4.9 minutes to be exact.) This shorter time comes from the moments that this age group had access to a printed program guide that listed in detail the amount of channels available in a geographic area, and what programs were on and on what time of day. A few of these even recall when television was limited to just a handful of channels that were obtained through over the air means. And depending on where these viewers were located, those channels numbers could be as little as three separate sources. This limitation give them little to no other source to grab content.

Although viewing programming through over the air means is still possible, folks are going through streaming. Perhaps the biggest reason of them all is the fact that it’s a whole lot cheaper to subscribing to a cable and/or satellite service where one has to fork over as much as $100.00 per month to get over a hundred channels and only to tune in as little as two channels. This is due to the fact that people’s tastes in TV content is totally different. If one is more of a sports fan, one will tune in to Fox Sports, a regional based sports channel, or even ESPN. A movie fan will tune into any source that airs features, from Turner Classic Movies to The Movie Channel. News junkies has their CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and so on.

But when it comes to streaming, there will be other players entering the fold. Warner Media will have their own streaming service out soon, and Disney is getting their Disney+ service out where they have stated that everything in the Disney library will be available! This may mean that anything The Walt Disney Company has created in the last ninety-six years will be available for viewing. This writer will wait and see if such long forgotten movies such as Tonka, Follow Me Boys, The Gnome Mobile, and Monkey Go Home will be available for entertainment purposes. And this doesn’t count what Disney will do with the 20th Century Fox library! It’s been years (decades?) since this same writer has seen any of the movies starring Will Rogers, or the Mr. Moto series with Peter Lorre as the Japanese sleuth of the same name. (Don’t forget the Charlie Chan movies too!)

However, it’s summertime, and folks are suppose to be in the great outdoors taking up mom nature as her best! Then again, since TV can be taken anywhere where one goes providing there is WiFi access, one can catch up on quality binge watching while camping in the woods! At least one is indeed in those great outdoors!

The Garry Marshall Theatre in Toluca Lake adjacent closes out their 2018-19 season with the stage musical THE SPITFIRE GRILL, a melodramatic story about a young woman who arrives in a small town to rebuild herself, and the woman who gives her that opportunity, adding it all with a unique concept.

Rachel Sarah Mount is Percy. She just got released from state prison over a manslaughter rap she feels the cause was justified. With a pocketful of petty cash as prison “gate money”, the clothes on her back, along with a clipping from a travel guide consisting of a picture of an outdoor autumn scene, she arrives in the community in late winter where that fall picture was captured in; Gilead, Wisconsin, located within a lot of trees and nothing much else. She stumbles upon a local diner called “The Spitfire Grill”, run by Hanna (Sarah Saviano), a feisty and hard scrubbed woman. She gives Percy a chance to prove herself worthy as a cook and waitress. This place doesn’t get much business with the exception of the locals that live in the area. Percy makes her first friend since she was spring from the joint, Shelby (Ashley Argota), a fellow co-worker. The others that visit this spot is Effy (Linda Kerns), a mail carrier, Joe (Erich Schroeder), the sheriff and Percy’s parole officer, and Caleb (Jonathan Regier), Hanna’s nephew. Although Hanna had this diner under her wing for years, she wants to sell the place for whatever she can get. Alas, there are no takers. But Percy suggests an idea to Hanna. Why not start a contest where for an entry fee of one hundred dollars along with an essay on why the contestant desires to take over the grill, one can win the place as a prize? At first, Hanna thinks that idea is insane. But since she doesn’t hold much of a choice, she goes for the idea. Before long, letters come pouring in (along with a crisp “c” note with each entry), where the best essay received will win the entire place. But there are other issues to weed out among the group that lives in this small town. Will Percy prove herself as a model citizen? Will Hanna get enough money from the entries to make up her losses from running this place? And who is this strange visitor that Percy encounters? Is this visitor (performed by Nicu Brouillette) a real person, or is it a spirit of someone long past?

This musical, with book by James Valcq & Fred Alley, with musical score by Valcq and lyrics by Alley, and based on the 1996 “indy” film release written by Lee David Zlotoff, is a music that is more dramatic and sober in frame than a traditional musical of this ilk that would be more upbeat and charming. Although this program does hold a distinct charm, the mood shifts from being dramatic with hints of comic relief in the first act, to more moody and sullen by its second. This sense of emotion also counts for the musical numbers performed. Its sound is a blend of rural folk, country & western-esque, with suggestions of an ethnic concept that is “American” in flavor rather than taken from some world nation of origin only mentioned in long forgotten back issues of National Geographic. This form of pacing and style sets the sentiment of how the story and songs unfold, making this stage musical a show that is semi-deadpan solemn and consequential, rather than something where everyone is happy while prancing about.

As to the players. Each one appearing not only keeps their acting skills in check, their musical abilities remain as their highest appeal. Most of the cast members play an instrument during the musical numbers as conducted through Anthony Zediker. Zediker performs on piano during selected productions, shared by Lauralie Pow and James Lent, while the other instruments–fiddle, guitar, and accordion, are performed on stage by almost all of the players (rather than from the background or off-stage) during their appropriates cues. Rachel Sarah Mount provides the best of the vocal harmonies that are well suited for the score this show presents.

Among the visuals seen on stage, Tanya Orellana’s scenic design shows the wooded areas as existing by way of standing vertical wooded planks of various lengths (with images of trees affixed) that bend toward its lower half to stage front as its backdrop, with scant pieces of furnishings consisting of a table with chairs (the dining area), and a fixed positioned 1950’s-era O’keefe & Merritt stove on stage left to represent the kitchen where Percy creates the “fine cuisine” that made The Spitfire Grill stay off the Michelin guidebooks. Michele Young’s costuming has every cast member don outfits that are rural and rustic in nature, but is more of the “Goodwill” variety rather than something from the Eddie Bauer collection.

This reviewer can’t compare this musical stage version to the feature film is was extracted from. However, the creators of this stage program as viewed on The Garry Marshall Theatre floorboards and directed by Dimitri Toscas has its moments. Again, don’t expect high comedy and garish musical numbers. It’s just a musical piece that is as green with hints of brown and beige as its backwoods. And cheeseheads from Green Bay be damned!!

THE SPITFIRE GRILL, presented by and performs at The Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 West Riverside Drive, Burbank, until August 11th. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Additional performances on Saturday afternoon, July 27th at 2:00 PM, and Sunday evening, August 4th, at 7:30 PM. No performance on Wednesday, July 24th and 31st.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 955-8101, or online at http://www.GarryMarshallTheatre.org
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum continues its repertory season of classic plays with Thornton Wilder’s THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, that tells the tale of the story of the human race through the life and times of the Antrobus family living within the wilds of the physical domain called New Jersey and all points in between.

The Antirobus clan consists of husband George (Maek Lewis) wife Maggie (Melora Marchall), their two kids Gladys (Gabrielle Beauvais) and Henry (William Holbrook). Adding to the family is Lilly Sabina (Willow Geer), the hired help who serves as the maid.

The first act takes place at the Antirobus home where the Ice Age is taking its toll. Although it’s the middle of August, both the family and the common folks outside try to stay warm, including the family pet dinosaur and mammoth! The second act brings the brood to the shores of Atlantic City where a convention or sorts is going on, as well as a beauty content. This brings the story to the third and final act where a war has just completed. The family by way of the battle lines are gathered once again, including maid Sabina acknowledging that through extreme cold, floods, beauty pageants, and the annals of war, they have all made it through the skins of their teeth.

This play, written by the same author who gave the theater world another modern classic, Our Town, developed a storyline that is far from being linear in fashion. Although it features enough social commentary and satire to brings its focus come across, there are hints and shadows to other stage plays that were around during this period. In this case, that era is c.1942, the year this production made its first stage appearance. There are doses of such programs as Hellzapoppin (for its frantic runaround zaniness), Ken Murray’s Blackouts (for the suggestions of burlesque), and even All Quiet On The Western Front (for the horrors and aftermath of The Great War a.k.a. World War I.) Although the three parallel stage shows may be now long forgotten to the post-modern (early 21st Century) audience, this production as seen at the Theatricum Botanicum progresses for its quick direction, visual metaphors, and its keen satire that makes more sense that ever before! The troupe consisting of the main ensemble as the Antirobus family keep their pacing advance in a unique clip! The role of maid Sabina is played by Willow Geer, the newer generation of performers that is part of the Geer family acting dynasty. She performs her role that is sweet in nature with touches of giddiness for personality. The rest of the troupe is just as amusing, although Willow does steal the show to itself.

In addition to the main cast, Jonathan Blandino appears as the narrator, and Ernestine Phillips appears as an Atlantic City boardwalk fortune tellers that does know all and see all using a sense of mystery and spiritualism.

Directed by Ellen Geer, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH was far ahead of its time. It may not have been understood when it was first presented to the theater world, but it got better over the generations. It was not the first artistic piece created that suffered this kind of fate, and never proved itself to be the last! But the early 1940’s was still living with the annals of vaudeville, and that device called “television” would not come around for a few more years. But this isn’t TV! It’s another fine theater production as performed within the rustic canyons of Topanga!

THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, presented by and performs at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga, until September 29th. Showtimes are Saturdays, July 20th, August 3rd, August 31st, and September 21st at 8:00 PM, Sundays, August 11th, 18th, September 8th and 29th at 8:00 PM, Sunday, July 28th at 4:00 PM, Friday, August 23rd at 8:00 PM, and Saturday, September 14th at 4:00 PM.

Other programs that are performing in repertory are William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (through September 28th) with A Midsummer’s Night Dream (through September 2nd); Orson Welles’ Moby Dick-Rehearsed (through September 29th); and Henrick Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (through September 28th). D.L. Coburn’s The Gin Game will perform from August 17th through September 29th.

For ticket reservations and for more details on all shows, call (310) 455-3723, or visit online at http://www.Theatricum.com.

One can also follow the Theatricum Botanicum through social media via Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Theatricum, Twitter @Theatricum, and Instagram @Theatricum_Botanicum
Classical Theatre Lab of West Hollywood present’s Tirso De Molina’s THE LAST DAYS OF DON JUAN, the story of Spain’s prime red hot lover, and the consequences he faces for his ruthless deeds.

Carlo Figlio is the title character. A Spaniard from a source of wealthy means, he galavants the country side with the air of seducing woman, deflowering anyone of the female species. With his trusty servant Catalina (Christine Conte) at his side, he ventures through one town to the next, narrowly escaping those that find his galavanting not too proper through the eyes of the almighty church. He does get what comes to him when after a sword fight he encounters turns fatal, Don Juan is brought to justice by spiritual law when he is taken away by the Band of the Damned for eternity.

This play was first presented during the Golden Age of Spain whose period was in the 16th and 17th centuries. (The play itself takes place in the early 1600’s.) It has much of the grace and charm that this nation, one of the most powerful counties in Europe at the time, brought into the artistic world as it was known. In this version as translated and adapted by Nick Dear in the late 20th century (1990 to be exact), much of that drama that was contained into this work rings true in english proper.

As to this production. Carlo Figlio as Don Juan is just as cunning as the namesake suggests, a man who has it with the ladies, even though that, thanks to the governing church, won’t allow a maiden to have relations until marriage! Christine Conte as Catalina serves as the sidekick to the hero (or “anti-hero”) that shows amusing comic relief.

There are others in the cast as well, including (as listed in their alphabetical order), Virtic Emil Brown, Carolyn Crotty, Cesar Di Bello, Erin Fitzgerald, Stuart W. Howard, Nico Madden, Michael Sturgis, Ian Waters, and Alexander Wells.

The play itself is presented not on a stage, but a setting set in the middle of Kings Road park, a city park operated by the city of West Hollywood. The sets are minimal (use your imagination), the costuming and setttings by Susan Deely Wells are of the period, and the “stage” direction by Suzanne Hunt makes this program an ideal moment to experience live theatre in the great outdoors. There is plenty of shading, so sunscreen isn’t necessarily. And if one wishes to bring a picnic lunch, that’s idea as well. A picnic table is nearby, and even as stated at that table, one can still view this 400+ year old play unfold!

Many folks enjoy a summer time taking part in a theatre show that is presented outdoors/ This show will fit that bill. It’s also 90 minutes in length, making this production a perfect one-act. THE LAST DAYS OF DON JUAN isn’t exactly a “Shakespear-in-the-park”, but it comes awfully close!

THE LAST DAYS OF DON JUAN, presented by Classical Theatre Lab, and performs at Kings Road Park, 1000 North Kings Road, two blocks south of Santa Monica Blvd. at Kings Road and Romaine Street, West Hollywood, until August 11th. Showtimes are Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. No show on Sunday, July 21st and on Saturday, August 3rd. Reservations can be made by calling (323) 960-5691, or via
e-mail at ClassicalTheatreLab@gmail.com
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2019 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!


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