Einstein is a Dummy opens in Sierra Madre

L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa
L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa

Its science to nurture your inner nerd.  It has a message…its ok to be curious, its ok to ask why, its OK to be different. All the issues every kid struggles with to be “popular” and be themselves at the same time is explored in this high energy production that opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse this weekend.  Think of it as Energy, the good kind like a colorful Saturday morning exploding on stage (and off at times) with the angst of a kid who doesn’t fit in and wants to.

Einstein is a Dummy is written by Karen Zacarias and brilliantly presented under the direction of Derek Manson for the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  Add in the musical score by Deborah Wicks LaPuma and you’ve got a show that kids will enjoy while picking up some lessons on personal identity and real science.

This is repertory theatre. The play has two cast so as to stage it for evening performances as well as matinee’s for schools here in the SGV.  (This play is aimed at the 3rd-8th grade student).  Regardless of which cast you see, you will have fun with your young genius.  I saw the Electron cast, those that have seen the Proton cast were equally amazed at the production.

The play starts with young Einstein talk with a stray cat in advance of leaving for a music recital.  Here we get the first hint at his curiosity and the gift of a compass that started him thinking about and developing his theory of relativity. Its this first bit where we learn that Einstein sees and hears the world differently.    Continue reading “Einstein is a Dummy opens in Sierra Madre”

Two Plays opening at Sierra Madre Playhouse

Einstein is a Dummy, Putting it Together flyer, click to embiggen
Einstein is a Dummy, Putting it Together flyer, click to embiggen

I’m pretty jazzed about this.  A first for the play house, opening 2 plays a week apart.  Running concurrent for a few weeks.  A hefty undertaking, but the cast and crew of the playhouse are up to making it happen.

Opening tonight, 3/7/2015 is Einstein is a Dummy.  A play really geared for the family but especially 3rd to 8th graders.  The nerdy types that are too smart for their own good but don’t test well…I had one of those kinda kinds in my brood.  This musical production centers around the life of young Albert Einstein at age 12 trying to fit in.

As an adult, Albert Einstein changed our view of the universe. But as a boy, he struggled with the same issues
any 12-year-old might—keeping up with violin lessons, impressing the girl next door and, oh yeah, comprehending the fundamental relationship of space and time to the speed of light, of course. This uplifting play about a fictional day in young Einstein’s life confirms that each of us is both ordinary and special. The whole family will love this delightful musical.

All you need to know about show date and times as well as ticket purchasing HERE.

Continue reading “Two Plays opening at Sierra Madre Playhouse”

Save L.A’s 99 Seat theatres

99orgIts a complex issue that doesn’t need to be.  There’s an agreement with the 99 Seat Theatres and the Actors Equity Association that exempts smaller non-profit theatres from paying a union scale in exchange for allowing actors to hone their craft, make “art” if you will.  Its been in force for ages, it what allows dozens of small theatres spread about Los Angeles to operate.  Without it they would wither and actors more interested in the art and developing their talent will be shut out.

Step in I Love 99.org to put forth all the facts and explain why its important and what you can do to preserve the agreement with Actors Equity.  Within their website are many links to tools to help your voice be heard if you wish to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.

Of course I have an emotional interest in keeping 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles. It goes beyond keeping my friends busy, its about keeping art alive in the city.  The loss of the 99 Seat Theatre would be devastating to them as well as the businesses around the theatres that depend on the traffic they generate.  I’ve taken my love of small theatre to the next level and am working on the board of directors with Sierra Madre Playhouse to help them grow and evolve in the community.  I don’t take this potential loss lightly.

Please support this cause in any way you can.  Tweet your support and use the hashtags #ILove99, #Pro99 . #LAThtr

 

A Walk in the Woods Premieres at Sierra Madre Playhouse

No spoilers. But its a grand performance by all concerned

Mamcy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse's production of "A Walk in the Woods"
Nancy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of “A Walk in the Woods”

Last night was the opening of Sierra Madre Playhouse’s performance of “A Walk in the Woods”.  It opened to a sold out house.  Its an entertaining, often poignant look at the world of diplomatic negotiators during the Reagan Era arms talks and their interchange on what makes us the same and different at the same time.  This play by Lee Blessing is directed by Geoffry Wade.

The four scenes take place during the four seasons in an American election year in a secluded forest in Switzerland.  The jaded and cynical Soviet negotiator  Andrey Botvinnik is portrayed by John Prosky.  Andrey has survived several U.S. Negotiators and capably guides his newst adversary through the mine field of arms negotiation.  He does this through humor and utter avoidance of the task at hand.  The new American negotiator that he must work with is Joan Honeyman played by Nancy Youngblut.  Joan is the spunky, starry eyed new kid on the block with ideals she can work out a deal to end the arms race that both sides can live with.  Andrey foils her at every step often leaving Joan aggravated and flabberghasted.  And the audience roaring with laughter.

Interlaced in this is the big politics of each nations history as a world power and fear of a past repeated.  All good stuff, hard to believe one can laugh condsidering the  task at hand and the issues they face.  Its also a very enlightening look at the process. You walked away wondering how it all went down and how anything was ever accomplished.  Or was it?  I highly recommend “A Walk in the Woods” if you are looking for a fun and enlightening theater experience.  These two actors carried you through the process of negotiations and becoming friends that respect each other very well.

This play is the 4th in the 2014-2015 Season that explores the American experience as told by American playrights.  This play and those to come are what will continue Sierra Madre Playhouse’s transformation into a Regional Destination Theatre.

You can order your tickets HERE.

Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024  Phone: 626-355-4318

Photo by Gina Long, courtesy Sierra Madre Playhouse and used with Permission.

 

Raymond Chandler did an operetta…make its production a reality

ChandlerBy now most of you should know that I’m a complete and utter fool when it comes to Raymond Chandlers works. I’ve read so many of the books and loved how they incorporated Los Angeles history and places into their fictional story.

I caught wind of the operetta a few months ago at a LAVA meeting.  Its titled “The Princess and the Pedlar” and is co-authored with pianist Julian Pascal.  Sounds pretty cool and should be easy to bring to the stage, right?  Not so fast, the estate of Raymond Chandler say its insignificant and won’t grant release of the work.  It will have to wait until 2029 at the earliest when its released to the public domain.  Sad.

But all is not lost, Kim Cooper of Esotouric and author of the “The Kept Girl” isn’t taking that hard no as a final answer.  She has a petition on change.org asking the Estate to reconsider its position.  Please sign.  I have, its an important bit of the Los Angeles story by one of our own authors that deserves to be seen.

12 Days of Giving : Sierra Madre Playhouse

The playhouse at night, click to embiggen
The playhouse at night, click to embiggen

By now those who know me know I don’t just jump in half assed when I decide to support a non-profit.  They have to have a hook that gets my attention.  Sierra Madre Playhouse is just that and they need help…volunteers and donations if they are to grow to the next level.

In the last few years with the arrival of Managing Director and Estelle Campbell and Artistic Director Christian Lebano, they have brought a vision to change this once sleepy community theater into something else.  Its a very special place well on its way to being the regional destination theater they have envisioned.

There has been a lot of dialogue lately about the state of theater in Los Angeles. It is so often overlooked and under-appreciated, and there are constant wails over how theater is dying. But the magic of that combustion, the ephemeral now, is what I think will keep theater alive. If you haven’t experienced that, I invite you to see a show at the Playhouse. Once you feel that magic you will be seduced.” – Christian Lebano, Artistic Director

Like so many non-profits they are starved of man hours and money to carry out their mission to bring quality plays written by Americans about Americans.  This last year has seen them shake the joint up and brought in uniquely American plays like 6RMS RIV VU, 4,000 Miles and A Little House Christmas.  On tap next is “A Walk in the Woods” which continues the trend of stellar productions.  But they need helpif they are to carry out their plans.  If you got a few hours to donate, they’ll take it.  If you have some spare change to donate to the cause (Its tax deductible as they are a 503.c non-profit organization) they gladly accept that too.

You can easily pay via credit card through PayPal.  An even more painless way is bring the attached PDF Coupon to Ralphs when you go grocery shopping and they donate a percentage of your sale to Sierra Madre Playhouse.

Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024

A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen.  Click to embiggen
The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen. Click to embiggen

Breaking a decades long tradition and following Creative Director Christian Lebano vision of bringing American plays by American authors,  A Little House Christmas opened to applause last night in Sierra Madre.

A little backstory about the play.  We all know Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stores of growing up in the 1800;s in the big woods or out on the Prarie, It was even a TV show for many years which is how many of us learned of the books.  The play is based on the book and was adapted to stage by James DeVita.  The Little House Heritage House allows little deviation and creative license,  That didn’t stop Directro Emily Chase from working with music curator Lindsey Stand-Polyak and music director Rebecca Lord from getting permission from the trust to incorporate period apporpriate music into the play.  It works. It works really well.  The songs, many of them “new” to this century are a marvelous addition to this simple themed play and adds real depth to the story.  I loved it.

The play takes places in the 1870s on the prairie and spans the course of 1 week with a wicked storm that wreaks havoc on the Ingalls family Christmas.  I won’t give any spoilers on how Christmas was saved, you need to watch the play to see the execution of the play and the heart warming ending.  Suffice it to say, kindness to others previously brought about the happy ending for the Ingalls family.

The Ingalls family as portrayed by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen doesn’t deviate from the books or TV Show.  Added bonus to this is that “Pa Ingalls” in real life can play the fiddle and whips it out at appropriate times in the story to add some real life to  this simple story line. Continue reading “A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse”

Little House Christmas comes to Sierra Madre Playhouse

ALittleHouseChristmas
The Sierra Madre Playhouse is breaking tradition and bringing in a new play for the Holidays. “A Little House Christmas” premieres on Friday November 28, 2014 and I don’t want the play to get lost in the holiday busy shuffle.  Carve out some time and bring the fam to what promises to be another marvelous production by the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

The play as you might guess is based on the “Little House” books done by American author Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The book has been adapted for theatre by James DeVita.

The Sierra Madre Playhouse presentation of A Little House Christmas is directed by Emily Chase. Her cast includes (in alphabetical order) Jolie Adamson, Pamela Daly, Jeff Doba, Jim Harnagel, Eric Charles Jorgensen, Fletcher Kamal, Valerie Rose Lohman, Andrew Stock, Hannah Victoria Stock and Amy Tolsky. UCLA musicologist Lyndsey Strand-Polyak is the production’s consultant on music of the ear, which will include vibrant fiddle and guitar playing as well as lively dance.

All the details and ticket ordering can be found on the Sierra Madre Playhouse web site.

4000 Miles premiere at Sierra Madre Playhouse was simply amazing

Leo and Vera meet for the first time...
Leo and Vera meet for the first time…

Last night was the opening of 4000 Miles a pulitzer nominated play at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  The play was so well executed and performed you didn’t neet an intermission.  It ran a full Hour and Forty Five, but the time flew thanks the the simply amazing performances of Mimi Cozen as the grandmother Vera and Christian Prentice as the grandson Leo.

I’ll try not to give too much of the story line away or drop a spoiler.  This is a drama with a lot of comedy included.  Leo is a young man on a literal and metaphoric journey.  Leo left Seattle on a bicycle with a friend who died tragically in an accident along the way.  Leo arrived at his Grandmothers flat in New York at 3AM. The grandmother wasn’t expecting him and the first tiff started.  During the course of this play Leo makes a new and stronger relationship with Vera.  She wisely guides him through his problems and difficulties.  Eventually they face a common sadness and he completes his bond with his grandmother.

Of course the supporting characters deserve mention here too.  Bec, Leo’s girlfriend played by Alexandra Wright does a wonderful job of shedding light into Leo’s problems as well as allows us to learn more of Vera as she attempts to help her see her love for Leo and save that relationship.  Bec in a way winds up being the hero that gives Leo the final push he needs to mend fences and move forward. Continue reading “4000 Miles premiere at Sierra Madre Playhouse was simply amazing”

4000 Miles makes L.A Debut at Sierra Madre Playhouse this weekend

Pulitzer nominated play 4000 Miles makes it Los Angeles debut this weekend at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  I’ll be there for opening night and will report more detail on the production after I’ve seen it.

Of course I won’t let you just hang without a tease.  The bit of info from the Sierra Madre Playhouse website:

When 21 year-old Leo shows up at his 91 year-old grandmother’s apartment in the West Village in New York City at 3 a.m. after biking 4000 miles across America neither expect it to be more than a one-night stay. But over the course of a single month, these unlikely roommates infuriate, bewilder, and ultimately reach each other. This beautiful and funny play was called “the best play of the year” by Time Magazine and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2013.

You get more info oin the play and ordering tickets at their WEB SITE.  Opening night is this weekend and there are some tickets left from what I have been told.  The venue is perfect for this tupe of a play, big enough for  a grand stage production but small enough that there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Fund Raiser at CPK in Pasadena for Sierra Madre Playhouse 9/4/14

Sierra Madre Playhouse and California Pizza Kitchen in Pasadena have teamed up for a fund raiser to benefit the Playhouse and its coming production of “4,000 Miles”  The fund raiser is only at the Pasadena CPK on Los Robles, all day on Thursday September 4, 2014.  When you give your wait person THIS FLYER, 20% of your purchase will go to Sierra Madre Playhouse to fund this production.

Sierra Madre Playhouse was chosen over many other theaters in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles premiere of “4,000 Miles”  That play from what I’ve heard is an interesting look at transgenerational values and the exchange between a young man and his estranged grandmother.  The play opens September 26 and runs through November 8.  More details here.

Deets: California Pizza Kitchen, September 4, 2014 11AM-10PM.  99 Los Robles Ave (at Union Street), Pasadena CA.  MAP HERE.  Flyer HERE

Sierra Madre Playhouse presents “6 rms riv vu”

SM6roomsConfused?  You should be, its New Yorkese for “6 rooms, river view” for a rent controlled apartment in the city.  The play is much more than that, its a look at the generation gap between the baby boomers and the generation that immediately preceeded them.  It about the shift in attitude of the 30 somethings in 1972 surrounded by the new ideas of the teenagers behind them and how they were raised.  Its questioning moral values and right and wrong.

The play itself is well written and I’ll try not to give any spoilers, the play focuses on 3 couples, two who actually get trapped in the vacant apartment and discover they have friends in common.. There is sexual tension that escalates and is discussed in great detail by Anne Miller played by Lena Bouton and Paul Friedman played by Jeremy Guskin.  These two actors deserve a standing ovation for their energetic performance.  They really carried this show with their beautifully executed dialog.

The show is worth seeing and making the trek to Sierra Madre.  The Playhouse is a small intimate setting without a bad seat in the house.  Its been spruced up since I was there last and it really is a nice venue.  Added bonus is that the actors all mingle with the crowd after the show is over out front.  Many wind up at Luck Baldwins for a night cap after that.

There are a few performances left before the show closes on September 6.  Full information on the cast , director and support team on the Sierra Madre website HERE.   Seats are available and can be bought on line HERE.

Details. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madred Blvd, Sierra Madre 91024  MAP HERE 626-355-4318