As the Christmas/holiday decorations are already socked away for the next eleven months in boxes and related storage containers, the Christmas trees are stuffed in trash and recycle bins (or sitting along street curbs) ready for pickup, and the January white sales are going on in full tilt at retail outlets in-store and online, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
This starting anew always serves as a bittersweet act where one may look behind themselves to see all of the events and notions that went on within the past twelve months, while looking forward to the good and perhaps not-so-good times that may or may not happen. Although one can’t predict to what will take place, at least one can plan to arrange for an event to appear, or at least appear in a way that might just make some kind of sense to it all!
And that is what this here newsletter has in mind. Although our company fiscal year is now in its second half, the newsletter itself runs under the calendar year. And since we are speaking for the newsletter, it’s about time that this writer lays a few ideas around that we, the editorial staff, would like to get around doing, or “talking” about doing.
We have been churning out this newsletter for some twenty-three years. Granted, being 23 isn’t that spectacular. Usually anniversaries are commemorated when something is ten years old, or twenty, twenty-five years, and so on. It will be our silver anniversary come 2021–should we live that long! But recalling the day one was born is looking back. We are going to look forward.
First, we will still continue to place news and reviews of community theater based within the Los Angeles region. We dwell in a media town. Los Angeles, or to be specific, “Hollywood”, is the movie making capitol in the world! Any civilized spot on the globe that can house a moving picture theater runs American movies. Many places that has access to television signals and/or higher speed internet access programs television shows–many of such coming from the USA by way of Hollywood. And theater is a distant cousin to movies and TV. What brings these mediums together is the talent behind it all, mostly in the form of writers, directions, costumers, and of course, actors! And local theater can keep these people in the limelight to make way for movies and/or TV. Sure, stage theater may not reach a vast audience as a TV show or feature film could, but these folks are ready and willing to hone their crafts while hoping to become “discovered”. And out of all of the columns appearing in each edition of ALOL, the theater reviews are the most read–number one! So those theater reviews won’t ever go away, or at least not through our making.
Movie reviews still holds its mark here, although the luster has faded within the last few years. Since the internet as we know it began some twenty five or so years ago, movies became one of many topics discussed on the ol’ world wide web. One of the oldest domains that exist in cyberspace land–the Internet Movie Data Base a.k.a.. http://www.IMDB.com, began as a “bulletin board” around 1990 where early computer users could post information about their favorite movies. Since then, many places on the ‘net offered movie news and reviews. However, we will continue to post our reviews of feature films. It may not be as often as a review of a stage play, but they will still be coming around!
One element we may cut back on is our opening column. Over audits we have conducted, we asked a selected number of our subscribers on what columns you tend to read and articles you pass over. The opening column are the ones that tends to be less read. There wasn’t any specific reason to why folks are going directly to “page two”. We can just guess that there is too much to read from other sources out there, both real or otherwise! The amount of other journalists who range from staff reporters to solo bloggers post articles on a more timely basis–daily, hourly, even as events occur. As much as we would like to be on-the-spot so to speak, we are just limited to letting one know what’s going on every seven days. So there may (and we do mean may) be an issue where we won’t hold an opening column. We will just get into the news and reviews. But as things occur, everything is subject to change without notice. At least you were warned for what it’s worth.
But as the news arrises to what we are going to do in 2019, we will let all of you know. We won’t keep you on hold. If we have breaking news, we are going to bust it through these pages! If there won’t be anything to report that fits within our scope, then so be it! After all, no news is good news. We don’t believe in ghosts, so we won’t go around donning a white sheet over ourselves to do our share of ghosting! We will be serving as a friendly ghost looking for a friend!
So as we haul the wrapping paper in the trash and/or recycle bins while making sure that the gifts we got had store receipts with them so we can exchange those gifts for something we really want, it’s all hope for a great “end-of-the-teens” decade. Can you dig it?
NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Glendale Centre Theatre opens their 2019 season of comedy plays and musicals with Ruth Hale’s A BUNDLE OF TROUBLE, a story about a father’s unplanned “visit” with his daughter as dictated through his separated spouse.
Randy Marquis is Jeff Baker. He’s a semi-employed inventor who’s working on some sure fire creation for a large company that involves some kind of concoction sporting a rather pungent odor that involves mixing this concoction in his bathtub inside of his San Francisco apartment. His spouse Annette (Megan Blakeley), who separated from Jeff a few years beforehand, holds a more solid career. In fact, she is on assignment for a company based task that requires a trip to South America. Since she will be gone for eight weeks, she leaves their adolescent daughter Abby (Isabella Ponce) in Jeff’s care. His fatherly skills isn’t so up to par as he doesn’t keep house (he’s a mess) and can’t cook as he lives on sardines and bowls of corn flakes and Coke poured in the bowl of cereal! Adding to Jeff’s confusion is his landlady Mrs. Applby (Jackie Sanders), her slightly ditzy adult daughter Lu Ann (Erica Farnsworth), Jeff’s business partner and closest friend Ivan Hall (John David Wallis) who is there to get his buddy out of his domestic jams, Preston Conway (Brett Gustafson) Annette’s fiancé (never mind the fact that Jeff and Anette never officially divorced), Merced Mason (Faith Streng) who is part of the local Child Welfare department keeping her eye on Jeff’s parenting skills, Abby’s adolescent friend Everett Comstock (Van Brunelle) who is growing to be a future wiseass, and Molly the Dog. (Billed as “Bubba Brunelle”.) All of these characters, along with Jeff attempting to invent a “next big thing”, leads toward his personal bundle of trouble.
This play, written by Ruth Hale, the great grandparent of the family that currently operates the Glendale Centre Theatre, is a breezy comedy that holds a hearty slice of cuteness and charm that doesn’t rely upon heavy sided sight gags, lame jokes, or anything connected to post-modern sitcom-esquee humor. (James Castle Stevens, who also directs this showpiece, adapted this play for this staging.) The ensemble cast do work well with one another in a fittingly meaning stage setting. With the grace of the fellow cast members, Randy Marquis as Jeff is the real star of this program. He can neatly play out his role as the dad that does stumble and fall on occasion, but still keeps a golden heart and soul!
The current season of plays and musicals at the GCT will be offering a total of nine shows throughout the year. Following this show will be the Jim Stowell-Jessica Zuehlke, and Drew Jansen musical comedy Church Basement Ladies opening on February 8th, Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic The Pirate of Penzance on March 15th, the world premier musical Rex & Bob’s Excellent Misadventure on April 27th, Dan Goggin’s Nunsence on May 17th, the Nancy Frick comedy Four Weddings and an Elvis on June 28th, the Terrence McNally-Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical Ragtime on August 3rd, the stage version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on September 20th, the world premier of Dracula The Musical on October 19th, and rounding out the season is the annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on November 22nd.
Visit the theater’s website for more details on all of these forthcoming shows.
A BUNDLE OF TROUBLE, presented by and performs at The Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until February 2nd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM, with Thursday night performances at 7:30 PM starting on January 17th.
For more information, call (818) 244-8481, or via online at
FOREVER BROOKLYN, the story of a nice Jewish kid from New York’s most famous borough and his dream of becoming a stand up comic while facing the challenges of his family, his neighborhood, and the local goodfellows that keep things in order, makes its west coast premier at The Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.\
Danny DiTorrice appears as Melvin Kaplokis. He’s an adolescent kid living in Brooklyn, USA, the only place in New York that really matters! We first find him in the middle 1950’s, where life is rather simple, or it just seems to be. He lives with his mother and dad who runs a record shop, and a pair of younger and older sisters. Melvin’s big dream is to become a stand up comedian, telling jokes while singing parody versions of songs taken from the hit parade. He can entertain his family as well as his aunt and uncle, but there is more to being a comic than to his own clan. He can move on to performing in those resorts located upstate in what’s known as the “Borscht Belt”, an area where folks, especially those of the Jewish persuasion, head off each summer to beat the heat of the city. Melvin even picked out his own stage name–Mel King! But getting to fame can be a tough task. His father and elder sister discourage him, while his mother and younger sis give their blessings. He also must face the goombas that run the neighborhood. Melvin is even hired by one of the mobsters to deliver packages in exchange for giving ”protection” for his dad’s record shop. But fate has it when Melvin-Mel in this case, is given his big break. A local radio DJ that plays that new music called “rock ‘n’ roll” hooks him up with a talent agent that arranges a spot on The Tonight Show! It appears that Mel is on his way to comedy fame! Will Mel hit it off telling jokes that will make ‘em laugh? Will his mother encourage him enough to have her say “My Son, the comedian”? Will the local paisanos that keep the neighborhood in check keep Mel at their side or do they have their own plans? And will this boychik ever find a nice Jewish girl to settle down with?
This solo show, written and directed by Mark Wesley Curran (who for the record, isn’t from Brooklyn and isn’t Jewish), is a loving tribute to life in one of American’s favorite communities when it was a working class area full of people from different ethnicities and places of origin that worked and lived together is some form of harmonious state.
Danny DiTorrice as Melvin Kaplokis holds enough personality where he is friendly and upbeat enough that you would want to take him home to meet the family. In other words, he’s a nice young man only a mother could love, and so will the audience! Not only he can act and perhaps tell a good one-liner with a little corn added for good measure, but he can sing–sort of! Throughout the performance, he singes a few comical versions of songs of the era, along with a few traditional musical numbers. It’s not rock ‘n roll, but it ain’t Sinatra either! It’s just Mel attempting to hit the big time!
Although Danny DiTorrice is the only one gracing the stage, there is more to see while he’s on the floorboards. Allison Cromwell’s set design is rather simple, just consisting of a large living room chair, an upright floor lamp, a small round table with a pair of legacy phones placed on the tabletop, and a super heterodyne radio receiver. These objects depicts the family homestead and other places found through his life. These things are just enough to show that Melvin’s world is a lot bigger than it seems, and rightly so.
Today, Brooklyn is one of the hottest and perhaps most trendy places to live in New York outside of Manhattan. Many of the old-country Jews have since moved away to the outer regions of suburbia or have died. Stand up comics are now turing to social media to get themselves discovered. The local pro ball team that sold itself to “Hollywood” years ago has yet to return. And thanks to air conditioning and cheap(er) airfare, running off to the Catskills for the summer has taken a different stance. But Brooklyn still remains where it is, and will be present for generations to come. FOREVER BROOKLYN is a show for those that were there, or for those that wish they were! And as the local mobsters could say, bada-bing!
FOREVER BROOKLYN, presented by the West Coast Performing Arts Presenters, performs at The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd. (at Sunnyslope), Sherman Oaks, until February 9th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 7:30 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more details, call (800) 838-3006, or online at
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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!