ELECTION BLUES AND OTHER RAMBLINGS

In case anyone forgot, let alone didn’t notice, this year is a major election year. Since late 2018 (perhaps sooner), there have been a load of campaigning by folks to make themselves known that they have the desire to become elected King of the USA. Over those months, those lucky enough to have the time, space, and money (heavy on the “money” side) have been making barnstorming attempts to get their face in the crowd while blurting out “Vote for me!” to anyone within earshot. They were at it while making the rounds by participating in the usual campaign antics (shaking hands, kissing babies, donning funny hats, etc.) as well as participating in televised debate pageants where each contestant were placed on their “hot seat” to answer questions ranging from healthcare, homelessness, global warming, and other topics of interest. Many of those that began in the race has since dropped out. Some did so in a stream of flames while a few took their quick exit barley saying “That’s all folks!” Whatever the case, the race to become monarch of the land has just been picking up steam, and their is no end in sight–for the moment anyways!

Although we here at Accessibly Live Off-Line central do not take up sides in terms of politics, we do humbly wish each and every one that is in the fight for all of the best. As for the current leader of the land, the process of dethroning the man in charge is getting itself together. Some are for this action, while other may say, “not yet–if at all!” Granted, we don’t know too much in what’s going on in this category, but at least there is some news to follow as January tends to be a very slow month, and it has to give the people who care something to do while they bide their time until its the moment to host and/or attend that Super Bowl watching party!

But never mind that nonsense! It’s the new(er) year, and one must get themselves going on (guess what?) those New Years resolutions that were compiled a few hours (minutes?) before the local clock struck twelve midnight on December 31st of’19. This New Years Resolutions thing is the annual laundry list for folks to make a promise to conduct for themselves in the new year. Those promises tend to fall upon self help rituals ranging from a promise to go to the gym, not yell at one’s kids, remembering special moments within their domestic circles, quit smoking, and so on. On the first of the year, they begin their task in a flurry. By January 15th, they find out that the promises they made for themselves wasn’t going to be as easy as it first appeared. By February 1st, they are ready to give up the ship! By February 14th (Valentine’s Day), they become sidetracked because they had something to do on the day set aside for lovers and other strangers. By March 1st, those resolutions have been changed, altered, or perhaps long forgotten! However, there are a few folks that actually kept all of their promises they had made for themselves. For those people, this writer salutes each and every one of you. For the rest of those that tried and could not make it–better luck next year!

So until the next time we meet, this is your humble writer wishing everyone one of you a bye for now!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Theatre Palisades opens their 2020 season with Robert Harling’s modern classic STEEL MAGNOLIAS, a comical drama about a group of genteel ladies living in small town in the deep south that make their lives in and around the local beauty salon.

Set in the parish of Chinquapin, Louisiana, the story’s focus revolves around a beauty shop run by Truvy Jones (Courtney Shaffer). She has a young assistant Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (Jessica Hogan) who works along aside of her. She’s the newer one in the community where she learns a thing or two on how to style hair, as well as to become absorbed in what’s going in and out of the shop, getting to know the local ladies that come in for a serious ‘do. There’s Clairee Belcher (Catherine Rahm), a widow of well-to-do means as was a former “first lady” of Chinquapin parish. Next is career woman M’Lynn Eatenton-Latcherie (Marie O’Connor) and her younger daughter Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie (Grace O’Neill). Rounding out the group is Ouiser Boudreaux (Sherry Coon) who is so stuck-up, she says that she isn’t crazy. She’s just been in a bad mood for forty years! Told in a time span of some thirty-six months, the storyline shows off the trails and tribulations of these woman folk as they deal with Shelby’s struggle with type one diabetes, how they act toward with the men in their lives–both as family members and of romantic partners, as well as how these same women form a lasting bond with one another through their ups and downs and their various styles of hair.

This is a play that is ideal to see presented for a smaller stage. Its main focus is the characters that make up the spark of this simple salon that is loaded with hair pins and styling mousse, patronized by a group of woman from different backgrounds and stages of life that can’t get by without one another through the “glue” that keeps them as one! The cast of six players that appear in this program live up to their characteristics that make this stage work a real charmer! They all speak their verbiage in southern-style dialogue with touches of sweet charm and hints of sassiness. This said wordiness, as well as what they wear on their persons and on their heads add to the flavor of this production. Brandon Ferruccio directs this show that lever loses any of its momentum, keeping its creative style set in place!

June Lissandrello and Brandon Ferruccio provide the costuming that ranges from conservative on one end of the scale, to sexy on its other end. Jon Sparks provides the wig design that serves as a class unto itself! And Sherman Wayne once again provides the set and lighting design, showing of Truvy’s hair salon with overtones of southern grace, dabs of home spun spot-in decor, with dashes of kitschy-but-cute trims that make this salon more of a comfy home than a place of commerce.

This is a play that is dramatic in places, comical in others, and just a load of fun all around. The community of Pacific Palisades may be different then the parish of Chinquapin, but those differences make this Theatre Palisades program a real treat to experience, or even experience again! Just make sure you keep your Virginia Slims unlit when applying the Aqua Net. Otherwise, your ‘do will be set aglow! (Safety tip for the day!)

STEEL MAGNOLIAS, presented by Theater Palisades and performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until February 16th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.

Ticket reservations can be obtained by calling (310) 454-1970, or through the Pacific Palisades Theatre website at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com
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Sarah Frutig aka Sarah Benoit, recently performed her solo show called Turn Around at the Tag Studio in Burbank, where for an hour’s time, she told the all true story between the relationship with her father, as well as the many suiters that came in and out of her life.

As a child living in central-east Michigan, Sarah emotes her tale from the moment shortly after she was born, even speaking from the womb of her mother Luella Eleanor Liimakka Frutig. From there, she tells about many of the boys (later men) in her life, from childhood sweetheart Mark, her beau from college Chuck (when she was living in Chicago pursuing an education in performing), Tony whom she ended her virgin status, John, a person that tied her over, finally drifting toward Gary (now settled in Los Angeles), where her two year trial shacking up period lasted for nine years! While she was moving from one male figure to the next, her father, Harrison Benoit Frutig, was her major influence. She kept upon his spirit and image right up to his passing. Sarah learned a lot from him, as well as discovering her inner self as becoming part of the nations of Turtle Island, a place (physical and spiritual) the hosted ceremonies and sacred circles rituals that captured the aura she holds faith to–a conviction she has grasped for a good part of her life.

Sarah’s solo show captures honesty, trust, as well as depicting the comical episodes she experienced as real, because it’s all true! Perhaps a bit of creative license was added for amusement flavor. But the truth does leak out–a frankness Sarah wears as a badge of honor!

The spot where she performs her show is an intimate stage. Actually, it’s more as a platform, where she share the performance area with a few props. These stage tools only show where Sarah and her father (appearing as proxy) stand within one another’s lives.

The sited theme to her program uses reference to the record The Men In My Little Girl’s Life, a tune released c.1965 and performed by Mike Douglas. However, Sarah has since settled down with a man who now serves as her husband. Those other boys/men may have moved on, yet she continues to keep the faith alive between her father and those that are part of the spirit world.

TURN AROUND, performs at the Tag Studio located within The Actors Group Studio, 2812 West Magnolia Blvd., Burbank.

For more details including additional show days and performance times, call (818) 300-2885. Tag Studio can be found online at http://www.TagStudio.org
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The 25th annual Critics Choice Awards ceremony was held on Sunday, January 12th from the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California, and was aired live on the CW Network.

Taye Diggs once again served as the master of ceremonies where awards were presented by the choosing of Critics Choice Association, presenting the best in television programming and feature films.

Among the many awards that were presented, ranging from Best Ensemble Cast (feature films), Best Actor/Actress in a Comedy/Drama (ilm/television), Best Supporting Actor/Actress in Feature/TV, Best Action Feature, etc., two special awards were presented. Kristen Bell was awarded as part of the #SeeHer movement where females are presented in movies and TV shows in a positive and progressive light, and Eddie Murphy was awarded the Creative Achievement Award for his work in many elements on both the large and small screen, from his first major appearance as a Saturday Night Live ensemble performer, to a sting of movies including his latest feature, Dolemite Is My Name.

The Best Picture Award was presented to the feature film Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.

The Critics Choice Association consists of members who work as professional journalists that write and review films and TV shows in publications that exist through multimedia outlets. (Disclaimer: This writer is a member of the CCA.)

For a complete listing of all titles nominated and its associated winning categories, visit http://www.CriticsChoice.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 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!

23 MINUTES TO TUNE

With the above headline, one would get the idea that this article is about the art of “Christmas Caroling”, the seasonal activity where a group of folks gather to belt out traditional songs of Christmas (not “the holidays”) going either door to door, or standing in one place such as a street corner or near a Salvation Army pot. Since this is the current holiday season, we’ll step aside to those activities and focus upon something else that is more important for the moment.

According to a recent stat reported by an online guide to those streaming services in existance, it stated that it takes an average time of some twenty three minutes for the standard video viewer to decide what program they desire to see through their video device. This method of scrolling through listings consist of picking what kind of program (TV series, feature film, short form video, etc.) is available out there. With the choices of media ranging from Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV+, YouTube, and of course the service that “broke the mold” Netflix, it would take time to choose what programs to bindge upon, and what programs to look at for ninety seconds only to be bored with it by the time the opening credits comes off the screen.

It’s no surprise that it would take that long to pick a show. Of course, some folks know what exactly to choose, while others are rather clueless or just overly picky. However, it is the notion where there are a lot of choices to glance at, even if that glancing takes the same amount of time to go through an episode of a recent “half hour” series. (23 minutes is the average running time for a sitcom episode of late, minus the TV spots, promos, and other non-related programming that are normally imbedded within the program segment.)

This way of looking for programming is how this method of viewing time results in this current day and age. It’s a very far cry (and we do mean “very far”) from the days when one would have to look at a copy of TV Guide, or through a local newspaper’s listing, to see what is worth its watch.

Of course, TV Guide, the publication that’s been around since 1953, was the be-all-to-end-all choice to know what is available on the tube in terms of programming and the related aspects that are part of the domestic television landscape. For the price that one would have to pay for an individual issue (from its starting cost at fifteen cents to the current cover price of $4.99), one would see not only the “laundry list” of shows, but everything the articles that covered the entertainment aspects of a show (the biggest chunk of television) to the coverage of news, sports, as well as trends in television. For the same amount of time it takes in this day and age to look for what is worth their moments to view, one could read an entire issue of TV Guide nearly cover to cover, minus any advertising that would be found within its pages.

But that was during the era when there were only three TV networks to pick through. Unless over would add the networks from past such as The Dumont Network, The WB, UPN, and even the currently active Public Broadcasting System, (although PBS isn’t a traditional network per se, just a collection of program titles local affiliates would schedule on their own terms), there wasn’t much to choose from! And there were the local stations as well that offered syndicated shows, local programs unique to its region, and the bevy of old movies and reruns that filled the time slots every day of the week.

However, this is the era of now, and right now, one has a dizzying aspect to slosh through. Sometimes it would even take an hour’s time just to see what is idea to watch. Then again, after an hour, one would say “phooey” and turn off the device, or to fling the phone and/or electronic pad aside and to do something else–such as reading a real book!

So as one picks through the virtual “57 channels”, take the time to bindge through what you want and where! After all, it’s your 23 minutes!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Continuing its run at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills is LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE, a musical based upon a romantic film comedy about a collection of people from various places in life who are all falling within love.

Taking its premise of the feature film released by Universal Pictures written by Richard Curtis and originally starred Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and a host of others, the story is the same. During the Christmas season in London and around the U.K., a collection of folks discover the human emotion called love. Starting from the young couple that just got married, to the aging rock star attempting to make a comeback with his recording of a new tune for the season, toward the recent widowed man with the task of raising his adolescent son on his own, the writer taking a retreat to compose his murder mystery on an isolated farm in France, the Prime Minister who has the most political power of all the land with the exception of the Queen, and the energetic restaurant worker who discovers that American women are more to his liking. Their episodes are loosely linked together all in the name of fulfilling the art of love with lots of holly and mistletoe added for flavor.

This theater production, adapted and directed for the stage by Anderson Davis, is a blend of stage musical and feature film screening all into one. Throughout the lavish stage set as designed by Matthew Steinbrenner that resembles a facade of vintage buildings seen as common place within the U.K., the actual movie is screened in selected parts that introduces the characters as they speak their lines. While on stage, performers that resemble those speaking characters recreate their counterparts as they sing a selection of tunes that express the scenes and how they feel at that moment. The show itself is a pseudo three dimension version of the title romcom, complete with a live orchestra performing the music score.

Jess Vargas provides the musical supervision, arrangements, and orchestration of the score as performed by a fifteen piece orchestra. Although there are a few original numbers performed as part of the music repertory, most of the other tunes are taken from established sources from top-40 (Bye Bye (Baby Goodbye), Puppy Love, Jump (For My Love, All You Need Is Love, etc.) to Christmas tunes such as White Christmas as extracted from “The Great American Songbook”, to even The Star Spangled Banner that is performed as music score only! There are also cuts played as taken from the film’s insedential music score as presented to just keep the continuity in check via its connection to the film.

The show itself hosts a robust cast that sing, dance (thanks to Sumie Maeda’s choreography) and overall keep up the pace to its content. The ensemble group consists of (as listed in their named alphabetical order), Tomasina Abate, John Battagliese, Declan Bennett, James Byous, Gabriela Carrillo, Nayah Damasen, Rogelio Douglas, Jr.,Jon Robert Hall, Carson Higgins, DougKreeger, Ruby Lewis, Emily Lopez, Chris Mann, Carrie Manolakos, Molly Rogers, Aubrie Sellers, Levi Smith, and Rex Smith.

For a musical show as this one, its running time is rather long, clocking in at two hours, forty five minutes, including the fifteen minute intermission. Granted, the feature film this show takes its premise from runs a little over two hours–a rather long running time for a romcom, especially for one that has its British flavor. And unlike its American counterparts, the term “Christmas” is freely used as British tradition and standards usually allow. (In the USA, “The Holidays” is the term used to describe the event that falls on December 25th!) But this show isn’t about the war on Christmas. It’s about falling in love!

The theater group For The Record Live conceived the idea of taking a movie and mashing it together with a stage musical. It’s a very interesting and amusing concept. And since it’s the time of the season to promote peace on earth and good will to all, LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE is the place to be, and it’s what all you need!

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE, presented by The Wallis Annenberg Center and For The Record Live, performs at The Wallis Anneberg Center for the Performing Arts’ Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. (at Canon and Crescent Drives) Beverly Hills, until December 29th. Showtimes are weekdays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2:00 and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 PM. Special matinee performance on December 27th at 2:00 PM. No performances on December 24th and 25th.

For ticket reservations or for further information, call (310) 746-4000, or via online at http://www.TheWallis.org/Love
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The Santa Monica Playhouse will present their annual NEW YEAR’S EVE MUSICAL REVIEW, the self titled event that will celebrate the changing from the old into the new through music, song, dance, with doses of comedy.

Featured in this production are a selection of songs and skits extracted from the vast repertory of past shows that have appeared at the SM Playhouse over its many years. Much of this assemblage of these stage pieces are original for this theater, or those that made its first appearance on their floorboards. So one will witness highlights of those one-of-a-kind shows that are charming, witty, and most of all, very family friendly! They will put a smile on your face and a pleasant skip within one’s souls. A great way to enter a new year on its right track!

And what makes a New Year’s celebration complete are all of the goodies that go along with it! Your evening includes a buffet supper, champagne/sparkling cider, and party favors that will guide everyone in attendance to slide from the end of the old “teens” decade into the new decade–the Roarin’ 20s!

The SMP’s NEW YEAR’S EVE MUSICAL REVIEW will have two performances: 6:00 and 9:30 PM. The early show (6:00 PM) is more family oriented, presenting on opportunity for kids of all ages to spend a real “grown-up” New Year’s celebration! The later show (9:30 PM) will feature on-stage dancing with champagne toasts! Of course, there will be sparking cider for those that desire a sip of the bubbly minus the “kick”!

The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street (at Wilshire Blvd.) Santa Monica. For more information on these shows, call (310) 394-9779 ext 1, or visit the SMP online at http://www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com
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On December 11th, The Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board announced the twenty five film titles that will be entered as part of the LOC’s National Film Registry.

Under the guise of the National Film Preservation Act, the LOC chooses twenty five titles that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least ten years old at the time of creation or public release, and must be an American production or co-production. Any motion picture can be chosen as long as it meets those guidelines, and do not necessarily have to be a commercial production. (Amateur and home movies can be selected.)

Each year, the LOC selects the titles are suggested by the LOC’s film preservation staff, moving image scholars, as well as the general public.

Listed below are the twenty five titles along with its year of release/creation. A “#” in front of the title indicates that it is a non-feature length film. (Short subject, amateur film, etc.) “D” indicates the title is a documentary/non-fiction selection.

Amadeus (1984)
Becky Sharp (1935)
(D)Before Stonewall (1984)
Body and Soul (1925)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Clerks (1994)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
#Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
Employees Entrance (1933)
(D)Fog of War (2003)
Gaslight (1944)
#George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
Girlfriends (1978)
(D)I Am Somebody (1970)
(D)Last Waltz, The (1978)
#My Name Is Oona (1969)
A New Leaf (1971)
Old Yeller (1957)
The Phoenix City Story (1955)
Platoon (1986)
Purple Rain (1984)
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Zoot Suit (1981)

For more details on the above titles including titles of other films on the registry as well as how to vote for the 2020 selection, visit the LOC’s National Film Preservation Board web site at http://www.loc.gov/film
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RICHARD JEWEL (Warner Bros.) stars Paul Walter Hauser as the title character. As a young man living in northern Georgia specifically in the Atlanta area, he desired to get into law enforcement. He eventually did by becoming a security guard who did his job “by the book” with a no-nonsense approach. He lives a humble life with his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates) in their apartment unit in a suburban area. He received an assessment as a security guard during the 1996 summer Olympics taking place in Atlanta that year. While doing his beat at Centennial Park, he discovers a specious backpack left under a bench. Upon doing his job clearing the area after it was discovered it contained a bomb, it explodes. Since he did his part in warning those in the area reducing possible causalities, he becomes a local hero. However, something doesn’t seem to click at first as Richard was known to be an aggressive security guard. FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) who was assigned detail at the park, begins his investigation of Richard if he was involved in planting the bomb in order to become an “instant hero”. Reporting this event for the local newspaper is reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) who was the first that received this scoop. As Richard was quickly turned from hero to suspect, he takes upon the legal services of Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), a person Richard knew from his early days. This episode begins a long struggle of clearing Richard’s name for a crime that he didn’t commit.

This movie is yet another film based upon a true story of the actual Richard Jewel who was a real suspect in the bomb attack that marred the Olympic events taking place in 1996. Using the magazine article that first appeared in Vanity Fair in 2007 written by Marie Brenner as its base, Billy Ray’s screenplay of this episode starts off rather well. Once the investigation begins, the pacing of this movie starts to slow down, almost to a crawl! In fact, it becomes rather dull in spite of its premise! If this title was let’s say, a TV feature or a movie created for video screen viewing verses a theatrical setting, the pokey movement may be forgiving. After all, when one is watching traditional television, one may be doing something else. (Paying bills, cooking a meal, clipping toenails, etc.) So whatever would be happening on screen wouldn’t necessarily be missed. But if one is inside of a movie theater, one can’t do anything else–or they should not be doing anything else anyway! (Playing with a phone, etc.)

The evergreen Clint Eastwood, known for appearing in action packed movies from not so long ago, directs this film in the same fashion as to a feature created for the small(er) screen. There are a lot of close-ups during dialogue scenes between the characters, especially between Richard, his mom Bobi, and his attorney friend Watson. Again, this is ideal for a TV setting. But for a theatrical movie? Maybe…?

Granted, awards season is just around the corner. This is perhaps the only reason why movies such as this one is made and released. If one wanted to see an action movie that contains more fast paced thrills than talky people doing something for the good of another, wait until the late spring as those titles will become readily available for consumption. Yes, they may be pictures that are “tentpoled”, remakes, reboots, and/or sequels, but at least those titles will deliver their maximum entertainment value!

Since this movie is based upon a true story, would it be a spoiler alert to note that Richard didn’t do what he was suspected in committing? Anyone can always read the article that the premise to this film was extracted from. And so it goes!

This movie is rated “PG” for cussing and minor violence. Now appearing in multiplexes nationwide.
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1917 (Universal/Dreamworks) takes place during “The Great War” a.k.a. World War I in April of the title year. Stationed near the western front in central France, a pair of enlisted men fighting for Great Britain, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are assigned a mission by their commanding officer. Their job is to deliver a message written on paper to a platoon planning to engage in an attack with the German troops. This battle is some distance away, enough where they must cross the German occupied region. This attack was set by the enemy as a trap where the platoon would become wiped out. Among those fighting within this platoon is Blake’s brother (Richard Madden) serving as a Lieutenant. It is up to Schofield and Black to complete the assignment as they travel on foot through dangerous regions to deliver the message that would save the British army in such a disastrous fate for their nation and for Blake’s elder sibling.

This latest entry in war movies, a genre that hasn’t hasn’t seen much action (no pun intended) in recent years, isn’t another battle picture that feature the usual scenes such as massive guns going off, bombs exploding all over the place, as well as the typical caricatures of the fighting men in action. (They were usually men, although women were added in wars taking place after 1990, but that’s besides the point!) This WWI feature written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns consists of the two leads George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as Schofield and Blake, traveling from their platoon base to the other platoon location going through the usual war traps, from slogging through mud embedded battle grounds, encountering an abandon German outpost complete with booby traps, passing among bombed out villages, and keeping an eye out for the “Jerrys” that may be armed lurking in the brush. Their movement throughout most of the feature is set within a staging where there are limited breaks in the camera shots. That is, appearing where all of the action takes place in real time akin to a stage play where everyone and everything in moving through complete syncopation. (Thee are a few breaks within the camera as being “always on”, but it’s barley noticed!) Unlike a movie that attempted to use the same method of cinematography called Birdman or through its complete title Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance that wound up as headache inducing, Roger Deakins’ method of cinematography doesn’t distract, yet somehow enhances this continuity non-breakage. This real reasons toward this form of visuals is because there is a lot of action going around for what it is. Granted, there are a few bombs going off, gunplay taking place, and even a German airplane crashing to the ground. (What kind of aircraft that crashed isn’t known to this writer.) But most of this form of “action” is between Schofield, Blake, and the elements around them!

Sam Mendes, who has directed a pair of James Bond flicks in recent years, directs this feature that does use the same techniques to what one would find in a Bond vehicle. However, unlike the JB flicks that feature weaponry that are overloaded with special effects that are over-the-top akin to a standard super hero title, this title uses EFX only when needed. After all, this is a war movie y’know!

Also appearing in this feature is Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Claire Duburcq (the only on-camera female in the cast), with Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch as Captain MacKenzie.

Is 1917 another “gimmie-an-Oscar” picture? This could become the case as there are lots of elements to this film that would work in becoming an award winner, such as the intense acting action between the two leads, the for noted cinematography, Thomas Newman’s music score, the fact that this is an all-British production, etc. There won’t be any nostalgia aspects factoring in as anyone that could remember The Great War is long dead and gone! And for the record, there are no period songs performed on its soundtrack. So don’t expect to hear any early jazz recordings being played out!

This feature is rated “R” for war related violence and occasional cussing. Opens December 25th in limited release, and on January 10th, 2020 at most multiplexes nationwide.
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JUST MERSEY (Warner Bros.) stars Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, an African American civil rights attorney based in Connecticut and fresh out of Harvard law school. He takes upon the case of Walter McMillian (Jamie Fox), who in 1987, was apprehended, accused, and committed to death at the state penitentiary in Alabama for the murder of an eighteen year old white woman. Walter claims his innocence as he states that he was nowhere near the site of the actual murder, as well as a witness, Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson) a fellow criminal currently servicing time in prison on another charge, states he was present at the murder site yet he held a personal motive to lie. In addition, the rural Alabama community is run by a group of white leaders that doesn’t necessarily cater toward racial equality. This case intrigued Bryan enough to assist the doomed Walter to have a retrial that would prove his innocence. With the aid of a local civil justice advocate Eve Ansley (Brie Larson) that handles such cases, the two team up in their effort to work with Water on gaining his second chance in court to get his name cleared.

This story, taken from Bryan Stevenson’s memoir of the same name and thus “based on a true story”, is a very well crafted drama. Michael B. Jordan as attorney Bryan Stevenson holds well in his dramatic performance. Ditto for Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian, who is always on the edge between facing death through execution, and becoming the free man he long desires. Destin Daniel Cretton (who also directs) and Andrew Lanham’s screenplay shows how the long process of starting this case lasted for years, long before with the access of technology later becamse part of this process. (The story itself takes place mostly in the early 1990’s, as much of the film’s look and feel reflects this period.)

The above paragraph states some of the higher notes that this theatrical film contains. What may work against it is the fact that this title plays out as a 1990’s-era feature, especially for a movie released toward the end of the calendar year. That is the season where the movie studios both large and small(er) would release their best movies in order to become candidates to win awards, better known as “gimme-an-Oscar” titles. That step may have worked out in the 1990’s when theatrically released movies held more clout, in spite of the presence of home video and cable TV. In today’s age, melodramatic movies (such as this one) would play better when viewed through a smaller screen (television) available for immediate streaming. In fact, the pacing of the film moves rather slow. This pacing is fine for a feature as seen through a video monitor set inside of a home domain as one can watch the film while doing something else, such as sorting out laundry, paying bills, or even playing with one’s smartphone while texing, tweeting, and social media posting! It’s rather tough to do those same functions while seated inside of a large darken room loaded with strangers at a movie house. Sure, you can use your phone as the film plays on the big screen. One just might irk the fellow patrons!

Again, JUST MERSEY holds plenty of merit for what it is. However, the studios must remember why movies are made and why people will trek out of of the house to a theater to see the film. The answer to that statement is movies are made to make money. People go to the movies to be entertained. This writer can’t express the box office take to what Warner Bros. et. al may earn for this title. As far as its entertainment value? That is why super hero action-based “tentpole” pictures exist, as well as CGI animation titles! Those films don’t preach or make some kind of a statement. This movie goes toward that route!

PS…would it be another spoiler alert to note that Bryan Stevenson succeeds in proving that Walter McMillian was indeed innocent from his charges and was released eventually from prison? It would have been a more interesting movie if Bryan did fail to spring his client. But this is all besides the point!

This movie is rated “PG-13” for cussing and TV-style violence. Opens December 25th in regional areas where industry voting members reside. Opens on January 10th, 2020 for the rest of the nation at selected multiplexes.
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This issue will be the final edition of Accessibly Live Off-Line for the 2019 calendar year. We will be taking the next two weeks off, and will return with Vol. 25-No. 1 starting on the week beginning January 6th, 2020.

On behalf of the staff and management of ALOL, we wish everyone a safe and progressive holiday season!

See you in 2020 vision!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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!

FROM UNCONTENDED COWS

Because the holiday season consisting of Christmas, Hanukah, and other related festive events are taking place this month, we normally write up a piece that expresses these events. However, we’re going to take time about an active lawsuit where “happy” doesn’t apply!

It appears that a class action lawsuit has been filed that states the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is made from dairy not sourced from “happy cows” as advertised, but with milk from factory based farms.

James Ehlers of Vermont filed a case against Unilever, the company that acquired this ice cream company stating the Mr. Ehlers became aware through its advertising that the product was sourced from what was called “happy cows”–hereon referred to as “HC”. However, the factory farms that uses the said farm animals to extract product are not the same kind of HC one would find in a family run farm in Vermont where Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has its origins. The farms themselves are not necessarily based in Vermont, but outsourced from other farms that are more corporate than the farms run by an independent family based entity.

Unilever, once known as Lever, and once known as Lever Bros, obtained this company around the turn of the 21st century. Although it still maintains the natural “hippy”-esque vibe and aura that made it famous throughout the nation, it has over time progressed into another frozen desert product that is lost its roots from where it began.

It’s been critiqued and noted that corporate farms tend to “force” their farm animals into producing the products, such as chickens for their eggs, cows for their milk, etc. that could be described as anything close to a “happy” environment.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who founded their company, no longer has any role in the company’s day-to-day management. Their names and likeness are still prominently presented on the ice cream’s packaging.

More details on this lawsuit can be obtained through the court filing known as James Ehlers v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., et al., Case No. 2:19-cv-00194-cr

We, of course, are not involved in this case, nor are we in the legal field. (If we were, we wouldn’t be churning out this news service every week!) However, it’s rather interesting to note that somebody out there is concerned over the state of being for some cows at work rather than from folks as to someone like “us”! We don’t really know who this “us” is, but it’s going to be assumed that it’s in the range of a working class group of people that are not churning out a seven digit amount of annual earnings.

For those that are working, and that is more than it was than, let’s say, ten years ago around this time during the so-called Great Recession period, many people are getting rather stressed out in their work. Many people are currently taking up temp jobs in the retail industry during this seasonal time just to either earn a few more dollars on top of their regular jobs, or are taking these roles as their main and only job.

Then there is the “gig economy”, that is a permanent temporary occupation where one is working not so much for a company per se, but for an assessment that is deemed as short term. This could be a gig that ranges from doing some accounting, preparing documents, walking a dog or dogs, and of course, playing cabbie for those ride sharing services. These are gigs that are not dispatched from a corporate office or from some real live “boss”, but from some website that is accessed through an application (“app”) found on one’s laptop or phone device that can call out what has to be done at a given moment. Those assignments are placed based upon the demand of the task at that moment. These gigs are all as ‘catch-as-catch-can’, meaning they arrive when they arrive outside of a given schedule.

Are the folks that do such assignments happy in their work? Some are, while many are not! There are been notices from those that are within the inside (i.e. working in that industry) that will say otherwise, usually through social media applications. Some will state these conditions by using their “real” names, or by way of anonymous announcements.

But this reporter won’t get into the details too deep on how one should be happy at their job. This is indeed a festive season where folks are making their mad scrambles into grabbing seasonal gifts for those on their list, be it for family, friends, or even for themselves! After all, what’s wrong of presenting a gift that has a tag that states, “Merry Christmas (or its equivalent) from Me, to Me”? At least you will know that you will like it and won’t return the item around the last week in December!!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Sierre Madre Playhouse closes out their 2019 season with the comical farce, EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME), where the title nearly say it all, bringing in the spell toward the expected yuletide tales with a humorous twist!

Garrett Botts, Sean Paxton, and Phillip Rossi appear as Garrett, Sean, and Phillip. They are three souls that attempt to show how much of the Christmas classics are done so many times, no explanation for them is even needed! Among their many little episodes they demonstrate, they tell the story of the green nosed raingoat, a presentation of a mashup between A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life, their unique spin on ballet The Nutcracker, a vague tribute to animated TV specials of yore, as well as adding Macy’s Thanksgiving Day’s parade within the mix. For two hours–give or take with the fifteen minute intermission added, these merry gentlemen show don’t rest. In fact, their skits and measures focus on the most merry–and then some!

Michael Careton, Jim FitzGerald, and John K. Alverez compiled the script, while Will Knapp provides the original musical interludes under Sean Paxton’s music direction performing on the keyboards. This builds the show as a sort-of musical. (Of course!) Gary B. Lamb provides both the stage direction as well as choreography that is added. Cate Caplin provides additional choreography, along with the dance arrangement for the Nutcracker segments!

All of these antics are done on stage under Gary B. Lamb and Christian Lebano’s scenic design that has these sets with images of holly, wreaths, Santas, along with a cheesy looking scene as its backdrop from a forgotten production of Charles Dickens’ biggest (and only) seasonal hit!

Also appearing in this production is Dale Sandlin as…Dale!

Christmastime, or to be more generic, The Holidays, are a period to make merry. This show is one of those reasons behind this trend! So as Tiny Tim would say, “Are there no prisons?” (OK! So TT didn’t udder that line! But who’s keeping score??)

EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME), presented by and performs at the Sierre Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierre Madre Blvd, Sierre Madre, until December 29th. Showtimes are Thursday, December 12th and 19th, Friday, December 13th, 20th, and 27th, and Saturday, December 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th at 8;00 PM, with Saturday/Sunday afternoon performances, December 7th, 8th,14th,15th, 21st, 22nd, 28th, and 29th at 2:30 PM.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (626) 355-4318, or via online at
http://www.SierreMadrePlayhouse.org
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THE AERONAUTS (Amazon Studios) takes place in London in the late summer of 1862. Felicity Jones is Amelia Wren. Her father experimented in traveling in a hot air balloon to study the atmosphere. However, he lost his life by falling from a balloon during an experiment that went wrong while Amelia was working at his side. Although she survived the accident, that episode still haunts her. Eddie Redmayne plays meteorologist student James Glaisher. He is studying the science of predicting the weather at a nearby university. His studies brings him the notion of flying onto a hot air balloon and to get as high as he can by giving him the prestige of becoming the first person to travel the highest reach. Amelia knows about the science in flying a hot air balloon from her late father. She also holds an acrobatic skill in the same sense as a circus performer. So through her connections as well as source of financing, the two team up to make this task to pilot a hot air balloon, a feat that holds a lot of dangers.

This feature film is a tale of two well being spirits that defy the challenge of flying a hot air balloon in the name of science while based in 1860’s Britain, a time that is usually placed for historical dramas loaded with lavish costuming with a historical refined sense of state. Jack Throne, who developed the story with Tom Harper, and composed the screenplay under his film direction, creates a film that holds the thrills and suspense that any other kind of movie would hold where someone is piloting some form of method of transportation for its first time with the risks that are usually involved in such feats. The period this movies sets itself is not in the 20th or the 21st century, but during a time that is usually reserved for period melodramas that are more akin to involving high-hat society!

And with such period dramas that take place in the U.K., there’s a lot of “eye candy” to see, from Alexandra Byrne’s costume design to David Hindle and Christian Huband’s production design or the interiors and exteriors sets. There’s a lot to focus through those creations that would hark a historic English period right after the time of Charles Dickens, and right before the period of Queen Victoria. And of course, a number of decades before the era of Upstairs Downstairs as well as its current rendition, Downton Abby. Such period dramas tends to cater toward a seasoned aged female demographic.

One notable thing about this movie. Although the two leads, Felicity Jones as Amelia Wren and Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher are both young (20s), good looking, and hold enough British charm in their personalities, there is not one moment of any hints of romance! The two never even go to embracing each other, let alone giving each other a peck on the cheek! This sense of sterile and somewhat platonic dealings may be somewhat of a turn off to that female demographic this movie could sell to. Also, although the two do survive their experiential trip with a lot of close shaves of near death within their hot air balloon journey, James winds up getting all of the credit in conducting his experiments with his university staff, while Amelia is just pleased that she can accomplish a dangerous mission. In other words, this could be a story where everyone lives happily ever after in its traditional sense, yet it doesn’t necessarily wind up this way.

Since Amazon Prime needs content for their video streaming service in order to compete with Netflix and the rest of the streaming bunch, they need to present material that would cater to the biggest form of viewer demographic in terms of gender appeal. Men won’t necessarily find this movie to their liking as the “action” isn’t of the ‘shoot-em-up’ variety loaded with explosions and gunfire! Women may find the period drama very appealing with its British sense of attraction. They may also appreciate a strong female lead. But without the romance that their counterpart programs of this ilk tends to fulfill within its plotting, it’s going to fall flat!

But what group will the movie serve? It appears that this title is for those voting members of movie awards that tends to consist of a group that doesn’t see movies for sheer entertainment! It’s just another “gimmie-an-Oscar” feature that will have its biggest run via video streaming than playing itself out in an “art” movie house. It will appear in those theaters after it clears its run for a two week timeline before it’s available to stream via Amazon Prime. (Spoiler alert?)

PS…it does feature a cute terrier dog in a brief role with Bella playing Posey (the dog)–for what that is worth!

THE AERONAUTS is rated “PG” for intense action and minor bloodshed.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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!

HOLIDAY ANTICS-REVISED

It’s been a tradition through the annals of retails where folks are doing their best to get their shopping done for the season known as “The Holidays”, the period that runs until the end of the calendar year that involves the exchanging of gifts and related items.

Since last summer(!), retailers both as physical outlets as well as those existing in cyberspace have been doing their best (or worst) in getting folks to buy their goods for this season. Some of these outlets have been toting “Black Friday” sales as early as the Labor Day weekend. And this recent Black Friday–the day after Thanksgiving, found some uptick to the traffic that came in and out of the stores. But it wasn’t the mad scramble day that it once was long before shopping online became trendy, if not the norm!

However, there have been some folks that completed their shopping traits for the year. These aspects are not to be confused with the people that completed their shopping from the previous season. This is saluting those that completed their shopping for this time of year!

To give one an example (if one really needed an example), we know of one person who will call “Olif”. Now, Olif asked those on its list on what everyone had a mild interest in getting. Once Olif received a tally from the people it knew, then Olif went shopping online and/or through the stores it visited on a regular basis. Olif would grab the items through these means. Then Olif would label each of the goods with the name(s) of the people that the gift would go to. Those same goods were then stored in a container placed in a secure location where Olif could get access to. As soon as the time arrived, Olif would unpack the goods from the container, wrap them up in some kind of decorative matter using wrapping paper, ribbons, and perhaps a fancy container itself.

And before long, Olif would give those on its list the items with a cherry “Happy Holidays” greeting attached, and that would be done and over with! Olif usually finished its shopping trips around July–August at the very latest. So for the next four or so months, the items would remain until the big gift giving day arrived.

Before this writer continues, you readers may have noticed why I didn’t identify Olif’s gender. This was to protect Olif’s privacy since we did not secure permission from Olif on what it does each year. You may say that for this time, Olif is what’s known as “Non Binary”. Olif could be a he, or could be a she. Whatever the case, Olif as far as we are concerned is best known as an “it”. Granted, this may not be the proper term to call somebody that ain’t a he and/or she. So don’t be offended that we don’t call Olif for what that is. Besides, chances are that you are not on Olif’s gift giving list. If you are, then we apologize. If you are not, then don’t worry about this and just move on!

We are pleased that Olif is on the ball when it comes to things such as getting gifts months before the fact. However, we will state that Olif is a bit compulsive in that it dose compulsive actions throughout its life. Perhaps that is the reason toward the gift giving long before the fact. But we digress.

Perhaps this little episode may influence you the reader in taking a tip from Olif. Then again, you may not even give a hoot in hell! That’s OK though. Olif won’t mind, let alone care! Just as long as the retailers out in shopping center and/or cyberspace land get their sales, what difference does this all make anyway?
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Glendale Centre Theatre presents their 54th annual production of Charles Dickens’ beloved classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL, a tale about an old grumpy skinflint who realizes about the magic of the season thanks to the aid of a trio of spirits from the past, present, and those shadows yet to come.

You already know the plot! But for those that seek a brief reminder, here it is. In 1840’s London, accountant Ebenezer Scrooge (as portrayed by Guy Noland), doesn’t care much for the Christmas season. He finds all of the mirth and merriment that’s around him as “humbug”. He would rather ignore the holiday than to embrace it. On Christmas eve, after his sole employee Bob Cratchit (Shea Taylor) begs him to have Christmas Day off, Scrooge is visited by a group of spirits, known as the ghost of Christmas Past (Amanda Greig), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Steve Teague), and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. (Preston Simpkin) This set of specters, the first two rather friendly and warming, show Scrooge a few faint episodes of his life set for the Christmas season, where he embraced the joy that once existed. The third spirit, resembling a grim reaper, gives him a glimpse of what may happen if the old man doesn’t charge his state of heart and attitude.

This GCT production, a seasonal legacy for this theater group, is always a delight to experience. The costuming by Angela Manke sets the tone to the story and era-a specialty stage trait for this theater as they have always presented period pieces that speak for the period. The Dickens tale itself is cleverly adapted for this stage for a theatre-in-the-round space where every seat is a “good” place to view. It boasts a huge ensemble cast (25 players) that perform the various characters that are part of the Dickens repertory. (Space doesn’t allow this reviewer to list ‘em all, but each one places their own personal mark to this time tested tale!)

The mother-daughter duo of Zoe Bright & Tayah Howard directs this show to its fullest extent, bringing out all of that charm and grace that this presentation shows itself to.

In addition to the players as seen on stage, Paul Reid serves as lighting designer, stage manager, and choreographer. Steven Applegate, a GCT regular known for his transcribed musical direction and arrangements, is on helm for a few musical intrudes, forming this show as a mini musical i.e. a “play with music”. These little intervals set the moods within the scenes depicted, rather than songs added that can break up the action as some other musical shows tend to suffer with.

There are a lot of Christmas Carols out there as stage works, either presented as straight dramas, full blown musicals, and even as parodies. (And all are pleasant for what they are!) Nevertheless, leave it to the GCT to present a holiday tradition that will carry long after Scrooge’s ghosts make their annual appearance. Place that in your cup of tom and jerry and savor the wordiness.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, presented by and performs at The Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until December 24th. Showtimes are Thursdays December 12th and 19th, Fridays, December 6th, 13th, and 20th, and Saturdays, December 7th, 14th, and 21st at 7:30 PM, Saturday matinees, perform on December 7th, 14th, and 21st at 2:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons, December 8th, 15th, and 22nd at 1:00 PM. Additional performances take place Tuesdays, December 3rd, 10th, and 24th, and Wednesdays, December 4th and 11th at 10:00 AM, Mondays, December 16th and 23rd at 7:30 PM, Thursdays, December 12th and 19th at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, December 22nd at 5:00 PM,

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the web site at http://www.GlendaleCentreTheatre.com
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Performing at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Hollywood is Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR, a tragedy that speaks of the vicious circle of Brutus as he takes part in a plot led by Cassius to murder the title character in order to prevent him from becoming Rome’s dictator.

Although the original play, first present c.1599 and takes place c.44 BC, the version as appearing on the Hudson Theater stage occurs in an unset time and space, although it could be placed within the era of now in a post modern military based setting.

Leah Zhang appears as Julius Caesar, a military general that was the leader behind the rise of the Roman empire. Nathan Nonhof is Cassius, a senator and general known as a leading motivator in the plot to eliminate Caesar from rule that would occur on March 15th-“the ides of March” that Caesar was warned about. Kaite Brandt is Decius Brutus, one of the leading masterminds of Caesar’s murder plot. Tori Danner performs as Mark Antony, a Triumvar of the Roman Empire and a supporter of Caesar. Julius Hoover appears as Octavius, and Paul Dixon plays Flavius.

Besides the transition of the setting of this classic tragic tale from ancient Rome of the common era of the present, many of the roles are gender reversed. This change of male/female characters do not distract the meaning and mood of the original intentions this work has first brought. In fact, it enhances it out even further, where its characters speak the same lines that The Bard created some 400 plus years before.

Amy Setterlund provides the costuming that consists of many of its leading and secondary characters donning black with a shade of blue that represents those in the Roman political circles, with its senators displayed with a red colored smock-type wear. In its second act as the play develops, the characters are dressed in contemporary military gear in their camouflage fatigues. David Zahcacewski’s set design consists of a set of vertical panels colored a light drab color, along with a few wooden boxes that once held ammo. These floating props and panel settings suggest that there is a military style presence through its visuals.

And speaking of military, many of its performers that appear in this production are actual veterans of the armed forces. Paul Dixon as Flavius served in the Air Force. Christopher Loverro, who appears as Marcus Brutus, fought in the Iraq conflict of recent years. Trevor Helms, one of a trio of performers that are dancers: personas that serve as incidental characters as well as those that appear to introduce a changing scene, was a medic in the Army.

The theater company that is presenting this production, Warriors for Peace, consist of civilian performers working with military veterans that use the arts, especially the works of William Shakespeare, to promote peace, healing, and fosters the principles of global citizenship by bringing veterans of different nations together in the arts–as stated through this theater company’s mission statement.

For those that enjoy a tale of tragic drama only The Bard can conceive, as well as to support those that placed their life on the line in the name of the freedoms of the USA, this production is indeed worth one’s theater presence. It goes to showcase that such dramas only get better through the ages, and the cause of military might is not to harm nor destroy, but to provide a severance of peace, justice, and the not just the American way, but for those that live in a would that respects the for stated points of freedom and justice.

Whatever the circumstance, this stage performance of Julius Caesar is very well executed, and worth its well intended look.

JULIUS CAESAR, presented by Warriors for Peace theatre, and performs at The Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Wilcox), Hollywood, until December 22nd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.

For ticket reservations and for more details, visit http://www.WFPtheatre.com
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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!

THANKSGIVING REVISED

For those residing in the USA, this week is Thanksgiving week. This is the time where people gather together to socialize, catch up on various things and events that were not posted through social media platforms, and of course, eat like there is no tomorrow!

This season as celebrated in the USA and its territories has been the focused upon within the media for longer that one may realize. In many TV shows and feature films, the depiction of this holiday has been projected between as sweet and charming, to a source of major comic relief–mostly focusing upon the latter!

For many folks, the fiction part tends to reflect upon the reality toward such a gathering. A lot of these same folks tend to use family as a basis for getting together. (“Family” in this case, means people that are related to one another through birth, marriage, or other forms of relations based upon current legal standings!) Many family member do get along, always pleased to see one another in person when such face-to-face meetings are not necessarily possible. Others just tolerate each other, holding some kind of dispute that was never settled in some form of methods. The rest can’t stand one another, latching on to a medium that will never be resolved through reasons only know to one another. These grudges could have lasted for longer that expected from weeks to decades!

But this article isn’t about how family at a Thanksgiving get together tends to duke it out with one another. Those scenes can be viewed in a number of feature films (Home For The Holidays, The Ice House, etc.) as well as isolated episodes found in a number of sitcoms. (Waaay too many titles to list here!) But the whole process of this holiday kicks of the last six weeks of the calendar years where Thanksgiving is one of three holidays (maybe four or five) that occur between later November through January 6th.

Before we continue, this article stresses upon what is commerated within the USA boundaries. In Canada, Thanksgiving Day occurred last October 14th, the same day that that holiday referred to as Columbus Day and/or Indigenous Peoples Day lands on. (Now you know!!)

Anyway, let’s get back to the story. There are many methods to celebrate this time of giving thanks! For a number of seasons, many of the lifestyle magazines that catered toward home making and home keeping would offer tips on staging such a Thanksgiving based gathering through the use of decor, table setting placement, and of course, how to prepare the meal. Titles ranging from Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Family Circle would have their November issues chock full of pictures and descriptions of how to pull off these stunts. And the November issue of Family Circle will become its last hurrah for Thanksgiving ideas as its parent company, Meredith Corporation, announced that the December Christmas/Holiday edition of FC will be its last as it ends its print run after 87 years!

Thanks to the online world that is known to anyone over the age of two, one can find plenty of those same ideas and suggestions throughout cyberspace. Some of these ideas are traditional, while others ranges from unique to totally off kilter. But this is the early 21st century, so some of those classic and traditional rules don’t necessarly apply!

And even how people gather has taken a change over the recent years. Because of the chance (threat?) of possible family fights and disputes that take place around the dinner table (assuming that there is a dinner table to gather around), many folks have “adapted” family members to meet for Thanksgiving. These people are personal friends that are not necessarily related to one another. They can be friends that are actually pleased to be with one another! These form of holiday gatherings have been dubbed “Frendsgiving” where they mimic a traditional family Thanksgiving session, except those meeting are there by personal choice and suggestion. These same gatherings are also treaded as potlucks, where attendees bring a dish (main and/or side) that are designed to be shared by everyone in attendance. And such Friendsgiving events are popular to the Millennials and Gen-Z aged crowd. Those are folks younger that 40, are not necessarily legally married, and stress their food options in more of a serious and accepted matter. The turkey main dish may not even be a “real” turkey! It could be a vegan-style food. And even the side dishes may cater to certain food-based lifestyles. (Vegan, gluten free, etc.) This way, everyone attending would be satisfied since those same folks are present because they want to be together, rather than being there through circumstance.

Of course, this writer can continue upon other Thanksgiving based traditions, from having the TV device on all that day so those football fans and view three games back-to-back. (Check your local listings for game times and channel!) Or to the notion of folks taking pictures with their phone devices to later post throughout the usual social media platforms for all to view and admire. Whatever the case, Thanksgiving is a time where one should pause to give thanks for those elements that make up part of a domestic life and style.

So here’s to you dear readers! We do wish our thanks to you for all of the events and happenings that occurred since the last time we paused to give our thanks, or “thanx” using a bit of creative license!

PS..we do know about the Black Friday thing. However, Black Friday started last July, when the folks at Amazon offered free shipping day(s)! It may not have been “Black Friday” per se, but it sure placed the biggest invisible retailer “in the black”!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Continuing its run at the Antaeus Theatre Company of Glendale is the world premier of Jennifer Maisel’s EIGHT NIGHTS, a drama about one woman’s journey of an existence from her darker past and she moves towards a present state of being, all taking place during a festive seasonal eight day celebration.

The story focuses upon Rebecca Blum. She is a German Jewish woman who becomes a refugee extracted from the tensions in her native homeland during World War II. The story opens during the period of Hanukkah, 1949. Rebecca arrives to a humble apartment located in New York City’s lower east side at age 19 resided by her father Erich (Arye Gross). She was once inside of a death camp run by the Nazis, yet she survived. Her siblings and mother were not as lucky. The story moves forward through a number of decades. As Rebecca matures, she experiences a domestic life living within her Jewish community, from her marriage with Arron (Josh Zukerman), the birth of her daughter Amy (Zoe Yale), her daughter’s marriage to son-in-law Steve (Devin Kawaoka), the birth of her granddaughter Nina (Zoe Yale), and those that became “adapted” family: Benjamin (Christopher Watson), and his wife Arlene (Karen Malina White). Through the many years from one Hanukkah season to another, Rebecca attempts to recall her past life as she still struggles to live for the time of the present, long after those in her life have come and gone through many trials and tribulations.

This is a play that gives emphasis to a sole woman that has seen more personal visions and exposers in her many years through being a devoted spirit of the Jewish persuasion, and how those visions were linked to those around her as to the period of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Two performers appear as Rebecca during the stages of her life. Zoe Yale plays the lead as a younger woman. Tessa Auberjonois is Rebecca as a more mature being. Each episode in her timeline shows how she escapes what she went through while living in Germany and how the people that were not blood family holds a common bond to what she had faced. The drama shown during the performance can become tense at times, yet it never loses the grip of the sense of hope and forgiveness, even if that hope becomes positioned within an apprehensive state of consciousness.

The cast of the six other players, some appearing in multiple roles, work well with one another that do reflect for the life and times of Rebecca, thanks to Emily Chase’s stage direction. It tells these episodes as a single act play. Unlike other single acts that can wrap up a story line within a hour’s time, this performance holds a length of one hour, forty minutes. And unlike other stage sets that present itself without an intermission, this play keeps its pacing without the break of any continuity whatsoever. With such passing, an intermission isn’t necessary and rightly so.

Edward E. Haynes Jr’s scenic design shows the apartment where the entire play takes place. Unlike a so-called basic dwelling unit that existed throughout Manhattan’s lower east side, it’s a place that is well kept for what it is. Alex Jaeger’s costuming reflects the era of each period installment with a touch of staying modern for its time frame.

EIGHT NIGHTS is a play that stretches through its eight nights over a near seventy year prolonged time frame. It may be a long journey of space, but it’s a virtual trip that looks back with remembrance as it peaks forward with better intentions.

EIGHT NIGHTS, presented by the Antaeus Theatre Company, and performs at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway (at Brand Blvd.), Glendale, until December 16th. Showtimes are Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. No performance on November 25th.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 506-1983, or via online at http://www.Antaeus.org
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Angel City Chorale will present their annual holiday concert STARRY STARRY NIGHT, a seasonal celebration that will include its standard concert performance & an audience participation sing-a-long.

Founded and lead by Sue Fink serving as artistic director, this concert will feature a selection of cherished songs that speak for the festive occasions that fall within the month of December. The diverse playlist will offer musical offerings ranging from classical, traditional, contemporary popular, rhythm & blues, gospel, and all points in between.

Traditional selections presented consist of Vivaldi’s Domine Fili Unigenite, the Jewish hymn Hine Ma Tov, the Spanish carol/villancicos Los Peces en el Rio
and the west coast premier of the Swahili seasonal number Njooni Waaminifu, an original piece composed by ACC favorite Christopher Tin.

For those that desire seasonal tunes extracted from big screen favorites, The Home Alone Suite composed by John Williams will be featured, along with the soulful Joy With Joy to the World from The Preacher’s Wife, When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt, and a melody of songs taken from such films as Meet Me in St. Louis and White Christmas.

The chorale consists of an ensemble of 180+ voices that as just as diverse as to what the season speaks for. Male and female voices blend with those that are from all faiths, backgrounds and lifestyles. Along with the voices is a full orchestral company that will provide the musical interludes that make this chorale group a time-tested audience favorite

STARRY STARRY NIGHT, will perform at the acoustically perfect Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles (Koreatown) 90010 for two performance: Saturday, December 7st, and Sunday, December 8th. Both performances take place at 7:30 PM.

For tickets and for more information on all concerts, as well as for the Angel City Chorale, visit ACC’s presence on the web at https://angelcitychorale.org
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On behalf of the staff and management of Accessibly Live Off-Line, we wish each and everyone one of our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

We’ll see you for our next edition coming in the next week!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

Details@AccessiblyLiveOffLine.com
AccessiblyLiveOffLine@gmail.com
Details@LinearCycleProductions.com
http://www.AccessiblyLiveOffLine.com
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(Accessibly Live’s channel on YouTube)
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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!

TV’S “THRILL IS GONE”!

Although the above headline may suggest that this writer is making a comment on a specific TV program or series distributed through any portal that transmits moving imagery that may be viewed on any electronic device that sports a screen, this article is about how that said content could become connected to the lack of video anticipation.

Once upon a time, long before cable television, and waaay before streaming video was known to exist, the “big three” television networks, consisting of The American Broadcasting Company (ABC), CBS-formally known as the Columbia Broadcasting System, and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) would introduce their new programs in the fall of each year, mostly in September, but at times could bleed into October. These new programs, airing during the “prime time” hours between 8:00 PM through 11:00 PM Monday through Saturday, and as early as 7:00 PM Sunday (Eastern/Pacific times zones–subtracted one hour for the Central time zone), would be hyped up as early as July through their national channels and by way of local affiliates that promised that this season would become the “best season ever!”.

TV Guide, perhaps the be-all-to-end-all publication that wrote about television in the USA for the consumer audiences, would publish their Fall Preview Guide around the second weekend in September that would also hype up all of the new shows that would be seen throughout the year and for future seasons to come. That is, unless the shows that were hyped up would even last through its thirteen season probationary period!

Of course, times have changed. With cable TV once considered as TV’s second coming, as well as the rise (and fall) of the video cassette recorder (VCR), the rise (and steady hold) of the digital video recorder (DVR), and of course, the rise of every loving streaming services that are part of the new “second coming(s)” of TV, the thrill of new(er) programs to view on a video screen doesn’t hold that same anticipation as it used to possess.

Granted, the TV season of tradition still exists, running between September of one year through April/May of the next. Nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything that is introduced as new and different will commence at the head or even the middle of the seasonal schedule. (Middle season meaning January or so). Programs in this day and age begin when they begin, and end when they end, either through design (the program has a limited number of installments) or through circumstance. (The program ends production because of various reasons.)

There was one time that CBS attempted to introduce their new TV season in late summer. At the start of the 1975-76 TV season, the network offered “sneak previews” of some of their newer shows. Among the few that were launched right before the Labor Day weekend was a dramatic series called Beacon Hill. This series was a period drama set in the Beacon Hill district of Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1920’s that spoke upon their lives of a wealthy multi-member family and their hired staff of butlers and chambermaids. When the series was first presented as a special program in early August, the rating and interests were large. Two weeks later, the regular run made its mark on the CBS schedule. This series, attempting to catch on to the success of the PBS airings of Upstairs Downstairs featured its same look and feel. Lavish (and rather expensive) sets were build on various sound stages on the Paramount lot. Costuming was also of the elite design. And the writing was long drawn and somewhat flowery in speech. The network thought that they, a commercial advertiser supported video source, were going to beat PBS in their own game! However, although anticipation was set high at first, viewers became rather tired and perhaps bored in what they were tuning in to. Making a long story shorter and after thirteen weeks had passed, the series came to its end in early November, never to be seen again!

This would be the time of year where that TV fatigue would begin to make its mark. However, that time of year would be geared toward the anticipations of the holiday seasons with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner. And interestingly enough, those two holidays are big TV viewing periods, usually through special programs or sporting events that only come around that time of the year.

As of this writing, Disney+ the most awaited streaming service to come around the video landscape this year has launched. It’s a bit too soon to discover how much of the anticipation has affected its fan bases. But one thing for sure, those video fans won’t necessary get tired right away to what’s available. But with Disney being Disney, there will be plenty of material for that media company is to offer in order to entertain, if not overwhelm, its viewership!

PS…It would be interesting to discover if the series Beacon Hill will ever become available to view again through the streaming portals. (CBS All Access?) It’s a program that is worth its second look some 44 years after the fact! So as they say, stay tuned….!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Odyssey Theatre presents the American premier of Pat Kinevane’s BEFORE, a virtual pilgrimage of a man’s search for a gift to a long absent daughter through the spirit of stage musicals and those in between.

The plot revolves around a man named Pontius who travels to a large department store in Dublin to purchase a 21st birthday gift for his daughter who he hasn’t seen in some seventeen years–and will be meeting within the hour! But the story doesn’t end there. Pontius then morphs into telling more tales ranging from (among many isolated episodes), from how he obtained his name to the men that doesn’t wash after their restroom trips! As this is a musical adventure, he proceeds to sing and dance in the style of a Broadway musical from the glory days. As he emotes, he speaks with a deep Irish brogue and his verbiage progresses through his odyssey. The entire setting he plays through is presented through a surreal backdrop. It all begins through a thick stage fog where the entire performance field is blacked. As Pontius enters, he begins rather normally. Then the mood changes into a rather tense atmosphere. By the time his quest comes to its conclusion, he does obtain that gift for his daughter that a good father figure would accomplish.

Pat Kinevane, the star of own his presentation, creates a performance that uses a fantasy ploy through the boundaries of his skills by speaking with an Irish method while singing, (again, with an Irish twist) and dancing. (No special geographic region, unless “Broadway” is considered an ethnic dominance.) Pat’s scripting of his performance and the emoting he forms makes this showcase very amusing. What adds towards its flavor are the musical components. With a score by Denis Clohessy through transcribed music performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra conducted by Cathal Synnott with the choreography by Emma O’Kane, Pat Kinevane as his alter ego Pontius (named after a one-time governor of the district of Judea rather than a “pilot”), does his musical schtick that pays its homage of the tuneful stage shows once born on The Great White Way. One can see the ghosts of those shows from Chicago to Oklahoma and all points in between!

Jim Culleton directs this show that has Pat working overtime and he enters his task of what could be a simple process–shopping for his kid’s birthday–into a sphere of unearthly fate, comedy, drama, and of course, signin’ and dancin’! Unlike a typical stage show where it features a cast of thousands (so to speak), Pat has no one else to guide him through except his own persona as he is in the lead. He does use a few props as an aid including this writer’s favorite, a pair of glowing iPad minis! But it’s Pat all the way up and way out; the latter term not to be confused with “exit” as Pat’s only one is right at its end–and it’s quite sudden to match!

Also heard in the performance are the transcribed voices of Clelia Murphy, Kez Kinevane, and Alex Sharpe.

What makes this show unique is its title. Pat Kinevane carries right on through through its ninety minute running time. And if there is to be a sequel, that title could be known as During followed with After. For the moment, it’s BEFORE, and it’s “now”!

BEFORE, presented by The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and Fishamble: The New Play Company is association with Georganne Aldrich Heller, performs at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, until December 8th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Special post-performance “talk back” discussions take place on Friday, November 15th and Sunday, December 1st. No performance on Thursday, November 28th.

For ticket reservations and for more information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2, or via online at http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for the third entry in their 2019-20 season, the Los Angeles premier of Colin Spear Crowley’s FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM, a drama about the campaign nomination of Walter G. Harding for president, and the back story behind it all.

The setting is during the Republican National Convention in Chicago in the early summer of 1920. David Hunt Stafford plays Harding, a senator from rural Ohio. He was set to become nominated during the convention as the presidential candidate. His campaign manager Harry M. Daugherty (John Combs) is getting his name across during the convention’s day of balloting. Harding’s wife, Florence (Roslyn Cohn) holds an uneven feeling toward the outcome. Being in a superstitious nature, she even went ahead to consult a fortune teller on what may transpire once her husband takes over the candidacy for the possible winning of the election. Adding toward this is Nan Britton (Sarah Walker) a younger woman who happens to be Harding’s second mistress! These aspects that materialize on that day in Chicago brought forth the political based “smoked filled room”, where secret meetings would take place under heavy cigar smoke through the power brokers that could settle the results of a political movement with a lot of deal making on the side!

This single act play written by Colin Spear Crowley takes its premise based upon true facts to the Harding campaign that did involve a series of scandals, including the Teapot Dome Scandal taking place later in Harding’s term in office. The cast of characters that appear in this Theatre 40 production show off their performances as tight as the story itself. Although it’s rather talky in nature, this talkiness moves the story into the highs and lows of political based drama based upon actual episodes–with a little bit of creative license blended for dramatic effect.

Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s residential set decorator, creates a set that portrays a plush hotel suite at the Congress Hotel where much of the “smoke filled room” events did come to pass. This time around, no spoke is depicted on stage!! Michele Young’s costuming shows the same period fashion that was standard as worn during the political arenas.

Also appearing in this presentation is Kevin Dulude as George Harvey, a journalist and central figure into the smoke filled room proceedings, and Roger K. Weiss as a radio announcer.

Directed by Jules Aaron, FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM is a play that takes an inside look to the forming to one of America’s least preferred presidents in terms of running the nation through scandals, affairs, and other back handed details. Although what did came about happened nearly a century ago, it’s another part of preferred drama that adapts well on the Theatre 40 intimate stage set.

FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM, presented by Theatre 40 and performs at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located within the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off little Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until December 15th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM, with additional Sunday evening performances on December 1st and 8th at 7:00 PM. No performances on November 28th and 29th.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
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The Lounge Theatre of Hollywood presents the world premier of SALVAGE, a drama about a young musician set between a hard edged and well seasoned singer, songwriter, and “preacher” all rolled into one!

In a run down roadhouse located far from nowhere, a man known as Preacher (David Atkinson) has set this place as his pulpit. He doesn’t preach the gospel from the Good Book, but from the gospel of a hard scrubbed life. He has his guitar in hand as he plays as he “prays”. The only candle and incense that burns in this “church” are from smoldering cigarette butts and from stale beer. Johnson (Leonard Earl Howze) serves as the barkeep that overlooks his place that is just as run down as Preacher. In walks Harley. (Christopher Fordinal) He’s a young singer and songwriter who has his guitar within reach, but is just as down and out. He has a young spouse who can sing named Destiny (Nina Herzog) who is currently carrying with child. Harley arrives at this location with an anxious attitude since this joint was the actual spot where legionary singer/songwriter Floyd Whittaker met his demise. (It was due to chocking on his own vomit, most likely set from substance abuse!) Harley finds Preacher as a man to follow in terms of what he grasps through his music. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned first. Both the students and the teacher, or “preacher” discovers more from one another through the music that they know and worship.

This single act play with book by Tim Alderson is self described as a “play with music”. To be more precise, it’s really a full fledged musical! The songs performed on guitar by both David Atkinson as Preacher, the elder one in age, personna, and through his consumption in beer and whiskey, and Christopher Fordinal as the younger and eager Harley, performs a selection of original songs as composed by Mark Heard, Pat Terry, Randy VanWarmer, and Tim Alderson. The songs themselves consist of tunes that are more as folk in nature, rather than what’s been called as “traditional country”. They speak for the times in life where they can become hard, with the ever present sense of desire, hope, and fortune. Nina Herzog, who plays the young and expecting wife of Harley who just happens to be named Destiny, sings a pair of songs with a voice that is sweet in nature and spirit. A total of eleven musical pieces are performed in this single act program. Each tune sets the tone of the times and lives of the young man, the genteel wife, and the booze laden gent that play his version of a man of the cloth. The only performer that show no musical talent in this piece is Leonard Earl Howze as Johnson the barkeep. He a heavy set African American man who resembles a blues player than a modern day troubadour slinging an acoustic six string.

Adding to the mood to this showcase is what appears on the intimate stage set. Joel Daavid’s scenic design of the roadhouse is lined in shades of grey with the necessary equipment found in rundown out-of-the-way dive joints from the longneck bottles of beer to a underused jukebox that could have been loaded with songs by Hank, Cash, and Jones. Wendell C. Carmichael’s costuming of the players is just as appealing in terms of being pretty as they are scrubbed.

Stephan Terry provides the musical direction to the series of tunes that Atkinson and Fordinal perform as both a single and duo act.

Directed by Damian D. Lewis, SALVAGE is an appropriate title to a musical play (or dramatic musical) that speaks upon the notion of what can be salvaged can be utilized as a true entry to destiny. There are more to the lessons of life that can be found inside of a roadhouse. Just as long as the music is playing and the beer is flowing, anything is quite possible through the word of the “lord”!

SALVAGE, presented by Theatre Planners and performs at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (at El Centro, one block east of Vine Street), Hollywood, until December 15th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM.

For ticket reservations or for more details, call (323) 960-7712, or via online at http://www.OnStage411.com/Salvage
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FORD V. FERRARI (Fox) stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby, a professional race car driver and engineer. He’s been driving on various tracks for some time. After winning in Le Mans in 1959, he lays off on the driving side now getting back into designing cars. Meanwhile, the Ford Motor Company, always in second place behind General Motors, holds the desire to do something different. Under the supervision of junior executive Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), the company wants to build a fast car, even with plans to team up with Italian auto maker Ferrari still run by its founder, Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) to create a racing division. When that deal falls through, Lee turns toward Shelby to build a car that can even beat Ferrari’s fastest car. Shelby himself turns to British born race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to team up to build that dream car. With their ups and downs on the test track as well through their personal relationship, they complete that car, ready to race at the 24 hours long Le Mans rally in 1966.

This is a movie that concentrates between the conflicts set between Carroll Shelby, as portrayed by Matt Damon, and his “frenmy” Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Shelby is seen as the “cool” guy. He knows his stuff as he has a team of car designers working under his belt. Ken Miles is more of a family man. His wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and their son Peter (Noah Jupe) both back him up as they are rather hip to the motor sport world. The first portion of this film deals with the conflicts set between the two leads, and they go through the process of building the car that will beat the all mighty Ferrari. The final third is where the action takes place where Shelby, Miles, et. al. are in France where the car they have built will take on all comers at this day long race at Le Mans. This is where and when this feature really shines its brightest throughout! The screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller has its own ups and downs. The “down” part of this feature consists of the “talky” scenes between Shelby, Miles, Ford executives, etc. (“Talky” in this case means “non-racing” scenes!) But when the cars are front and center, this movie steps on the gas!

James Mangold directs this film that is very much akin to any form of biographical feature of late. Although it is based on true facts, there are some creative license to it all. But that’s not really the point here. It’s a great film to view that has a balance between drama and action to hold on.

As this film makes its way into the movie theater scene, there has been some talk about placing Damon and Bale into the award season scene. Perhaps so. However,for those that enjoy a movie where the cars are the real stars, FORD V FERRARI will fit that bill.

PS..even though this is a period movie (1960’s), the soundtrack features some tunes from the era, but those sounds don’t overtake the style and mood. Its real “music” is the sounds of Shelby built Fords, etc. revving up their engines. For any “gear head”, that is music enough for their ears!

This feature is rated “PG” for mild cussing and violence in the classic “punch out/drag out” variety style of fighting! Now playing in all multiplexes nationwide.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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!

PLAY OR “PLAY”?

A few weeks ago, The New York Times presented an article about theater etiquette, a form on how theater goers should behave themselves while attending a play or some other live production.

This method of behavior of how one should act (no pun intended here) and how one should present themselves while attending a performance has increased in scope over the recent years. As one could guess, good ol’ smartphones are often the blame for the unruly behavior that has been witnessed in theater settings, both in large houses and small “hole-in-the-wall” joints!

The most obvious forms of unwanted and unacceptable behaviors involves using a phone during a performance to text messages, capture moving imagery of what’s going on stage, and even engaging in a conversation while the play is progressing! All of these actions are obviously annoying to both the performers doing their thing on stage, and the audience that is seated within the darken theater setting.

This writer has attended a lot of theater shows over the many years. And what yours truly can confess, I (now writing in first person) have witnessed people playing with their phones during the performance using a combination of the above noted procedures as the show moves forward.

Right before a performance, a voice (live or pre-recorded) will usually inform the audience to take upon a few house rules, such as noting where the exits are in case of an emergency, not to bring food or drink inside (bottled water seems to be OK), and to unwrap that candy piece NOW! Along with those basic rules, the non use of phones are mentioned, informing the same audience to place them on silent or even to off so they don’t go ringing while the actors emote their lines. Ditto for sending texts while the play is in progress. (They do encourage you to text during the intermission or after the play to inform the textee how great–or not so great–the play was!) And one form of “no-no” is to capture any imagery of what is going on stage. This is usually in the realm of copyright procedures since the theater presenting the show are not allowed to use any of the mechanical rights to a play. These “mechanical rights” usually consist of recording the show (audio and/or video) in any means and methods. Yes, it’s understood that a live show is that–a live show. Once that show is done and gone, noting remains. But even if the theater has some form of rights to capture the play, the audience members can’t do such!

This is most true in these post-modern days of social media. Many people, especially those that attend plays running in big theaters such as the ones in New York City, attempt to sneak a capture of a play or musical. Some do isolated scenes while others will attempt to capture the entire production–sound and video and all!

If one make an attempt to troll such spots as YouTube and other places where video content can be uploaded and found, one will find such examples. If one is seeking a stage capture of a “hot” show, chances are one will find it! If the management company who owns the show or the company that runs the theater where the show is based, they may stop the uplinks. But with more people capturing shows attended verses the managements that owns the shows and/or the theaters, if one source is stopped, another one will spring into gear to fill that void.

In fact, yours truly were able to “attend” such hot shows (at the time anyway) of such theater programs ranging from The Book of Mormon to Hamilton, all in the comfort of my home base. Yes, seeing a lavish musical production from the point of view of somebody sitting in the upper balcony (the place where a good number of shows are shot from) capturing the show using a phone device that tends to be of shaky and distorted video quality with the sound giving off a lot of reverb, isn’t the greatest way to experience theater. However, if one can’t score tickets (let alone afford them) for a play and/or musical that “everyone” is taking (or texing or tweeting or posting) about, it’s better than nothing. And since one can see these shows for “free”, one can’t beat the price!

A disclaimer here. When I attend plays for review, I never use my phone during the show for any reason! I will also never capture any imagery (moving and still) of the show. This includes the stage set before the show begins–unlike some people who do the same thing I do (review theater) that I personally know, usually in the form of posting pix on their Facebook home pages. As to seeing shows through somebody’s else’s video capture? I will not review a play and/or musical through these methods since seeing a show live vs. through moving imagery isn’t the same! One day when I have the opportunity, I will review The Book of Mormon as a live production and to really find out if the show is as great as everyone who has seen it claims it to be! (I found it “amusing”, but not “great”! Maybe that’s just my personal tastes!)

So a friendly bit of advice from yours truly. Please don’t text during a show or even use your phone during a performance. And don’t capture any of the show’s performance. You can even be ejected from the theater if you are caught doing this. (I know this because I have actually seen somebody being thrown out for violating this rule. At least the management waited until the intermission to bounce this person out!)

And for that person who insists to let everyone know where he is going thanks to his Facebook notices, I’m glad that you are able to prove to the world on what play you are attending by capturing the stage set. And if you are indeed a theater reviewer, how about actually writing a review rather than just showing off to what production you did attended?

But that’s just part of show biz!!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents for their second entry of their 2019-2020 season, Dave Hanson’s WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT, a comedy about a pair of understudy actors waiting for their big break in appearing in a production of a classic play and it performs on a stage.

Bruno Oliver and Joe Henandez-Kolski star as Ester and Val, two thespians that are stationed at a theater dressing room set backstage. On the bill is Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Ester attempts to be an actor’s actor who performs for the sheer art of emoting other people’s lines taking a director’s directions. Val is another actor that holds a lot of comical charm and grace. In spite of the talents they possess, they are cast as the understudies, meaning that they can shine on stage assuming that the real stars are not able to perform! As they wait, they sweat it out with themselves on how they can become the performers as they are. As they emote with one another, they discuss through words and actions about everything from the art of acting, their place in the theater world, and if they could score an agent! As the play progresses, they become trapped inside of their own personal play where the conflicts and pathos is presented to an audience of one–each other! That is, unless they can count upon the assistant stage manager Laura (Julie Marchiano) to notice what they can do. But she is just the assistant stage manager a.k.a. the ASM, whose job is to make sure that everyone involved doesn’t miss their cues as it states in the script’s stage directions!

This single act play written by Dave Hansen and making its west coast premier courtesy of The Sacred Fools, is a comical piece about two thespians that can act better off stage than on! The two leads, Bruno Oliver and Joe Hernandez-Kolski perform with the same comical timing in the style of a comedy team from the days of vaudeville and burlesque when physical comedy was king! (Also very common as seen in two reel film comedies of yore before the movies learned how to “talk”!) Jacob Sidney as director keeps their pacing up from frantic to near panic stricken as the duo hope they can emote the lines that made Beckett one of the theater world’s most respected playwrights.

Besides the action that progresses on the intimate stage, Aaron Francis’ scenic design consists of a dressing room one would normally find in a small theater, complete with racks of costumes, posters from past plays tacked upon a side wall, as well as the lighted mirrors where the actors apply their greasepaint on their faces. Edgar Landa provides the choreography, and Stephen Simon serves as the physical comedy consultant that takes its cues ranging from Stan and Ollie to Olson and Johnson!

And with the spirit of what this play is all about, it also features real understudies, with Steve N. Bradford and Zach Smith appearing as Ester and Val, with Marion Gonzalez appearing as Laura. Since these three are the genuine understudies, it’s not known to this writer if they are actually backstage awaiting to appear in this production with the same method and finesse as to what is seen with its main players. One can call this practice Waiting For Waiting For Waiting For Godot, but this is overkill as that stands! So much for theater!

WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT, presented by The Sacred Fools Theater Company and performs at The Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. one block west of Vine Street, Hollywood, until December 14th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sunday, November 17th, December 1st and 8th at 5:00 PM, and Monday, November 18th at 8:00 PM.

For ticket reservations, email the Sacred Fools at SFReservations@SacredFools.org, or via http://www.SacredFools.org
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DEFENDERS, Caillin Maureen Harrison’s drama about three fighting solders trapped in a remote location and those in the region who ply themselves between those invaders fighting for the cause in connection to the land they are set within, makes its world premier at The Broadwater Blackbox theatre in Hollywood.

It’s the spring of 1942. In the remote island and village of Hrisey, Iceland, a battle exists between the allied forces and the invading German troops who are attempting to take possession of this nation, currently in neutral status. A trio of American G.I.s consisting of Lt. Marcus Jansen (Bryan Porter), Sgt. Frank McKinley (Tavis Doucette) and Pvt. Fred LeFleur (Spencer Martin) take refuge in a well weathered church. A massive storm has settled upon the island where they become isolated through weather and circumstance. They have minimal ammo, and a radio device that isn’t operational. Lt. Jansen is the leader of this troupe that are out looking for the invading Germans that may be near. Without their firearms, its connected equipment, and a communication device, they are out on their own. While inside of the church, they encounter the pastor, Geir Styrsson (John P. Connolly) and his daughter Vigdis. (Una Efferets) Although Pastor Geir tolerates these G.I. taking refuge in his church, he informs these servicemen in the mists of their battle about the myths and legends this island community has faced over the many years and centuries from other invaders. Lt. Janson is a man that takes orders through his C.O., and accepts the pastor’s warnings as contained anecdotes. But these mysterious sagas are not just fables, but play a role between surviving the forces–those that are part of nature, military strength, and of mythology.

This single act play written by playwright Caillin Maureen Harrison is a drama that is as intense as a war-related saga can withstand. The action is fierce, tight, (very tight mind you), and is a stage piece that one can’t take one’s eyes off of! It’s not just limited as a set where a war ravishes and the fighting men go gung-ho through the process. It’s more of how a ragtag troop of military peacekeepers are in the center of battle between the enemy and the surroundings they face with the quest of who they are defending for.

The characters that consist of the solders, Sgt. McKinley as portrayed by Tavis Doucette, Lt. Jansen played by Bryan Porter, and Spencer Martin as Pvt. LeFleur, have their conflicts yet stick to being a military team that use their wits to survive. And the pair of locals, Pastor Styrsson as played by John. P. Connolly and his daughter Vigdis Geirsdottir as featured by Una Efferets, stand upon their neutral ground with the awareness that there is more power existing within their land that isn’t military force. These elements make this play work its magic as it crosses the line between a war drama to one that is of the human side of things through a mythological based milieu.

The real attraction to this production is what is seen on the intimate stage. David Goldstein’s scenic design consists of a weathered worn church that has seen its better days. Adding to its mythological effects is Dominik Krzanowski’s lighting design, showing off the aspects of battle along the lines of real and mythos.

This production directed by Reena Dutt is a turnaround that speaks for the writing talents of playwright Callin Maureen Harrison. A play she also composed and was recently presented on stage, Last Swallows (see review, Vol. 24-No. 38) was a rather cute and charming little comedy. DEFENDERS is a very intense and “big” drama that shows more of a “war” than a war itself! This reviewer will look forward in experiencing more stage plays as created by this playwright. This program is highly recommended!

DEFENDERS, presented by Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company, and performs at The Broadwater Blackbox theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Lillian Way), Hollywood, until December 8th. Showtimes are Saturday and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM.

For ticket reservations and for more details, call (323) 960-5770, or via online at http://www.Onstage411.com/Defenders
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