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

A Christmas Carol at Sierra Madre Playhouse through 12/23

Sierra Madre Playhouse has got to be one of my favorite venues for plays.  Its a small theatre with a wonderfully warm setting.  Intimate even. This trailer is just a sample of the quality of work that they do there.   They are presenting A Christmas Carol now through December 23, 2013.  The play is on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays only.

This being a small venue it is advisable you buy your tickets online in advance of the showing you would like to see.  They do sell out fast.  Ticket prices are $25/28.  Online you do have the option of picking your seats.  You may order HERE.

Deets: Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, California 91024 (626) 355-4318 MAP HERE

The French Concert in Sierra Madre Sunday 10/6

sundaymusicseriesfrenchconcert
Poster for The French Concert

Consistently voted one of the best community theaters in all of Los Angeles, the Sierra Madre Playhouse is presenting “The French Concert”.   This is a joint effort with the Colbert School of Music in Los Angeles.

They will even have a liquor license for the event and you will be able to enjoy some great wine during intermission.

You can get your tickets online and I would suggest buying early as this small, intimate venue could well sell out.  You can order online HERE.

DEETS: Sunday October 6, 2013 7 PM.  Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA MAP HERE  Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for Seniors, and $10 for students(to age 21).

Sierra Madre Playhouse presents To Kill A Mockingbird


We all know the story for required reading in High School.  To Kill A Mocking bird is set in 1935, the rural south and told from a child’s point of view.  It is about a black man accused of raping a white woman and exposes the racism of the period.  This cast gave a wonderful rendition of the play on their small intimate stage.

What I didn’t know is what a great little venue the Sierra Madre Playhouse is for such a play. It is small enough that you have an up close and personal view of the stage no matter where you are in the room.  The seats are nice and comfy stuffed theatre seats…though they are covered in bright red mouse fur.  Parking is ample and free near the theater.  One caveat, they don’t do assigned seating, rather its by cattle call Ala Southwest so you do need to be in line early in order to get the best seats.

I’ve been here in the SGV for many years and often heard of the Sierra Madre Playhouse, just never had the time to get there until last night for the short trek up the hill to see them.  If To Kill A Mockingbird is an indication of the quality production they do I’ll be back.  More information on Sierra Madre Playhouse’s presentation of To Kill A Mockingbird just pop onto their web link HERE.