Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.
- Name: Glen Creason
- Location: Fear City, Ca., United States
"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Kool and the Gang September 18, 2009
By Glen Creason
Friday night was party night at the Center for the Performing Arts which almost sounds formal in comparison to the sweaty, full throttle funk-a-thon that took place there for a couple of high octane hours. On a big, Vegas-style stage twelve of the gang filled the hall with thick, bass and percussion heavy sounds that the exceedingly rowdy crowd reacted to by staying on their feet for the entire set. The sound came in fuzzy walls of bumps and grinds with all the complexity of Atari Pong from the decade when Kool and this same gang made their first hit records. This is not lyrics driven music, it is booty-driven and there was much shaking of that same part of the anatomy and points north in front of the stage. Pity the house staff that was overwhelmed by well-oiled enthusiasts who were invited by the band up to hug the footlights where the fire lines are drawn. Oh well, it was quite a sight to see even if it did invite chaos.
The evening opened with “Fresh” and most certainly gave a hint at what would follow as the entire place got up on their feet and danced. For the most part this kind of energetic pulse continued with others of a similar vein including “Stepping,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Funky Stuff” which gave the crowd some pounding groove that allowed them to show off their stuff, especially the many highly pneumatic ladies in their Fredericks of Hollywood ensembles, many of whom could not have been born when the song first hit the airwaves. There were some tunes that gave some hint of balladry like “Take My Heart” or “Cherish” but even the love song “Joanna” never allowed pulse rates to get lower than about a hundred. The sound was such a monolith it was not easy to find the many guitar and horn solos but in those moments when they sliced through the bass and percussion it was obvious that the men were accomplished at those instruments. Still, this music is not about sitting and pondering life’s mysteries, it’s about getting up and letting the rest of the folks see you dance.
The crowd was often compelled to sing along with their dancing and one of the highlights of the show was a young woman who was invited up on stage in a rather scintillating bit of audience participation, doing one full, very sexy minute of the huckle-buck or some such thing. The show finished with a torrent of funky Kool and the Gang hit sounds including the obligatory “Ladies Night” that really was enjoyable from where I sat, craning my neck to take in all the feminine finery up front. “Get Down On It” was pumping up the energy to what looked like a finale but after a wild drum solo interlude the gang returned for the “Celebration” that made sure no one went home with dry clothes.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Oedipus the King, Mama! September 3, 2009
By Glen Creason
On the road in search of entertainment I found myself at the Falcon Theater in Burbank, invited by friends to take in the latest production of the comedy group, the Troubies called “Oedipus the King, Mama!” Not since Mel Brooks made Hitler a rib tickling comedy has such a dark subject matter been the launching pad for so much mirth as this wildly crazy musical phantasmagore-ia. The Troubies have been doing similar send-ups for years but this was my first and it was more than amazing in the pace and comedy of what was sort of a plot based on the two-thousand thirty-eight year old second part of the trilogy of tragedy by Sophocles. What makes the production profoundly funny is the real adherence to the original story with dialogue and loose interpretations of the events of the original. This creates a framework for ribald songs and shenanigans that are so over the top they make you open your mouth in amazement before guffawing. Throw in some caffeinated, full-stage dance numbers, lots of topical humor (as up to date as the Health Care debate), Elvis inspired musical moments, broad physical comedy and you have a very enjoyable couple of hours at the theater.
The Troubies or Troubadour Theater Company puts fourteen comedians on stage and each one has plenty of time to shine while quite purposely stepping all over each other’s lines. It seems the jollity spread at the Falcon is not a very well kept secret as the place was packed with folks laughing to the wheezing point and the show repeats that five nights a week. While every single player is very good here the Troubies roller coaster of comedy is held in place by three steely lynch pins playing the key roles. Director/Narrator Matt Walker is amazing in his verbal and corporeal dexterity certainly drawing comparisons to the emcee in the musical Cabaret but with bleeding eyes this time. Rick Batalla as Creon actually takes on three roles in one and knocks them dead in triplicate. He is one part dupe, one part schemer and one part a hyphenated curse word that can never appear in a family newspaper. Lastly Beth Kennedy as lusty Mama Jocasta with overflowing bosom and booming red-lipsticked mouth is perfectly delightful and disgusting all at once. The entire chorus really is fine but both Elvis’ (what is the plural of Elvis?) James Michael Lambert and James Snyder were excellent in voice and comedic timing. While the principals elevate the proceedings the ensemble productions, particularly the finale and the shoehorned tribute to Michael Jackson were sheer Euterpean exhilaration. While this is a small theater production there are people up on the stage that are more than equal to any comedic players seen on network television, especially on Saturday night and you can tell your friends you saw them first at the Falcon Theater.