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As I continue to clear out the news chum: My RSS feeds and emails have brought me a number of theatre season announcements, so it’s time for another episode in: Thoughts on a Theatre Season.

***

The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) is a great musical theatre venue at the southern edge of LA County. They have recently announced their 2017/2018 season:

  • AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’. September 15 – October 8, 2017 (Press Opening September 16). Music by Thomas “Fats” Waller. Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz. Choreography by Jeffrey Polk. Directed by Broadway’s Original Cast Member Ken Page. With Frencie Davis. One of the first, and arguably, one of the best, jukebox musicals. It might be fun to see this again.
  • END OF THE RAINBOW. October 27 – November 12, 2017 (Press Opening October 28). Written by Peter Quilter. Directed by Michael Matthews. I saw this at the Ahmanson; no strong desire to see it again.
  • CABARET. January 19 – February 11, 2018 (Press Opening January 20). Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. I’ve seen this a few times; I don’t think it is worth the drive for what is likely to be a good production.
  • TO BE ANNOUNCED! A Rodgers & Hammerstein CLASSIC! April 20 – May 13, 2018 (Press Opening April 21) Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. As they wrote: “This will be an evening our audiences and subscribers will surely be enchanted by!”, this is South Pacific. Further, given that VPAC is doing South Pacific, this is likely the VPAC show moving to La Mirada. I’ll see it in Northridge, thank you.
  • NEWSIES. June 1- June 24, 2018 (Press Opening June 2). Book by Harvey Fierstein. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Jack Feldman. Another great show. However, having seen it recently at the Pantages, I don’t have a strong desire to make the drive to see it again.

***

The Antaeus Theatre Company (FB) is a classic theatre company, formerly of North Hollywood, in new digs in Glendale. Their season has also just been announced:

  • Les Liaisons Dangereuses, adapted by Christopher Hampton from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos, directed by Robin Larsen. (Previews Oct. 19 through Oct. 25, runs Oct. 26 through Dec. 10, 2017). This story of seduction and intrigue set in the decadence of pre-revolutionary France isn’t just a battle between the sexes — it’s war. A classic of potential interest.
  • The Hothouse by Harold Pinter. A wild, impudent and blisteringly funny look at a government-run mental institution in which the wardens may be madder than the inmates. (Previews Jan. 18 through Jan. 24, runs Jan. 25 through March 11, 2018). Again, potentially of interest — it also has dates that are normally are empty because no one schedules in January.
  • Native Son, adapted by Nambi E. Kelley from the novel by Richard Wright and directed by Andi Chapman. Richard Wright’s iconic novel about oppression, freedom, and justice (Previews April 12 through April 18, runs April 19 through June 3, 2018). Doesn’t sound that interesting to me.
  • Three Days in the Country by Patrick Marber, a version of Turgenev‘s A Month in the Country directed by Andrew Paul. In this passionate and comedic update of Turgenev’s classic, a handsome new tutor brings reckless, romantic desire to an eccentric household. (Previews July 5 through July 11, runs July 12 through Aug. 26, 2018) Another “ehhh”.

***

Theatricum Botanticum (FB) in Topanga has at least one show of interest this summer:

  • Starting June 3: William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, directed by Ellen Geer. Not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I’ll pass.
  • Starting June 4: Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Director Melora Marshall. A regular production at Theatricum. I’ll pass — June is already pretty full.
  • Starting June 17, Sir Peter Hall’s stage adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, featuring music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell. Very timely, and not often done. Color me interested.
  • Starting July 8: Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities. We saw this recently at the Mark Taper Forum. Given the crowded summer, we’ll pass
  • Starting July 29: Alice Childress’ Trouble In MindNot really interested; besides, given our summer schedule, there is no room.

***

Many years ago, we used to subscribe at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB). They have a new artistic director, and have announced their new season:

  • Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, a joint production with Deaf West (FB), starring Jane Kaczmarek. September 26–October 22, 2017. Potentially interesting, if we hadn’t just seen it in Actor’s Co-op last season.
  • Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, which played a hit run on Broadway in 2015. The play imagines the future of the British royal family after the Queen’s passing. November 7–December 3, 2017. This one is potentially interesting for the subject matter alone.
  • Chicago company The Hypocrites’ immersive adaptation of Pirates of Penzance, directed by Sean Graney (January 23 – February 18, 2018), which is also set to play Off-Broadway. Not that interesting.
  • Culture Clash’s Bordertown Now, a reimagined and revisited take on the group’s 1997 show Bordertown (May 29–June 24, 2018). Potentially interesting for Culture Clash and the likely reference to Los Angeles, but I seem to recall that time is already pretty booked.
  • An additional play will be announced at a later date. Not a great surprise for the Playhouse.

***

Lastly, , the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) has announced their one unspecified show: Five-time Tony Award® winner Susan Stroman (Show Boat, Contact, The Producers) returns to direct and choreograph an all-new production of the acclaimed musical comedy that launched her Broadway career — Crazy for YouThis is potentially interesting, and always a fun show. However, it doesn’t make it worth a season pass, as I can get $25 tickets once they go on sale, and the cheapest season seats are $33.

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userpic=fringeThe Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) schedule is starting to gel. I’ve done some further planning over lunch, and here is how June stands. We are ticketing in two groups: this weekend (¹), and right after June 1st (²), to split the charges.

Saturday, June 3:

⇒ Unavailable to Fringe

Sunday, June 4:

⇒ Until 4p – Annual Gluten Free Expo | [K/R]
⇒ 6p – Hey Hollywood! My Hustle has ADHD | [D/K/R¹]
⇒ 8p – Robot Monster the Musical | [D/K/R¹]
⇒ 930p – Buffy Kills Edward: The Musical | [D/K/R¹]

Saturday, June 10:

⇒ 3p – The Heart Change – Ink Theatre | [D²/K²]
⇒ 5:30p – 86’d | [D/K]
⇒ 7p – Insuppressible: The Unauthorized Leah Remini Story | [D²/K²]

Sunday, June 11:

⇒ 3p – Five Guys Named Moe @ Ebony Rep | [D]

Saturday, June 17:

⇒ 1p – Pretty, Witty Nell | [D²/K²] (Poss. Canc.)
⇒ 3:30p – Zombie Clown Trump | [D/K]
⇒ 5:30p – Conversations ‘Bout The Girls | [D/K]
⇒ 7:30p – Inversion | [D/K]

Sunday, June 18

Fathers Day – Open

Saturday, June 24:

⇒ 11:30a – Hello Again, The Songs of Allan Sherman [D²/K²/R²]  (Maybe)
⇒ 3p – Slightly Off Broadway (Chromolume) | [D²/K²/R²]
⇒ 5:30p – Trump in Space | [D/K/R²]
⇒ 7p – The ABCs | [D/K/R²]
⇒ 9p – Reasons to be Pretty / Maxwelton | [D/K/R²]

Sunday, June 25:

⇒ 2p – Transition | [D/K]
⇒ 4p – Khant Hotel | [D²/K²]
⇒ 5:30p – Bachelorette by Leslye Headland | [D²/K²]

Note:

  • To see the full Fringe guide, click here.
  • There are those out there that I’ve bamboozled into thinking I’m a reviewer‡, and who want me to see their shows. In order to do so, (a) it would have to fit in the schedule above (including transit times between theatres), and (b) be agreeable to the boss (K), and if applicable, the pseudo-daughter (R). Ethics rules from work are ingrained in me: I do not take free tickets, but will gladly do half price or some other discount.

‡: I’m just a cybersecurity specialist who loves attending live performance, being an audience member, and telling my friends and others who read my blog about what I see, so they might see it as well.

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I need your help in planning my Fringe schedule. The following was in my most recent theatre writeup about my plans for the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB). I’m working on the schedule now. The shows of interest are as follows — however, the total for tickets is over $700, which is way too high. I need help paring down this list. Not all of these are currently in our schedule (¤ unscheduled as of now). If you know of any discounts for these shows, or have recommendations / disrecommendations, please let us know. Note that I’m generally restricted to Fringing on the weekends (living in the valley and working full-time).

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My last post dealt with some season announcements I was mailed. Here is some other theatrical news I’ve seen of late:

  • Allegiance. The George Takei musical Allegiance is coming to Los Angeles. I say George Takei, but he really didn’t write it: The show music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Kuo, Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione. It was inspired, however by Takei.  It is coming to the East West Theatre: “Allegiance” is scheduled to run from Feb. 21 to April 1, 2018, at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo.
  • Spamilton. Perhaps you couldn’t get — or couldn’t afford — tickets to Hamilton. Don’t worry. You can go to Spamilton instead. Spamilton is starting its National Tour at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Nov. 5 through Dec. 31. Tickets will be $25 to $75, subject to change. Single tickets are not on sale yet.
  • A Noise Within. Pasadena’s A Noise Within has announced their 2017-2018 season. A lot of classics and good shows, but nothing that is strongly enticing to me. But it might interest you. The season is: A Tail of Two Cities; The Madwoman of Chaillot; Mrs. Warren’s Profession; A Christmas Carol; Henry V; A Raisin in the Sun; and Noises Off.
  • The Tour List. Two shows that got shut out of major — or any — Tony glory have announced tours: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Anastasia. These are both shows that would expect to show up in the Pantages 2018-2019 season.

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As I have received some more season announcements (this time, to theatres to which I subscribe), it’s time for another installment of season reviews.

First up, Actors Co-Op (FB), which has announced their 2017-2018 season, as well as this summer’s Co-op Too! series (which is included with subscriptions). Here is Actor’s Co-Op’s next season:

  • The 39 Steps (Sept 22 – Oct 29, 2017).  Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and film by Alfred Hitchcock. And it is with those words, playwright Patrick Barlow has crafted a crazy, over-the-top spy novel-type mystery that will have you laughing and giggling and aha-ing! in your seat. This six-time Tony Award nominee comes to life with flashes of Hitchcock movies, sprinkles of Monty Python humor, and a good dose of romance to boot. We saw this back when it was on tour after winning the Tony at the Ahmanson. It will be interesting to see a small stage production of it.
  •  The Man Who Came To Dinner. (Nov 3 – Dec 17, 2017). By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.  Get in the Christmas spirit with this comedy classic of the nightmare holiday guest who never leaves—or so it seems. Ex-convicts in the dining room, penguins in the library, and thousands of cockroaches in the kitchen, are just a few of the fallouts from the visitor who outstayed his welcome. I’ve heard about this show, and heard the musical that was developed from it, but haven’t actually seen this.
  • A Walk In The Woods.  (Feb 9 – Mar 18, 2018).  By Lee Blessing. From beloved playwright Lee Blessing, comes a story of relationship between two arms negotiators and what happens when they step out of the war room and into the woods. A Walk in the Woods, produced in 1988, played on Broadway, and Time magazine called it one of the best dramas to hit the stage that year. I have a recollection of seeing this at the Pasadena Playhouse, but can’t confirm it.
  • A Man for All Seasons. (Apr 13 – May 20, 2018). By Robert Bolt. A man of remarkable integrity, Sir Thomas More placed ethics before power. To stand up to his country’s sovereign authority cost him everything, but today it offers us one of the most inspiring stories ever staged. Although I’ve heard of this play, I haven’t seen it.
  • Violet. (May 11 – June 17, 2018). Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book & Lyrics by Brian Crawley. Beginning in 1964 North Carolina, Violet rides a bus through the segregated South, to a TV evangelist in Oklahoma. She is convinced he can heal her scar, which was the result of a traumatic childhood accident. From American roots to folk to gospel, VIOLET is a powerhouse of music and theatre that will have you tapping your toes, slapping your knees, and wiping your eyes. We saw this as a minimalist Kelrick Productions a couple of years ago at the El Portal; it will be interesting to see how Actor’s Co-Op does it.

A season like this demonstrates why someone subscribes to a theatre: to see shows you might not normally purchase tickets for. Given my druthers, as you probably noticed, I tend to pick musicals. Season subscriptions — back at Rep East, Pasadena Playhouse, or The Colony Theatre in the day, or at Actors Co-Op now, gives the depth to the season to balance my personal breadth. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the season prices are fantastic: $85 for 5 shows for “Early Bird” (in the first three weeks), or $110 for regular subscriptions. Here’s how to subscribe.

Oh, and it turns out the seasons include the Actors Co-op Too! Summer productions… meaning we get three more shows for our subscription dollar. Here are this summer’s shows:

  • The Voysey Inheritance. (June 23 – July 1, 2017). by Harley Granville-Barker, Adapted by David Mamet. Edward Voysey’s highly principled world upturns when he discovers the family business he is inheriting has been defrauding its clients for years. To compound matters, he quickly discovers his, scandal-fearing family knew of the crime but allowed it to continue rather than face the shame of public disclosure. Haven’t seen this; sounds interesting.
  • Ruthie And Me.  (July 14-16, 2017). Book and Lyrics by Karen Westcott, Music by Marylou Dunn. A musical comedy about a love story between a man and a woman, a mother-in-law and daughter-and-law, and a people and their God. Based on the story of Ruth and Naomi. Sounds interesting.
  • The Last Five Years. (July 28 – Aug 5, 2017). Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown.Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk winning musical THE LAST FIVE YEARS ingeniously chronicles the five year-life of a marriage, from meeting to break-up and from break-up to meeting, showing the emotional struggle and deconstruction of a love affair. Seen this far too many times (Pasadena Playhouse, Rep East, ACT San Francisco), but it will be interesting to see yet another take on it.

In many ways, this is like REP’s 81 Series: Short run specialty pies. Should be Good.

***

This brings us to our next season: The Valley Performing Arts Center (FB). They, too, have announced their 2017-2018 season. We typically do a mini-season with them: 5-8 shows out of the entire season. Here is their season, and whether I am likely to ticket:

  • Sat 9/16 | 7PM. AMADEUS LIVE. Richard Kaufman, Conductor. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Members of the LA Opera Chorus.
  • Thu 10/12 | 8PM. Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. Korngold – Sextet for Strings in D Major. Shostakovich – Prelude and Scherzo for String Octet. Mendelssohn – Octet for Strings in Eb Major
  • Sat 10/14 | 8PM. Upright Citizens Brigade All-Stars.
  • Thu 10/19 | 8PM. To Ray with Love, Starring Maceo Parker Featuring The Ray Charles Orchestra & The Raelettes
  • Thu 11/2 | 8PM. Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. Pavel Kogan, Conductor. Dmitry Masleev, Piano. Rachmaninov – The Rock. Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1. Scriabin – Symphony No. 2.
  • Sat 11/4 | 8PM. Flamenco Legends by Javier Limón: The Paco de Lucía Project
  • Sat 11/11 | 7PM. DIAVOLO: 25-Year Anniversary Marathon. Signature works from the company’s Past, Present, and Future.
  • Tue 11/14 | 8PM. The Sachal Ensemble. Song of Lahore.
  • Fri 11/17 | 8PM. Bernstein on Stage. John Mauceri, Conductor. New West Symphony .
  • Sat 11/18 | 8PM. iLe. Special Guest Gaby Moreno.
  • Sun 11/19 | 3PM. Imago Theatre. La Belle, Lost in the World of the Automaton
  • Thu 11/30 | 8PM. Anat Cohen Tentet. Musical Director, Oded Lev-Ari
  • Sun 12/3 | 3PM. Hansel & Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat. Musical by Justin Roberts & Ernie Nolan. Fairy Tale by The Grimm Brothers. Animation Director: Micah Chambers-Goldberg. Directed by Michael Matthews.
  • Wed 12/6 | 8PM. Eliot Fisk. J.S. Bach – Cello Suites
  • Fri 12/8 | 8PM. Michael Feinstein Holiday Celebration.
  • Sat 12/9 | 7PM. Fiesta Mexicana: Feliz Navidad.
  • Sun 12/10 3PM. Colburn Orchestra.
  • Sat 12/16 | 8PM. The Klezmatics. Happy Joyous Hanukkah.
  • Fri 1/19 | 8PM. Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All-Stars with Harold López-Nussa Trio
  • Sun 1/21 | 7:30PM. Leilah Broukhim. Dejando Huellas (Traces).
  • Thu 1/25 | 8PM. Cheech Marin Hosts an Evening of Comedy. 3rd Annual CSUN Alumni Performance.
  • Fri 1/26 | 8PM. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. Charles Dutoit, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Debussy – Petite Suite. Haydn – Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major. Stravinsky – The Firebird.
  • Sat 2/3 | 8PM. KEIGWIN + COMPANY Celebrates Bernstein.
  • Fri 2/9 | 8PM. Step Afrika! Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence.
  • Sun 2/11 | 3PM. MUMMENSCHANZ: you & me.
  • Fri 2/16 | 8PM / Sat 2/17 | 8PM. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. Featuring Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
  • Wed 2/21 | 8PM. Danish String Quartet.
  • Sat 2/24 | 8PM. On the Waterfront, Film with Live Orchestra.
  • Sun 2/25 | 3PM. Dublin Irish Dance. Stepping Out
  • Thu 3/1 | 8PM. Miles Electric Band.
  • Sat 3/3 | 8PM. The Ten Tenors.
  • Sun 3/11 | 3PM. Yamato—The Drummers of Japan. Chousensha – The Challengers.
  • Thu 3/15 | 8PM. Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Joshua Bell, Director & Violin. A New Commission by Edgar Meyer.
  • Sun 3/18 | 3PM. Manual Cinema. The Magic City.
  • Fri 3/23 | 8PM. Billy Porter. The Soul of Richard Rodgers.
  • Thu 3/29 | 8PM. Kathleen Battle. Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey.
  • Thu 4/5 | 8PM. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
  • Sat 4/7 | 8PM. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
  • Fri 4/13 | 8PM , Sat 4/14 | 3 & 8PM, Sun 4/15 | 3PM | Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. McCoy Rigby Entertainment & La Mirada Theatre.
  • Wed 4/18 | 8PM, Thu 4/19 | 8PM. Cécile McLorin Salvant.
  • Sat 4/21 | 8PM. ¡La Nueva Cuba! The Next Generation. Roberto Fonseca. Daymé Arocena. Pedrito Martinez Group.
  • Thu 4/26 | 8PM. Amir ElSar’s Two Rivers Ensemble.
  • Sat 4/28 | 3PM. LA Opera presents Great Opera Choruses.
  • Tue 5/1 | 8PM , Wed 5/2 | 8PM. Terence Blanchard. Breathless featuring The E-Collective.
  • Sat 5/5 | 8PM. Quetzal with Mariachi Flor de Toloache.
  • Sat 5/12 | 8PM. An Evening with David Sedaris.

Note that some of the shows we may opt not to ticket, if the total gets too high, and we might decide to include some of the shows.

 

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Just before Christmas 2016, I attempted to predict what shows would be presented in the next Pantages and Ahmanson seasons. At the beginning of February, the Pantages made their announcement about their 2017-2018 season (or at least what is left of it after Hamilton presents), and I gave my thoughts on it and assessed my predictions. Today, the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) gave a rough announcement of their season (with more details in the Playbill version), so let’s see what I think and how I did.

☛ 🎱 ☚

Back in December, I summarized the shows that I thought were going on tour based on the announcements that I had seen, and I predicted the following:

There are numerous other shows currently coming to Broadway that I expect to tour, but I think they would be 2018-2019 at best. So how do I predict the seasons to work out? Here are my predictions:

  • Ahmanson 2017-2018 Season: Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, The Humans, Something Rotten, Waitress, and possibly the Fiddler revival, Allegiance, or a pre-Broadway musical.
  • Pantages 2017-2018 Season: Disney’s Aladdin, School of Rock, Love Never Dies, Bright Star, Matilda, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Color Purple, and possibly On Your Feet.

☛ 🎱 ☚

So how did I do? The Pantages announced a six show season. Five of the six were on my Pantages list, one was on my Ahmanson list: Aladdin, School of Rock, Love Never Dies, The Color Purple, On Your Feet, and Waitress. So lets see how I did for the Ahmanson, based on what the Times has as their announcement:

  • Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes. September 15 – October 1, 2017.  An American premiere. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale that was adapted into the 1948 film and best picture Oscar nominee of the same name, “The Red Shoes” will be Bourne’s ninth project to come to the Ahmanson. Not on my list at all. I’m not a big ballet fan, nor a fan of Matthew Bourne.
  • Bright Star. October 11–November 19, 2017.  The folksy Steve Martin and Edie Brickell musical. I predicted this for the Pantages, but it balances Waitress which I predicted for the Ahmanson. This is something I want to see.
  • Something Rotten! November 21–December 31, 2017. The witty, giddy backstage crowd-pleaser set in Shakespeare’s time earned 10 Tony nominations in 2015, including best musical. Predicted for the Ahmanson. This is something I want to see.
  • Soft Power. May 3–June 10, 2018. A world premiere David Henry Hwang that work takes the form of a Chinese musical about present-day America. Originally commissioned for the Mark Taper Forum. Jeanine Tesori will join the creative team for this production, which starts as a contemporary play and time-shifts into a musical 100 years in the future.  I predicted a pre-Broadway musical. This may be it. Unsure based on the subject, but Tesori’s involvement makes it interesting.
  • The Humans. June 19–July 29, 2018. Stephen Karam’s one-act that won four Tony Awards last year including best play. I correctly predicted this for the Ahmanson. Not sure yet if I want to see it.

One production will be announced later (obviously, in the January 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018 time period, although that period could easily support two shows — so why it is dark for so long is unknown and uncharacteristic of the Ahmanson. I am disappointed that the Ahmanson is not mounting Allegiance, but perhaps they are in negotiation for the TBA slot. Spring Awakening is less likely for that slot, given it was at the Wallis Annenberg just before Broadway.

 

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Today was a day for a number of season announcements. I thought I would share my thoughts on them with you.

The Hollywood Bowl

I’m not going to go through the entire list of the Bowl season. But I am going to mention the shows of possible interest to me:

Segerstrom Center, Costa Mesa

This theatre is a bit far for us to travel to and subscribe, but for those in Orange County, it looks like a great season:

Broadway Series

  • Something Rotten!” Nov. 7-19, 2017. Set in the late 1500s, two brother playwrights are trying to write a hit play but their rival, the rock star writer Shakespeare, keeps getting all the attention. Thus, the concept of a musical was born.
    🎩 This hasn’t been in LA yet; given the Pantages has announced their season, I expect this at the Ahmanson.
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein’sThe King and I,” Feb. 27-March 11, 2018: The Tony Award-winning musical presents some of Broadway’s greatest numbers, including “Getting to Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” and “Something Wonderful.”
    🎩 This played the Pantages in December 2016
  • Love Never Dies,” April 24 – May 5, 2018: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to the iconic “The Phantom of the Opera” tells the story of the Phantom and his new life in New York City.
    🎩 This is in the Pantages’ 2017-2018 Season, playing April 3-22, 2018
  • Hamilton,” May 8 – 27, 2018: Based on Ron Chernow’s biography of founding father Alexander Hamilton, the musical provides insight into the life of the West Indies immigrant who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. The hip-hop, jazz, and R&B score gives the musical a modern twist.
    🎩  This plays the Pantages from August 11 – December 30, 2017
  • School of Rock,” July 24 – Aug. 5, 2018: Featuring 14 songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the rock-and-roll musical tells the story of a wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher and creates a band of his own with the music prodigies in his class.
    🎩 This is in the Pantages 2017-2018 Season, playing May 3 – 27, 2018
  • On Your Feet,” Aug. 21 – Sept. 2, 2018: From Cuba to America, Gloria and Emilio Estefan broke through barriers in the pop music world with hits songs like “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Conga” and “Don’t Wanna Lose You Now.” The musical tells the story of the groundbreaking couple’s musical sensation journey.
    🎩 This is in the Pantages 2017-2018 Season, playing July 6 – 29, 2018

Curtain Call Series

  • Motown,” Dec. 19 – 24, 2017: The true American story about Motown founder Berry Gordy and his journey in the music world as he launched the careers of music sensations Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and more. The pop musical features hits like “My Girl,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Dancing in the Street.”
    🎩 This played the Pantages January 31 – February 12, 2017
  • Kinky Boots,” Feb. 6 – 11, 2018: The multi-Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of Charlie Price, the owner of a small shoe factory, who meets Lola, an extraordinary performer who introduces him to new, creative ideas in the world of fashion and shoes.
    🎩 This played the Pantages April 13 – 24, 2016
  • The Color Purple,” June 19 – 24, 2018: The Tony Award-winning musical presents a soul, jazz, ragtime and blues score to the story of a young woman’s journey in love and triumph in the American South.
    🎩 This is in the Pantages 2017-2018 Season, playing May 29 – June 17, 2018

Bonus events

  • Jersey Boys,” Jan. 19-21, 2018: The Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning musical about rock and roll hall of famers The Four Seasons and their rise in pop music history. The show presents hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
    🎩 This plays the Ahmanson May 16 – June 24, 2017
  • The Book of Mormon,” March 20-25, 2018: South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy tells the story about two mismatched missionaries sent across the seas to share their scriptures with a Ugandan village.
    🎩 This plays the Pantages May 30 – July 9, 2017

All in all, a very good season. More information is on the Segerstrom website.

Palo Alto/Mountain View TheatreWorks

For those up in the Bay Area, I just received the TheatreWorks Season Announcement:

  • The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga. Jul 12–Aug 6, 2017, Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto. Book, Music, & Lyrics by Min Kahng. Based on Manga Yonin Shosei by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama. Translated as The Four Immigrants by Frederik L. Schodt. Directed by Leslie Martinson. WORLD PREMIERE. From a tumultuous earthquake to an exhilarating world’s fair, this broadly comic new musical chronicles the adventures of four endearing Japanese immigrants in a world of possibility and prejudice: turn-of-the-twentieth-century San Francisco. Driven by an infectious vaudeville and ragtime score, the quartet pursues their American Dream despite limited options in the land of opportunity. Don’t miss this runaway hit of our 2016 New Works Festival.
    🎩 This sounds potentially interesting — if I was up there, I’d go see it.
  • Constellations. Aug 23–Sept 17, 2017, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. By Nick Payne. Directed by Robert Kelley. London Evening Standard Award Best Play 2012. REGIONAL PREMIERE. A time-bending romantic drama spun out of string theory, this unconventional Broadway and West End sensation explores the infinite possibilities of “boy meets girl” with intelligence, heart, and humor. A charming beekeeper and a Cambridge cosmologist are nerds in love, for better and for worse, their relationship an ever-changing mystery of “what ifs.” Who knew that honey and higher physics could be so touching—or so sexy?
    🎩 C’mon, string theory in a play. Sounds good.
  • The Prince of Egypt. Oct 6–Nov 5, 2017, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Philip LaZebnik. Directed by Scott Schwartz. WORLD PREMIERE in collaboration with Fredericia Teater, Denmark. A soaring celebration of the human spirit, The Prince of Egypt features a dazzling, multi-ethnic cast in one of the greatest stories ever told: the saga of Moses and Ramses, his Pharaoh brother, and the indomitable people who changed them both forever. Inspired by the beloved DreamWorks Animation film and featuring a score that includes the Academy Award-winning “When You Believe” by the composer and lyricist of Wicked, this breathtaking journey of faith and family is the must-see event of the season.
    🎩 A new Stephen Schwartz musical — could be good, although I’d be curious how he expanded the score.
  • Around the World in 80 Days. Nov 29–Dec 23, 2017, Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto. Adapted by Mark Brown. From the novel by Jules Verne. Directed by Robert Kelley. Stampeding elephants! Raging typhoons! Runaway trains! Join fearless adventurer Phileas Fogg and his faithful valet in the original “Great Race,” circling the globe in an 1870s alive with danger, romance, and comic surprises at every turn. In the hilariously theatrical style of The 39 Steps, five actors portray dozens of characters in a thrilling race against time and treachery. Grab your family, and your passport, for an ingenious, imaginative expedition around the world!
    🎩 This is an oldie, but should be good.
  • Our Great Tchaikovsky. Jan 10–Feb 4, 2018, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Music by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Written and Performed by Hershey Felder. Directed by Trevor Hay. REGIONAL PREMIERE. Brilliant composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky springs to life through the hands and insight of piano virtuoso Hershey Felder, whose time-bending tale of culture and repression explores the mystery surrounding some of the greatest music ever written. From the unforgettable ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker, to the outrageous 1812 Overture and the brilliant symphonic works, this powerful musical tribute travels to Czarist times to ponder the inevitable enigma of genius. From the creator and performer of Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin and Beethoven.
    🎩 Others might like this; I haven’t gotten into all the Hershey Felder shows.
  • Skeleton Crew. Mar 7–Apr 1, 2018, Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto. By Dominique Morisseau. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli. A Coproduction with Marin Theatre Company. CALIFORNIA PREMIERE. A makeshift family of autoworkers navigates the recession in this funny, tough, and tender American drama. Will their Detroit plant survive? Ambitious dreams and corporate deception interweave, pushing friendships to the limit. When the line between blue collar and white begins to blur, how far over the lines is each of them willing to step?
    🎩 Sounds somewhat interesting.
  • The Bridges of Madison County. Apr 4–29, 2018, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Book by Marsha Norman. Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller. Directed by Robert Kelley. 2014 Tony Award Best Score. REGIONAL PREMIERE. This sweeping musical romance about the roads we travel and the bridges we dare to cross recalls the unexpected affair of a devoted Italian-born housewife and a roving National Geographic photographer—four sensual, heart-stirring days that would never be forgotten. Set amidst the cornfields of Iowa in 1965, it is an intimate remembrance of love both lost and found, brilliantly adapted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Tony Award-winning composer from one of America’s favorite novels.
    🎩 I saw the tour of this when it was at the Ahmanson, and I was very surprised at how much I liked it. TheatreWorks should do a good job with it.
  • FINKS. Jun 6–Jul 1, 2018, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. By Joe Gilford. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Drama Desk Award Best Play Nominee. CALIFORNIA PREMIERE. With the 1950s Red Scare in full swing, the House Un-American Activities Committee attacks “subversion” in the arts. When a romance blossoms between a rising comic and a firebrand actress, they face being blacklisted along with their friends and fellow artists. Will they lose their careers or betray each other and be branded forever as “finks”? Based on the true story of comedian/actor Jack Gilford, this stunning comic drama is written by his son.
    🎩 The story of Jack Gilford — should be interesting.

The season sounds interesting enough that if I was in the area, I might subscribe. Subscription information is on the TheatreWorks website.

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Just before Christmas 2016, I attempted to predict what shows would be presented in the next Pantages and Ahmanson seasons. Today, the Pantages made the announcement about its 2018 season (or most of it; there were no shows announced after September 2018). Curious about how I did? Read on! Additionally, I’d like to share some thoughts on a season announcement for a great Northern California theatre.

☛ 🎱 ☚

Back in December, I summarized the shows that I thought were going on tour based on the announcements that I had seen, and I predicted the following:

There are numerous other shows currently coming to Broadway that I expect to tour, but I think they would be 2018-2019 at best. So how do I predict the seasons to work out? Here are my predictions:

  • Ahmanson 2017-2018 Season: Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, The Humans, Something Rotten, Waitress, and possibly the Fiddler revival, Allegiance, or a pre-Broadway musical.
  • Pantages 2017-2018 Season: Disney’s Aladdin, School of Rock, Love Never Dies, Bright Star, Matilda, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Color Purple, and possibly On Your Feet.

So how did I do? The Pantages announced a six show season. Five of the six were on my Pantages list, one was on my Ahmanson list. So I think I did pretty good. Here’s what was announced for the Pantages season. I’m sure they will have some fill-in shows to announce, but those might be more retreads:

  • Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical. January 10 – March 31, 2018. What is there to say? This is the upsized full-Broadway version. It is clearly a Pantages show that they expect to be a hit, given a 3 month run.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. April 3-22, 2018. This is the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which I wasn’t that crazy about. It has not played Broadway yet. I will admit I’m curious on this one, so I’ll give it a try. I was expecting they might program the long running tour of Phantom before this production, but they barely have time to do the load-out/load-in after Aladdin. They can’t even squeeze it in before Aladdin, as Hamilton ends on December 30, 2017, and Aladdin starts January 10.
  • School of Rock: The Musical. May 3 – 27, 2018. Currently on Broadway, and I enjoy the music quite a bit (and that is even with the knowledge that this is an Andrew Lloyd Webber show).
  • The Color Purple: The Musical. May 29 – June 17, 2018. This is the deconstructed and re-conceived revival that received such good reviews on Broadway; I haven’t listened to the album of this version yet. I’m looking forward to this.
  • On Your Feet: The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Musical. July 6 – 29, 2018. Surely to be a crowd-pleaser in Los Angeles. I’ve heard the music, and this should be good.
  • Waitress. August 2-26, 2018. This is the one show I had predicted for the Ahamanson instead, but I can see why the Pantages grabbed it — given it is the first musical by Sara Bareilles, it will bring in the kids. I’ve heard the music, and I’m looking forward to it.

A few additional notes: The Pantages has left very few holes for fill-in programming — really only the last week of April, and the latter half of June. There will be perhaps some pop-up concerts there, but a three-week run is unlikely. Expect them to add shows from September 2018 on, but that may be in their next season announcement. Regarding my predictions (which I’ll update), I think Bright Star might go to the Ahmanson. Matilda, Miss Saigon, and Les Miserables will likely wait for the 2018-2019 Pantages season instead — the first because it was already at the Ahmanson; the latter two because they are really more Pantages shows (plus Les Miz was already at the Ahmanson).

More details, and information on subscription packages, is here.

☛ 🎱 ☚

Back in 2014, we saw an excellent production of The Immigrant from Tabard Theatre Company (FB) in San Jose. A few weeks ago, I received their announcement of their 17th season, and all I can say is that if I lived in the area, it would be worthy of subscription. We may even drive up for one of the shows (Adrift in Macao), it’s that good. Here’s their season:

  • PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. September 15 – October 8, 2017. Written by Rick Elice. Music by Wayne Barker. Based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers”. Tony Award-winning play! Featuring a dozen actors portraying more than 100 engaging and unforgettable characters, through this play with music we learn how Peter Pan earned his flight credentials and how a mustachioed pirate became Captain Hook. — We saw the tour of this when it was at the Ahmanson, and it was great. This should be a smaller production, but this is a show well suited to that.
  • MOM’S GIFT. October 27 – November 19, 2017. Written by Phil Olson. Northern California Premiere! In this comedy with a heart, Mom has been dead for 11 months and shows up at her husband’s birthday party as a ghost with a mission. Like Clarence in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” she has to accomplish a task to earn her wings. Only what the task actually is, is a mystery. — We saw the world premiere of this at Group Rep, and it was excellent.
  • HOLIDAY AT THE SAVOY. December 1 – December 17, 2017 Created by Cathy Spielberger Cassetta & Gus Kambeitz. World Premiere! It’s December 1945, New York City — the first post-war holiday season at the famous Savoy ballroom in Harlem where singers, dancers, and musicians put on an exciting floor show filled with the swinging sounds and steps of the day in Savoy style. — I haven’t heard of this, but it sounds quite interesting with good music.
  • EVELYN IN PURGATORY. January 12 – January 28, 2018. Written by Topher Payne. West Coast Premiere! When a complaint is filed against one of the 70,000 teachers in New York’s public schools, they’re sent to a Reassignment Center. There, they sit and wait for their case to be reviewed. Based on real teacher “rubber rooms” in New York City, this surprising and engaging dramatic comedy follows five teachers one school year while they await their hearing. — Sounds like an interesting play. One of the reasons to subscribe to seasons is to see plays you might not normally go to on your own. This sounds like one of those.
  • THE MIRACLE WORKER. February 16 – March 11, 2018. Tony Award winner by William Gibson based on Helen Keller’s biography “The Story of My Life”. 20-year old Annie Sullivan embarked on a journey that would change the life of her charge, Helen Keller, who would, in turn, change the lives of others for generations. The Miracle Worker reveals the power of commitment and strength when the choice is made to reach beyond the understandable and tangible. — This is the play that made Patty Duke’s career. A classic. I haven’t see it in years, but it is a great story.
  • ADRIFT IN MACAO. April 13 – May 6, 2018. Book and Lyrics by Christopher Durang; Music by Peter Melnick. Bay Area Premiere! With a drop-dead funny book and shamefully silly lyrics and lethally catchy music, this fast-paced musical, set in 1952 Macao, China, lovingly parodies the Hollywood film noir classics of the 1940s and ’50s. — I have heard the music from this, and truly want to see the show. It hasn’t been done in LA, at least that I’m aware of. I may work a visit to the Bay Area in my schedule to go see this.

As I noted before, I’d subscribe for this season, it looks that good. They are just too far away for me. But perhaps not for you. Tabard is in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose. Tabard’s pricing for Early Bird tickets (until May 17, 2017) isn’t that bad: between $69 for students to $205 for their “caberet” seating; $159 is the basic adult ticket, meaning about $26.50 a ticket. Subscription information is here.

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Observation StewIt’s the last day of the year. That means it is time to clean out the accumulated News Chum links, so I can  start 2017 fresh. It’s been a busy week, what with cleaning out the highway headlines and getting the California Highways website updated. But I’ve caught up on the RSS links (again, I highly recommend newsblur, which I switched to when Google Reader died), and I’ve got a full set of hopefully interesting articles ready to go:

  • Livejournal Moves its Servers to Russia. The Russians haven’t only interfered in the US elections and been sanctioned for it (more on that in my second post for today). Long ago, the Russian entity SUP purchased Livejournal from SixApart. In fact, supposedly the Russian word for blog is Livejournal. But the servers for the American Livejournal have long been on American soil, under American rules. Not any more: Livejournal has moved their servers to Russia, and already Russia is interfering with free speech. I’ve been with Livejournal since I started blogging back in 2004; I’ve got a permanent account there. I’ve been there through the original ownership, the days of SixApart and Vox Media, and the SUP ownership. About 4-5 years ago, I got fed up with their DDOS attacks and moved my blog over to WordPress, self-hosted on cahighways.org. I also created a Dreamwidth account with the same username as LJ (cahwyguy), and set things up so my posts auto-crosspost to Dreamwidth, and thence to LJ. I also imported all my posts from LJ to this blog, although some were protected and comments didn’t come through. Most of the friends I’ve had from LJ days have been refriended on Facebook. Long story short (TL;DR): LJ is now my tertiary site; I still read and comment there, but main posts are here. Those still reading this there are welcome to friend me over on Dreamwidth (user: cahwyguy) or on Facebook (again, user cahwyguy).
  • Fiddler on the Roof Announces Tour. Continuing the trend of starting with some updates, about a week ago I did some predictions about the upcoming touring season of Broadway shows. Since I wrote that, Fiddler has confirmed their tour. I predicted that Fiddler would go to the Ahmanson; as the Pantages shared the news from Playbill, it could end up there. I’m interested in this tour primarily because this version’s Motel, Adam Kantor, did Yiddishkeyt with my daughter.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas. As we’re on the penultimate day of Chanukah, and still within the 12 days of Christmas (and we still have annoying Christmas car commercials on TV), this article is still of interest: The story behind the most annoying Christmas Carol: The 12 Days of Christmas. For someone who doesn’t like Christmas Carols (for the record, my favorite is still Peter Paul and Mary’s Christmas Dinner), I found the background fascinating.
  • Solar Power – It’s Everywhere. Another thing currently on my mind is solar power, as we’re about to embark on a re-roofing and solar installation here (a consequence of extremely high DWP bills ($1500 and $1200 from July/August and September/October) and wanting to get it done before Trump guts everything). So this article about how Solar Power is getting cheaper caught my eye. To my eye, solar is now a no-brainer even if you don’t believe in climate change: it helps us get off of imported oil, and ensures our domestic reserves will be there in the future when we need them (as there is no dispute that petroleum is a limited resource). More importantly, cutting edge solar is now cheaper than Natural Gas, as least for large power producers. Alas, home solar has not gotten significantly cheaper, although presumably it will pay out in utility savings (especially in the hot San Fernando Valley).
  • Historical Notes. Two articles related to history caught my eye. The first has to do with Air Force Space Command, and particularly a new website that captures that history. I know one of the folks on that website, Warren Pearce; he seems to view me as a “greybeard” in relation to AFSPC (although I’m more of a CBG – Chubby Bearded Guy). I’m not really a greybeard in the true sense (although my first task when I got to my current employer was doing the security certification of then Lt. Pearce’s facility in the Springs — which I still remember because our finding was the lack of plastic sheeting in case the sprinklers went off), although I know quite a few from my SDC days. The second looks at the history of the Shopping Mall, and how the designer came to regret it. The mall — in its original sense of a square building, with the stores turned inwards surrounded by parking and a non-descript exterior — is dying, to be replaced by urban streetscapes such as the Rick Caruso specials or Big Box stores that harken back to the shopping main streets of old. What’s old is new again. Speaking of that, remember the site in Carson that was going to be the home of the LA Raiders. It’s becoming a shopping outlet mall.
  • Annoying Things. Here’s another pair of interest, dealing with annoying things. The first article looks at those annoying notifications of “Facebook Live” events from your friends — and provides information on how to turn them off. The second is more significant, and worth saving as a reference: what to do if you are hit by ransomware. Of course, the first thing to do is make sure you have backups, not network connected, to save your ass. The page, however, provides information on how you might be able to decrypt your disk, and not pay the ransom. Related to that is a third potentially useful link: How to use the Microsoft System File Checker to restore potentially corrupted system files.
  •  Food News. Two food related items. The first has to do with a Russian-Armenian restaurant in North Hills that sounds interesting enough to try. The second deals with the death of yet another deli: Carnegie Deli in NYC has served its last Pastrami Sandwich, although an outpost remains in Las Vegas.  I’ll also note that Cables Coffee Shop in Woodland Hills has Closed.
  • Android Phone Information. Did you get a new phone for the holidays? Is it Android? If so, here are two articles for you. The first talks about what you should do to get rid of your old Android phone. The second talks about how to transfer stuff to your new Android phone.
  • Supersonic Flight Possibly Returning. We’re getting near the end, folks. Here’s an interesting article on why we lost commercial supersonic flight, and the way it may return. The answer is: It may not be for everyone, and it will remain very expensive.
  • The Specialist. Lastly, one of the podcasts I listen to is “The Specialist”, which talks about odd jobs. Here’s one for the specialist: the guy who replaces the light bulbs in the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. I’m sure he didn’t go to college with that career in mind.

And with that, we’ve cleaned out the 2016 News Chum. I’m planning one more political post to close out the year, and then it is on to 2017. May your new year be a good one, filled with fewer deaths of people close to you or celebrities you care about, and may all your news chum stews be filled with tasty morsels of delight, as opposed to pieces of sinew (as we got with the 2016 election, but that’s the next post).

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In my most recent theatre review, I wrote:

We recently received a note from the Pantages that said: “You know you are going to renew, why not make it easy and let us do the work for you? Sign up now for our annual, hassle-free season ticket auto-renew program by paying $100 DOWN TODAY and never worry about renewal deadlines again! Signing up to auto-renew automatically put you FIRST in line for Season Seat Upgrades.” The problem with this is that they haven’t announced the 2017-2018 season yet. So what might it be?

I’ve continued to think about this. I did some Googling around for tour announcements, and looked at some booking office websites (Broadway Booking Office, Troika, The Booking Group). Here are my thoughts/predictions of potential touring shows that might hit Los Angeles that we haven’t seen before or might be interested in, together with where they might end up. I’m not bothering to list the stuff that constantly shows up (i.e., Wicked):
[ETA: 🎫 = Tour Confirmed, and I’ve seen at least one Broadway-tour venue book the show; ✔ is playing in Los Angeles in 2017 or 2018]

  • ✔ Aladdin – The Musical. 🎫 A national tour has been announced. I expect this will be at the Pantages, and may be one of the longer-run shows.
  • Allegiance. This closed on Broadway, and there are mixed reports on a tour: the FAQ on the website says “no”; the trades say “yes”. If a tour materializes, this will be at the Ahmanson.
  • Anastasia. This rework of the animated musical by the original team hasn’t yet opened on Broadway. It opens in April 2017, and there is no tour announcement. I expect it to eventually tour, and it is a tossup whether it ends up at the Ahmanson or the Pantages.
  • A Bronx Tale – The Musical. The musical just opened on Broadway in December 2016. I haven’t seen an announcement of a National Tour.
  • ✔ Bright Star. 🎫 M/L: Steve Martin, Edie Brickell. A tour was announced in December 2016, starting in Salt Lake City in 2018. This is a show I’d like to see. This one is likely for the Pantages, but could be Ahmanson-fodder. [ETA: A tour of this was announced 1/23/2017 for launch in 2017-2018]
  • ✔ The Color Purple.  🎫 The revival has closed on Broadway, with a National Tour set for Fall 2017. The original was at the Ahmanson, and the revival will likely be at the Pantages. I’d go to see it.
  • Come From Away – The Musical. This musical opens on Broadway in February of 2017. I see no tour announcement.
  • Dear Even Hansen. This just opened on Broadway; it has gotten good reviews. No tour announcement, although I’d expect one. Likely 2018, and this would be an Ahmanson show if it materializes.
  • Escape to Margaritaville. 🎫 This appears to be on tour on its way to Broadway. If it hits LA, likely Pantages.
  • Falsettos. William Finn. This revival recently opened on Broadway. No tour announcement yet. My guess would be 2019, if it happens.
  • Fiddler on the Roof. 🎫 The Danny Burstein revival is currently on Broadway, closing 12/31/16.  I haven’t seen an announcement that this version will go on tour. [ETA: The tour has now been announced for 2018]
  • Groundhog Day – The Musical. This London transfer is supposedly opening on Broadway in 2017. No tour announcement that I see. Not that interesting to me at this point.
  • ✔ The Humans. 🎫 This is one of those rare plays that is having a national tour. This will be at the Ahmanson; they like to book the occasional play.
  • Les Miserables. 🎫 The 25th Anniversary Production closed in September 2016, and a tour has been announced for 2017. If it happens, this will show up at the Pantages, for it a clear draw for that audience. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t give away the tickets if it was part a subscription.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Musical.  Sigh. Yes, this is a real thing. No, I haven’t heard the music. I don’t believe it has played Broadway; it is an import from the West End (like The Bodyguard). The show ended in London in 2008, and a “World Tour” was announced for 2015. Although it is on the booker’s website, there have been no further announcements. Not well reviewed, over 3 hours. I’m not sure this will hit Los Angeles if the tour materializes; if it does, it will materialize at the Pantages. Likely a “meh” for subscriptions.
  • ✔ Love Never Dies. 🎫 The Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel to Phantom. A 2017 tour of North America has been announced. This is something the Pantages would book, given their success with Phantom.
  • Matilda. 🎫 I saw this with the first National tour at the Ahmanson. A 2017 National Tour has been announced. This repeat could appear at the Pantages.
  • Miss Saigon. 🎫 This will be coming back to Broadway in 2017. A National Tour starts in Providence RI in Fall 2018. This has the feel of a Pantages show, although I could see this at the Ahmanson in a 2018 or 2019 season.
  • ✔ On Your Feet. 🎫 The Gloria Estefan musical. Currently on Broadway. No tour announcement that I see, although I could easily see this on tour and being successful in Los Angeles. Has the feel of a Pantages show.
  • Phantom of the Opera. 🎫 A perennial on the tour market. There is a US Tour, booked into 2017. I could see this reappear at the Pantages, although I’m not that interested in it.
  • ✔ School of Rock. 🎫 ALW”s new musical has announced a national tour. I’d like to see this one. My gut says 75% chance of the Pantages; 25% Ahmanson.
  • ✔ Something Rotten. 🎫 Closes on Broadway, and tour dates have been announced. Furthest west so far is Austin. I expect this to hit LA. Gut says 75% Ahmanson, 25% Pantages.
  • Deaf West’s Spring Awakening. 🎫 A national tour has been announced, and CTG has expressed interest. Given the relationship between CTG and Deaf West, this will be an Ahmanson show.
  • Tuck Everlasting. Oh, I wish. Closed on Broadway after a very short run. No announcement of a tour, but licensed and available. I’d expect a production to show up at MTI or something like that.
  • ✔ Waitress. 🎫 A national tour was announced in April. I expect this in LA, and I’m going to predict the Ahmanson.
  • The Who’s Tommy. The show is available for booking, although I don’t really see signs of a current major or forthcoming tour.

There are numerous other shows currently coming to Broadway that I expect to tour, but I think they would be 2018-2019 at best. So how do I predict the seasons to work out? Here are my predictions:

  • Ahmanson 2017-2018 Season: ❎ Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, ☑ The Humans, ☑ Something Rotten,  ✅ Waitress (went to the Pantages), and possibly the ❎ Fiddler revival, ❎ Allegiance, or a ☑ pre-Broadway musical.
  • Pantages 2017-2018 Season: ☑ Disney’s Aladdin, ☑ School of Rock, ☑Love Never Dies, ✅ Bright Star (went to the Ahmanson), ❎ Matilda, ❎ Miss Saigon, ❎ Les Miserables, ☑ Color Purple, and possibly ☑ On Your Feet.

There may also be some pointless retreads in there, such as Phantom, Lion King, or Momma Mia.

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userpic=fringeTicketing for the Hollywood Fringe Festival opens Sunday morning. Here are the shows that I’m currently planning to see, if they don’t break the budget. There are additional shows of interest that we couldn’t fit into the schedule. Note: This is just a paste of my favorites from the Fringe Website.

  • 30JJ OR BUST: THE WORLD IS MY UNDERWIRE. It’s surprisingly what comes up when you’re living as a 30-double-J in a 34-C world.
  • ALIEN VS. MUSICAL. What happens when the world of musical theatre meets the most terrifying alien in cinema history? The award winning ALIEN VS. MUSICAL returns for 2016 and it’s bigger and better than ever!
  • ALL ABOARD THE MARRIAGE HEARSE. Sean and Amy are a typical co-habitating, Catholic/Jewish couple who love each other and share common goals…sort of. Now, after four years, Amy wants to get married but Sean does not believe in the institution. The game is on! Don’t miss this acclaimed, international hit romantic comedy!
  • ALL THE BEST KILLERS ARE LIBRARIANS. In this action-packed comedy, Lauren Van Kurin (“King of Kong: A Musical Parody”) stars as a shy librarian recruited into the thrilling world of professional assassinations, international intrigue, and forbidden romance. **WINNER** Season Ten of “Serial Killers” at Sacred Fools Theater
  • CODE:197 DWB (DRIVING WHILE BLEWISH). Benny Lee Harris Lumpkins Jr, a.k.a. Ben-El David, a.k.a Benny Weinberg, or is it Benny Lee Harris Weinberg-Lumpkins, whatever, he is Blewish, a.k.a. Black and Jewish. Oy Vey! Sababa? Why Judaism? These questions are answered and more at the only Oneg at hff16. Special appearance by Diversidad.
  • EINSTEIN! Einstein comes back from the beyond. Upset with the way his image has been cheapened, he tells us the remarkable– sometimes harrowing, story behind relativity and his struggles as a father. Told through humor and heart, Jack Fry breathes life into one of the most intriguing icons of all time.
  • HAMLET . Shakespeare’s Hamlet cut and adapted for modern audiences. Set in the 1940s in a struggling Las Vegas with the mob as the Royal Family.
  • LAMPREY: WEEKEND OF VENGEANCE. Lamprey is having trouble with her husband at home, her partner was just murdered, Internal Affairs is riding her ass, and a homicidal killer is gunning for her. This might just be the best day of her life! The Lamprey premiered at Serial Killers at Sacred Fools.
  • MY BIG FAT BLONDE MUSICAL. It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings. My Big Fat Blonde Musical follows Terri as she fights her insecurities and learns to measure her worth by talent rather than the size of her pants.
  • MARK TWAIN ANSWERS ALL YOUR QUESTIONS. Fresh off his award-winning performance at last year’s Poe Show,* Mr. Mark Twain is back with his one man show! This June at the new Sacred Fools space, Mr. Mark Twain will be shooting out the lights with stories, observations, and general nonsense (with extra nonsense on the side). If he fools around long enough, he may even say something worth repeating.
  • SQUEEZE MY CANS. The Church of Scientology had actress Cathy Schenkelberg for 14 years; 5 years after leaving them behind, she has the courage to tell us all about it. This hilarious and horrifying story unfolds under the direction of Shirley Anderson.
  • SWEET LOVE ADIEU. Romeo and Juliet meets Monty Python in this hilarious comedy of errors from multiple award-winning British verse playwright phenomenon, Ryan J-W Smith. Winner – The International Award – Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015. “The Bard Mark II – Genius!” – BBC. “A damned good romp” – British Theatre Guide
  • TELL ME ON A SUNDAY. Directed by the award winning Calvin Remsberg and starring Shannon Nelson (“Drop Dead Gorgeous” and “Absolutely Filthy”), Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s classic one-woman musical that charts the course of an English hat designer’s romantic misadventures from NYC to LA and back again.
  • THE OLD WOMAN. The true life story of his mother’s heartbreaking journey into dementia, confronting the inevitable truth of aging, and coming to terms with his own mortality. A beautifully moving story peppered with moments of absolute joy and humor. “★★★★!” – CBC “Masterful storyteller” – WFP
  • THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL. HFF FIRST FOR THIS OFF-BROADWAY HIT! A light-hearted rock musical chemical spill. Good versus evil, love versus murder, nuclear waste versus New Jersey. Based on **that** infamous B Movie, TOXIE is factory-run-off fun, but a bit risqué. (13 and up, please.)
  • TITUS ANDRONICUS JR.. Murder…Cannibalism…Kids! Shakespeare’s bloodiest play performed by a cast of middle school students under the direction of a teacher suffering a nervous breakdown… What could go wrong?

Some shows that we considered, but couldn’t fit in, included A Little Hamlet, Who Are You Anyway, Doctor in the House, Vintage Box, Charming, The Human Test Subjects, Suckin Injun, Still Got It, The Story of Dick the Pussycat, My Manana Comes, Quaddafi’s Cook—Living in Hell, Cooking for the Devil, and many others. Go to the website and click on shows: there are over 274 to choose from.

Tickets go on sale May 01, 2016

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userpic=theatre2If you’ve been reading my theatre posts for the last few weeks, you’ve seen the following line: “The fourth weekend in April is Pesach, but the Indie Chi Productions dark comedy Dinner at Home Between Deaths at the Odyssey Theatre (FB) sounded so interesting I’ve booked Sunday tickets.”

It did sound interesting. I made the selection based on a press release before it opened. As it has been running, however, I’ve been seeing its rating over on Bitter Lemons:  It is currently at the end of the ratings, with a score of 48% bitter. Quotes from the reviews include “a bit undercooked; with lighting cues missed, the stumbling over lines, and an integral plot incident causing unintentional laughter.”, “a sitcom whose humor is eccentric and contrived rather than savage and true”, “falls frustratingly short of both suspense and laughs, teeter-tottering between naturalism and farce. Stuart Ross’ direction so misunderstands the nature of the immature text that the actors are left “dead in the water.””, and “And then there are the plays that are really bad. Poorly conceived, badly written, terribly miscast, and excruciatingly directed. Such a play is “Dinner at Home Between Deaths”, now having its world premiere as a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. There is one good thing about this play, though: it’s only 90 minutes long” (although I must note some reviewers liked it).

One advantage of being a professional audience, as opposed to a professional critic, is that I pick the shows I see. Further, since I pay for shows, I can decide where to spend my money (note: even when I coordinate with a publicist, I pay at least Goldstar prices for my tickets). Further, when I book through Goldstar, I have the Red Velvet advantage: I can cancel a ticket. When I get a heads up about a potential train wreck, I’d rather go see something with a better chance of success. But what to see? My basic constraint was that it had to be Sunday, as Saturday is the first day of Pesach, and if we were going to a second seder, it would be Saturday night. That cut out some of the top rated shows on Bitter Lemons: “Waiting for Johnny Depp“, “Baby Oh Baby“. Others, such as “Cloud 9” weren’t on Goldstar, or (in the case of “You Never Can Tell“) were, but were too expensive.  I looked through the shows that had tickets for Sunday, and tentatively decided on “Anton in Show Business“, which was on Goldstar and had the following description:

When you’re a well-known TV star looking to increase your theatrical street cred, what do you do? Sign on to play a role in a small Texas repertory theater’s production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Go behind the scenes with three actresses — a jaded stage veteran, an eager Southern belle and Holly, the wildly popular TV star — in Anton in Show Business. Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Jane Martin won the American Theater Critics Association New Play Award for this raucous comedy. Now Nell Teare directs this all-female cast of Anton in Show Business at Hollywood’s Hudson Mainstage Theatre.

I had seen the press release on the show and it was of interest, but I couldn’t work it into the schedule.

Now, the other day, my wife had met a writer and an actress while having lunch somewhere, and they had mentioned they had a musical opening at the Met Theatre in Hollywood (which is the new home of Rogue Machine, having previously been home to DOMA, but this was neither a RMT or DOMA show). We googled the writer and the actress, but there was no mention of the show. My wife emailed him, and found out the show was “Psychosexual – A New Musical“, which had tickets on Brown Paper Tickets.  The description of the show was:

Marriage Counselors and Best-Selling Authors, Doctors Brad & Sarah Morton, are on the verge of getting their own big-time Television Show, produced by celebrated Media Mogul and Talk Show Host, Omeika Carter. Unfortunately (and unbeknownst to Omeika) Brad and Sarah’s own relationship is on the rocks.  Seeking solace, Brad has started to frequent Floyd’s Fabulous Fantasy Club, where exotic dancer, Leah Lane, has caught his attention.   With Club Owner Floyd Ryder seeking to take advantage of every situation, and fellow dancer, the sensual Kayla Sizzle, also looking for love, “PSCHOSEXUAL: A LOVE STORY” will both make you laugh and warm your heart.

Potentially interesting, but something was raising red flags. This show was opening in two days. There had been no press release. It wasn’t on Goldstar. It wasn’t on LA Stage Tix. It wasn’t on Plays411.net. It wasn’t on Footlights. The actress playing the lead wasn’t promoting it. It wasn’t being publicized anywhere that normal shows are being publicized. That was odd. That says “vanity production”. Sensing something, I investigated the writer more. He has written mostly for the animated TV screen (think “Cartoon Network”), and has had one other musical, “Campaign”, done with the same composer at this show.  I found a review of that show at the LA Times:

Mounting a full-blown original musical takes plenty of guts. In that regard, the creators of “Campaign,” a world premiere at the MET, deserve kudos for sheer ambition.  They also deserve a few discreetly hurled brickbats for the general clunkiness of their production, which fails to coalesce into a cohesive professional effort. A chief obstacle is the uninspired book by Samuel Warren Joseph, who also wrote the music and lyrics with Jon Detherage, the show’s musical director. […] But despite a few laughs along the way, the show seems stale, with retro musical numbers that sound like they’re being channeled from the 1950s.

Reading this, I was unsure whether I wanted to move from a known train wreck to an unknown train wreck. Better to see how the reviews for this show shake out before seeing it. On the other hand, although the production of Anton only has one review so far (it just opened), that review was extremely positive, the playwright won an award from the show, and past productions of the show have gotten very positive reviews — so at least there is a good chance of a decent book. The show is also publicized in the usual places.

Guess which show I’m switching to? Now you see the thought process that goes into selecting a show. Remember: This is the era of the Internet. People will research.

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userpic=theatre2Well, the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and The Geffen Playhouse (FB) just announced their upcoming seasons, so it is time for another “Thoughts on a Theatre Season“…

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

The Ahmanson Theatre

Back in January, when Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the Pantages (FB) announced their seasons (and after a moment of silence for Cabrillo), I wrote:

Other Tour Musings: Aladdin: The Musical just announced their national tour, starting in Chicago April-July 2017. Those dates mean it can’t go into the Pantages until at least 2018, and this is show that I’d expect to go into the Pantages. So it may show up at the Ahmanson in the Fall of 2017 (they haven’t announced their season yet), or (more likely) it will be in the Winter or Spring of 2018 at the Pantages. It also sounds like there is a tour of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  It is part of the 2016-2017 SHN San Francisco season, so my guess is that it will be a fall show at the Ahmanson, because (a) it is unlikely they would delay it until 2018, and (b) they rarely, if ever, book plays into the Pantages. Fun Home and Something Rotten have also announced tours; Fun Home starts in late 2016; Rotten in 2017. Given the Pantages schedule, I’m expecting both to show up at the Ahmanson. School of Rock: The Musical has also announced a tour; although that’s a show that would fit the Pantages audience better, the long sitdown at the Pantages means it will likely be an Ahmanson show. Gee. I’ve just figured out the Ahmanson season :-).

The Ahmanson just announced their season, and I ended up being 2 out of 6. Here are my thoughts:

  • Thumbs Down Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge. Sep 7 – Oct 16, 2016. This is the Young Vic production, but it doesn’t really excite me.
  • Thumbs Up Amalie: A New Musical. Dec 6, 2016 – Jan 15, 2017. This premiered last fall under the direction of Pam McKinnon at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I liked the movie, so this intrigues me.
  • Thumbs Up Fun HomeFeb 21 – Apr 1, 2017.Tony-winning. Need I say more?
  • Thumbs Down Into the Woods. Apr 4 – May 14, 2017. This is the Fiasco 10-actor version, but I’ve seen the original and I’ve seen it in 99 seat. Why see it again?
  • Thumbs Down Jersey Boys. May 16 – Jun 24, 2017. Been there. Saw it.
  • Thumbs Up Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  Aug 2 – Sep 10, 2017. Oh yes.

This still leaves the question of where Aladdin and School of Rock will end up: I’m guessing the Pantages after Hamilton; similarly, Something Rotten may also end up at the Pantages depending on timing, or the next season at the Ahmanson.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

The Geffen

The Geffen in Westwood has also announced their season. My thoughts:

  • Thumbs Down Barbecue. Sept. 6 to Oct. 16, 2016. Seen last year at the Public Theater in New York. O’Hara’s comedy follows two families — one white, one black — as they bicker and brawl amongst themselves at separate gatherings in a public park.
  • Thumbs Down Margulies’ The Model Apartment. Oct. 11 to Nov. 20, 2016. This debuted in 1995 and tells the story of a retired couple living in a condo.
  • Thumbs Down Icebergs. Nov. 8 to Dec. 18, 2016. This takes place in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, following four friends negotiating professional and personal challenges. World premier of a Alena Smith play.
  • Thumbs Down Benjamin Scheuer’s solo show The Lion. Jan. 4 to Feb. 19.
  • Thumbs Down Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride. April 4, 2017, to May 14, 2017.
  • thumbs-side Payne’s Constellations. June 6, 2017 to July 16, 2017. The elusive story involves a man and a woman, bound together by advanced physics.

Plus two productions to be announced later. Only one show piques my interest, which is about par for the course at the Geffen.

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Cabrillo Userpicuserpic=colonyuserpic=repeastI’m three for three.

All three of the theaters at which I subscribed at the end of 2015 have gone dark or belly up.

  • REP just went silent; there have been no newsletters or messages to subscribers since December. A 2016 season was never announced. An old message on the grapevine said they might be back in August. We’ll see.
  • The Colony Theatre announced they were cancelling the last two shows of their seasons, and there was no prognosis for the future. One could “donate” the remainder of the tickets for a tax write-off, or wait to see if something emerges. No offers of refunds. At least the Colony had the decency to tell subscribers before the media.
  • Cabrillo Music Theatre announced today that they were closing up shop at the Civic Arts Plaza at the end of this season. The next season was cancelled, and the future is unknown. The TO Civic Arts Plaza will be refunding subscriptions and donations. They informed the media and Facebook before they sent the mail to subscribers.

First, someone better warn the Pantages — we just subscribed there. It also makes me think twice about subscribing at the Pasadena Playhouse: it looks like companies that have come out of financial problems remain shaky and unsteady. and Pasadena is only a few years out.

So here’s my question: We traditionally have had three subscriptions: one intimate, one mid-size, and one large. Arguably, the large is now the Pantages. So where should we consider for the intimate and the mid-size? I’ve got my ideas, but I’d like to hear your suggestions.

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userpic=theatre2Some weeks the news chum doesn’t theme, and you get stew at the end of the week. Other weeks, you get a multicourse tasty meal. This week is the latter. For our first course, some theatre news:

🎭 Pasadena Playhouse 2016-2017 Season 🎭

The Pasadena Playhouse (FB) has just announced their 2016-2017 season, and it looks quite interesting. In fact, with The Colony Theatre (FB) going dark, we might just switch back to the Playhouse (if they can do a decent payment plan). Let’s look it over together, shall we?

  • Thumbs Up The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, directed by Seema Sueko. Sept. 6, 2016 to Oct. 2, 2016. I’ve seen two productions of The Fantasticks: a great Theatre West (FB) production and an even better Good People Theatre (FB) production. This is a very touching show which I’m growing to love. It should be interesting to see what the Playhouse can do with it.
  • Thumbs Up M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, directed by Bart DeLorenzo. Oct. 25, 2016 to Nov. 20, 2016. Winner of multiple Tony Awards including “Best Play” in 1988 and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “M. Butterfly” is David Henry Hwang’s fictionalized account of an actual French diplomat who carried on an affair with a Peking opera star for twenty years, only to discover she was actually a man. I remember when this won the Tony and missed seeing it when it was at the Ahmanson.
  • Thumbs Up Shout, Sister, Shout! conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, book by Cheryl West. Jan. 31, 2017 to Feb. 26, 2017. A World Premiere musical conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, the creator of A Night With Janis Joplin. The musical depicts the life and music of legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose hits include “Down by the Riverside,” “This Train,” and “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” Given the style of music, this could be very interesting.
  • Thumbs Up Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. March 28, 2017 to April 23, 2017. No director stated. The press release states “a great way to return to the tradition of the Bard on our stage as The Pasadena Playhouse enters its 100th year.” One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “Twelfth Night” features mistaken identities, gender confusion and separated twins, all obstacles to be overcome on the quest for true love. If they don’t muck with it, this could be good.
  • thumbs-side ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. May 30, 2017– June 25, 2017. Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse, is on the hunt for the show he will direct for the last production of his final season as Artistic Director. Could be good, could be …

I’m not bothering to list the Pantos — I don’t care about those. I’ll explore subscribing when we’re there later in March.

🎭 New Jersey at the Fringe 🎭

The good folks at Good People Theatre (FB) have announced their Fringe musical:

We have exciting news! GPTCo is teaming up with Producer Alejandro Patino to bring you The Toxic Avenger Musical this June at Fringe! We will be at The Sacred Fools Space on Lillian Way. More info to come!

Posted by Good People Theater Company on Thursday, March 3, 2016

I’ve heard the music from this, and it is great. Should be a hoot, and I’m looking forward to it.

🎭 Yiddish Theatre in LA 🎭

Inside LA Stage History has a wonderful article up on the history of Yiddish Theatre and cabaret in LA. This includes the fact that the New Beverly theatre on Beverly Blvd (now owned by Quentin Tarentino) used to be a Yiddish Theatre, and is credited with the LA debut of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, as well as Phil Silvers, who worked there as an emcee.

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userpic=theatre_musicalsYesterday, I received in the mail my season renewal for Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); today’s news brought an update on the upcoming season at the Pantages (FB). So I thought I would share with you (over lunch) my thoughts on these announcements, together with my thoughts on an announcement we haven’t received from one of our regular theatres.

*🎭🎭🎭*

Cabrillo Music Theatre

Cabrillo UserpicCabrillo Music Theatre (FB) has sent season subscribers their renewal information for the 2016-2017 season — these is even before the 2nd show of the 2015-2016 season (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, opening Friday 1/29) is on the boards. If you recall, we skipped the 2014-2015 season because we had seen all of the shows; we rejoined back in 2015 because the shows sounded interesting again. Here is the set of shows for 2016-2017, with my thoughts on them. Note that the show in the Kavli has moved from being optional to part of the season.

 

  • Thumbs Up Evita. (October 14-23, 2016) We last saw Evita in a community theatre production while we were in Maui. While it was pretty good, it wasn’t at the professional level. The Evita before that was at Van Nuys HS. I saw the original tour when it was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City ages and ages ago. I actually enjoy the show if it is done right, so it will be interesting to see Cabrillo’s take on it.
  • Thumbs Up Disney’s Tarzan. (January 27 – February 12, 2017, Kavli Theatre) This was on Broadway briefly, but it otherwise hasn’t been in the LA area. I’m not even sure I’ve heard the music or seen a cast album of the stage version of it. It should be interesting to see how this works for Cabrillo.
  • Thumbs Up Sister Act. (April 21-30, 2017) We last saw Sister Act when it was at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) in its pre-Broadway run in 2006. We liked it then; it will be interesting to see how it has changed. So, why didn’t we see it when the tour came to the Pantages? Simple: It’s good, but it wasn’t worth Pantages prices that close to the Playhouse run. Time — and lower prices — bring it back into the “going” camp.
  • Thumbs Up Peter Pan. (July 14-23, 2017) According to the Cabrillo mailer, the theatrical rights have been tied up for a long time. I certainly haven’t seen it on stage in ages (if ever); Cathy Rigby used to do it regularly  at La Mirada, but it’s got to be at least a decade or two since it has been there. I’ve seen dramatic variations; I’ve seen prequels; and of course I’ve seen live stage productions on TV.  It will be interesting to see it on the Cabrillo stage, and I’m curious whether they are going to take the changes made for the TV production — additional songs, reworking of the Native American involvement — and move them back into the stage book.

So am I going to renew? I think so. The shows look interesting. The price is right (about $150 for Saturday evening Mezzanine, per person, for four shows)… plus they now allow you to split it over two payments!

*🎭🎭🎭*

Pantages Theatre

userpic=broadwaylaWhat truly prompted this lunchtime post, however, was the announcement that, as part of the Pantages (FB) 2016-2017 season, Hamilton was coming to Los Angeles. When the Hamilton tour was first announced, I wondered where it would sit down. The Ahmanson Theatre (FB), although having great seats, won’t host a show for that long of a period. As for the Pantages (FB), I didn’t think they would want to tie up the theatre for the long engagement Hamilton would need. I truly expected it would inaugurate one of the old movie palaces on Broadway. I was wrong.  It is doing a five month engagement at the Pantages. Here are my thoughts on Hamilton, plus the rest of the announced schedule:

  • Thumbs Up Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (November 1-27, 2016). I’ve heard the music to Hedwig, and I’ve grown to really like it. I wonder who they will get for the lead, and whether it will be a tour lead, or they will do a special lead for the Los Angeles engagement.
  • thumbs-side The King and I. (December 13, 2016 – January 21, 2017). I’ve heard the music to the recent revival of The King and I, and I like it more than other revivals. However, this is still my least favorite R&H show. I tend to find it slow and overdone. I’ll need to think about this one.
  • Thumbs Up Finding Neverland. (February 21 – March 12, 2017). Ah, Peter, my friend. Back so soon. I’ve heard the music to this and like it quite a bit. It will be really interesting to see it in the same season that Cabrillo is doing their Peter Pan.
  • Thumbs Up An American in Paris. (March 22 – April 9, 2017). Again, I’ve heard the music, and the wonderful Gershwin melodies. The story, at least as was in the movies, is weak. But I recall reading that the adaption made some interesting choices in the setting to make this work again. Plus, of course, there is the fabulous dancing.
  • Thumbs Down The Bodyguard. (May 2-21, 2017). An adaptation of a Whitney Houston movie, starring Deborah Cox. It hasn’t been on Broadway to my knowledge; this is a tour from London’s West End. Book is by Alexander Dinelaris based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasden. There are no credits for music or lyrics, so this is a jukeboxer. I was more interested in Ghost than I would be in this.
  • Thumbs Down The Book of Mormon (May 30 – July 9, 2017). Not interested. I saw this at the Pantages during the first National tour.
  • Thumbs Up Hamilton. (August 11 – December 30, 2017). Yes, oh yes. I’ve grown to really like the music and the story of this.

All in all, a reasonable season. I’ve been buying individual tickets when they first go on sale at the Pantages, at the cheapest price. I’m buying them online now, so I do get the service fee. Given that, I think I’ll see if I can get a 4-show mini-subscription this year, as it may mean better and more consistent seats for the price. I would love it if the Pantages did a “split into 2 payments” option, but I doubt they will. Too bad. They would probably get more subscribers. [ETA: The good news is that according to their website, they have 2, 4, and 10 no-interest payment plans. The bad news is that currently they only have a 7 show subscription. Flex packages go on sale around July.]

Other Tour Musings: Aladdin: The Musical just announced their national tour, starting in Chicago April-July 2017. Those dates mean it can’t go into the Pantages until at least 2018, and this is show that I’d expect to go into the Pantages. So it may show up at the Ahmanson in the Fall of 2017 (they haven’t announced their season yet), or (more likely) it will be in the Winter or Spring of 2018 at the Pantages. It also sounds like there is a tour of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  It is part of the 2016-2017 SHN San Francisco season, so my guess is that it will be a fall show at the Ahmanson, because (a) it is unlikely they would delay it until 2018, and (b) they rarely, if ever, book plays into the Pantages. Fun Home and Something Rotten have also announced tours; Fun Home starts in late 2016; Rotten in 2017. Given the Pantages schedule, I’m expecting both to show up at the Ahmanson. School of Rock: The Musical has also announced a tour; although that’s a show that would fit the Pantages audience better, the long sitdown at the Pantages means it will likely be an Ahmanson show. Gee. I’ve just figured out the Ahmanson season :-).

*🎭🎭🎭*

Repertory East Playhouse

userpic=repeastNow we come to the non-announcement. As you might recall, in all my writeups of late, I’ve been indicating that I’ve been waiting for REP East (FB) 2016 season. It normally would be well underway by now. But we have heard nothing from the theatre; their website has not been updated since December. I’ve heard ominous rumblings, but that could just be a bit of grisly beef I had for lunch. However, I did drop a note to REP, and did get a little something back. Basically, what I know is that they are closed for unspecified restructuring and renovations, and that a new season will begin in August. There will be a more formal announcement once the jello has jellified.

So the good news is: they are coming back. The bad news is: it won’t be until August. This is too short to switch a subscription to somewhere else, but I sense I’ll be getting a lot of The Group Rep (FB) tickets on Goldstar.

*👴👴👴*

userpic=las-vegasP.S.: This time it is true. Abe Vigoda has passed away. And in the universe, a thousand memes cried in sympathy.

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userpic=dramamasksContinuing my question to clear off the stored links…. I recently received (both from International City Theatre (ICT) (FB) and their publicist) the announcement of ICT’s upcoming season. Here are my thoughts on it:

  • Closer Than Ever. February 10 – March 6. Music and Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire. Filled with hilarious and poignant songs about dating, parenting, aging and dreams both fulfilled and unrequited, Closer Than Ever is like a musical “how-to” manual for life. With each song a self-contained story inspired by real-life experiences, its message to value the little things in life remains timeless.

    Thumbs Down Alas, I just saw the excellent Good People Theatre Co (FB) production of the show at Hollywood Piano Co. [writeup]. Once you have heard it on a wonderful 9½ foot Mason & Hamlin grand piano, who needs Long Beach?

  • A Walk in the Woods. April 27 – May 22. by Lee Blessing.  Lee Blessing’s brilliant and funny play of ideas, based on an actual event, is a stunningly powerful and provocative drama that seems more timely than ever and probes the most important issue of our time – the very survival of our civilization. Nearing the end of the Cold War, a pair of arms negotiators – a clever, cynical Russian and an idealistic young American – meet in the woods outside Geneva to explore the obstacles their countries face on the path to peace. Can personal bonds bridge political chasms?

    Thumbs Down Although I haven’t seen this, the subject is not a sufficient draw to make me brave the traffic to Long Beach.

  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. June 8 – July 3. by Christopher Durang. One of the most lauded Broadway plays of recent years, this witty mash-up of Chekhov characters and smartphones is a delightful new comedy for our hyperconnected era. Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia live an angst-ridden, melancholic existence on their Bucks County, PA family farm. That is, until their glamorous movie-star sister, Masha, swans in for a surprise visit-along with her hunky 20-something boy toy, Spike.

    Thumbs Down We saw this play in early 2014 when it was at the Mark Taper Forum (FB) [writeup]. Although entertaining, it’s not unique enough to make it worth the drive to Long Beach.

  • Doubt, A Parable. August 17 – September 11. by John Patrick Shanley. John Patrick Shanley’s riveting psychological drama examines the fine line between what seems certain and ambiguity, between conviction and doubt. It is 1964, a time of movement and change, but Catholic school principal Sister Aloysius values a stern hand over progressive education. When evidence points to an inappropriate relationship between Father Flynn and the school’s first black student, she begins a crusade to rid the church of him.

    Thumbs Down We saw an excellent production of this earlier this year at Rep East Playhouse (FB) [writeup] with the wonderful Georgan George (FB) as Sister Aloysius and Jeff Johnson/FB as Father Flynn. We also saw it back in 2005 at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) [writeup]. Again, no strong urge to go to Long Beach to see it.

  • Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself). October 12 – November 6. by Donald Margulies.A celebration of storytelling, this theatrical adventure is based on the real-life autobiography of Louis de Rougemont. An intrepid explorer, Rougemont’s amazing tales of bravery, survival and exotic locales left 19th century England spellbound. Join Louis and two other actors playing more than 30 characters in a high seas adventure with flying wombats, giant sea turtles and more.

    Thumbs Down Although this sounds like it could be a humorous play, it doesn’t sound like something with sufficient draw to bring me to Long Beach.

So, you’re probably wondering, what does draw me to Long Beach. First, when ICT does musicals that I’ve only heard or heard about, but never seen. Their productions of Loving Repeating, The Robber Bridgegroom, and Once on this Island fell into this category. Second would be a production of something I’ve heard about on Broadway and want to see, but hasn’t been done elsewhere in LA. Is He Dead? fell into this category.

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userpic=theatre_ticketsAnother entry in a continuing series of reviews of season announcements. This time it is the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB), where we recently saw the wonderful remounting of Carrie. It’s a bit of a drive, so a show needs to be special (in some way) for us to slog on down. Here are my thoughts on their upcoming season:

  • Thumbs Up First Date. September 18 – October 11, 2015 (Press Opening September 19). Book by Austin Winsberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Directed by Nick DeGruccio. I picked up the CD for this because it had Krysta Rodriguez and have really enjoyed the music. Plus Nick is directing — always a great sign. I’m going to try to fit this one into the schedule.
  • Thumbs Down Rent. October 23 – November 15, 2015 (Press Opening October 24). Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson. Directed by Brian Kite. For Rent, there would need to be something truly different about the production — an intimate setting, some special quirk of casting, some new twist. We essentially have the Broadway version captured in the movie.
  • thumbs-side Empire: The Musical. January 22 – Feb 14, 2016 (Press Opening January 23). Book, Music and Lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull. Directed and Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Empire is an original musical about those who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world, the Empire State Building. The subject doesn’t entice me, and I haven’t heard for the composer/lyricist. That sets up some red flags. I might withhold judgement on this until I learn some more.
  • Thumbs Down Dreamgirls. March 25 – April 17, 2016 (Press Opening March 26). Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. Directed and Choreographed by Bobby Longbottom. I saw this musical when it was originally out here (and I do mean the original), and the movie is still fresh in my memory. It’s not enough of a unique draw to bring me to La Mirada.
  • Thumbs Down The Little Mermaid. June 3- June 26, 2016 (Press Opening June 4). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Glenn Casale. This is about two weeks before it will be at Cabrillo Music Theatre’s (FB) (2015-2016 season), and we’re going to be subscribing to Cabrillo. Pass on another version.
  • Thumbs Down Green Day’s American Idiot. April 29 – May 15, 2016 (Bonus Option).  Music by Green Day. Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer.  Directed by Brian Kite. If I wanted to see this, I’d go to the upcoming DOMA (FB) version, as they do good work and create a great experience without the schlep. [ETA: LaMirada is doing an immersive staging — as they did with Carrie. Should be good, but the show just didn’t grab me the first time I saw it at the Ahmanson. Add to that a drive from Northridge to LaMirada (46 miles, about an hour), and if I wanted to see it again, I’d go to the much closer DOMA production.*]
  • Thumbs Down Leann Rimes. May 21, 2016 – 2pm & 8pm. A country music entertainer. Not the type of show that’s strong enough to attract me to a concert.

About 1 show. That’s usually the correct number with La Mirada — they have one unique show I try to go to each year (alas, I missed their production of Floyd Collins). [ETA: This is not to say La Mirada is bad — they just happened to pick shows that aren’t strong enough to offset a 1hr+ drive.]

[ETA: *: This highlights a problem in Southern California. Due to lack of coordination, we often have multiple theatres doing the same show at nearly the same time, and this just splits the audience. Funny Thing/Forum seems to be hot right now, as is Avenue Q. If you look at LaMirada, Little Mermaid is almost on top of Cabrillo — yes, they are 100 miles apart, but this is SoCal and we have cars. Similarly with AI, you’ve got it right after the DOMA production. It’s not just LaMirada: DOMA just did Jesus Christ Superstar, and REP in Santa Clarita is doing it this summer. We need a SoCal clearinghouse of shows, so everyone can do something unique and draw the audience.]

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userpic=theatre_musicalsYet another belated post from this weekend: My promised thoughts on the just announced 2015-2016 season at the Westwood Playhouse Geffen Playhouse (I’m sorry, but it’s always the Westwood Playhouse to me). I’ll note that The Geffen Playhouse (FB) is a great theatre — but one I rarely attend. Why? They very rarely discount, and their cheapest prices are often much much more than the cheapest at the Pantages. Thus, a show has to be really compelling for me to go into the $60+ ticket range. The upcoming “Murder for Two” is an example of such a show — in the smaller theatre, with little chance of discount tickets showing up, with the original cast, and something I really want to  see. Other than that, I think the last show I saw there was Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivens. For reference, the Gil Cates space is the larger with 512 seats. The Kenis space has 149 seats. So let’s look at the next season:

  • Thumbs Up THESE PAPER BULLETS! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Written by Rolin Jones. Songs by Billie Joe Armstrong. Directed by Jackson Gay. Sept. 8 – Oct. 18, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This sounds interesting — you have the leads of Green Day in something not from an album, and it is likely to garner discounts being in the larger of the Geffen’s two theatres.
  • Thumbs Down GUARDS AT THE TAJ. Written by Rajiv Joseph. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Oct. 6 – Nov. 15, 2015. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A violently beautiful, gruesomely funny comedy from the author of Bengal Tiger. A non-musical comedy, by an author I haven’t heard of, in the smaller theater. This might be interesting if I was a subscriber, but I don’t think it is a sufficiently compelling draw as a standalone.
  • thumbs-side OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. Written by John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Randall Arney. Nov. 10 – Dec. 20, 2015. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.  Modern romantic comedy in the Irish countryside.  The fact that this is John Patrick Shanley makes this intriguing, but not intriguing enough to overcome the price and the fact that it is in a really (theatrically) busy time of year.
  • Thumbs Down BARCELONA. Written by Bess Wohl. Directed by Trip Cullman. Feb. 2 – March 13, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. A seductive look at values and cultural collisions through the backdrop of Gaudi’s beautifully unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Sorry, but this description doesn’t grab me.
  • Thumbs Down SEX WITH STRANGERS. Written by Laura Eason. Directed by Kimberly Senior. March 1 – April 10, 2016. West Coast Premiere in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Two writers approaching love, sex and literature in comically different ways. Doesn’t grab me at Geffen prices. If it is good, I expect this one will reappear at smaller venues.
  • thumbs-side STAGE KISS. Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo. April 5 – May 15, 2016. In the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. This new comedy follows former spouses and actors on and off-stage (and script). Could be funny, but not enough to attract me (again) at Geffen prices. Might consider this if there are good discounts and it fits into the Spring schedule (and I remember).
  • Thumbs Down BIG SKY. Written by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros. Directed by John Rando. June 7 – July 17, 2016. World Premiere in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse. Brilliant new family comedy from a Pulitzer nominee. Well that doesn’t say much, does it.

In general, I see some similarities in the programming of The Geffen Playhouse (FB) and The Colony Theatre (FB). I subscribe to the Colony — it is closer, parking is easier, and I believe it is less expensive for subscriptions. Both seem to try for a mix of world premieres and west coast premieres, and both tend to small cast shows as they have to pay Equity contracts.

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userpic=theatre_ticketsI spent some time yesterday going through the list of shows at the upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival to figure out how I want to program my weekends in June. Previously, I was only able to hit one or two fringe shows. I’m still only going to be able to hit a small percentage (3.3%) (as I only have weekends available — weeknights — and even Friday night — in Hollywood is an impossibility with my work schedule), but I am going to be able to squeeze in a few more. Doing this, I realized what the HFF really needs: a smart scheduler. This scheduler should:

  1. Permit you to select the shows that are of interest to you, either individual, by category, by company, or any variety of selectors. It would also permit you to rank the shows from “must see” to “like to see” to “don’t schedule”
  2. Indicate the dates and time ranges you are available for shows throughout the festival period.
  3. Indicate the spacing you want between shows to accommodate transit time
  4. Indicating the meal times you want (ranges) and meal durations (so you can get lunch/dinner breaks)

With the above information, and the knowledge of show start times and running times, it would generate for you an optimal schedule that fit as many of the must-sees as possibles, and as many of the “likes to see” in the remaining spaces. After the ticket sales start, it would also have the capability to go out and ticket all the shows for you. The scheduling is a relatively complex CS problem to find the optimum schedule, but I do believe it should be doable. I think a website version would be best — I don’t believe in phone-apps for single-use purposes.

P.S.: Curious as to what shows I’m thinking about? Here’s the list of what I blocked onto my calendar: Clybourne ParkMax and Elsa. No Music. No Children., Wombat Man, Marry Me a Little, Nigerian Spam Scam Scam, Merely Players, Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, Medium Size Me, and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker. I had to work around some previously scheduled or blocked events: Grease (the Movie) at the Colony at 2pm on Sat. 6/6, a MoTAS Jethawks game in Lancaster (killing the entire day of 6/7), a morning Bat Mitzvah on Sat 6/13, a potential evening activity on Sun 6/14, and a drum corps show in Riverside on the last Fringe day, Sun 6/28. Shows that looked interesting, but I couldn’t schedule, were: Alien vs. MusicalBreaking BardNerd Anarchy: A Fantastic New Musical, Sin: A Pop Opera, Adam and Eve… and Steve, Stupid SongsAmelia’s Going DownEnshrouded in an Apocalyptic Mood, … and I’m sure there are others. With 241 shows (go to here and click “search”), so many sound interesting….

This entry was originally posted on Observations Along The Road (on cahighways.org) as this entry by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link below; you can sign in with your LJ, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. There are currently comments on the Wordpress blog. PS: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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