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.

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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"

Monday, February 07, 2011

Garrison Keillor February 6, 2011

Garrison Keillor Charms Cerritos

By Glen Creason

Locals were lucky once again to sit at the red running shoed feet of the master storyteller Garrison Keillor at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend. Anyone who has ever held a microphone in front of a group of any size must bow down to this wonderful humorist, who in my humble opinion is the foremost public speaker in the land. Even the awesome Bill Cosby doesn’t have Keillor’s versatility who sang, told stories and recited great poetry in this superb two hour banquet of the spoken word. After struggling with some health issues a couple of years ago that threatened his performance schedules Keillor is back and better than ever, this time with musical accompaniment ala the Prairie Home Companion radio show he invented and made hugely popular. Not just any accompanists but the excellent Robin and Linda Williams whose talent stood tall even next to the towering Maestro Keillor.

There are so many reasons to love this man’s show from the sincere humility that peppers his droll stories to the ad libbing that on this afternoon included two absolutely brilliant recitation send-ups of Cerritos without once mentioning the Auto Square. Hurray!! Sometimes Keillor was a bass provider in a folk trio; sometimes an actual baritone singer and several times he followed the path of Rex Harrison and sort of talk-sung which in French is called a diseur. God only knows if Garrison Keillor has some hard and fast play list but on this afternoon he rambled and crooned and charmed a delighted packed house that chose this national treasure over even the Super Bowl.

The first bit of humor was a recitation about Atheists which covered the bases and took no sides despite Keillor’s longtime relationship with the Episcopalian and Lutheran churches. Along with the crisp reading of “Hello Stranger” by Robin and Linda he won over the happy crowd with “the Cerritos Song” that I wish I had on my Ipod. He told long stories like ones about his family trip west where they forgot him in a North Dakota filling station and a shorter one about simply counting your blessings. He knocked off a bit of Guy Noir Private Eye battling Joey Robitussin and spun a long and delicious tale of growing up in Minnesota with a landscape rich with aunts. All the while the Williams’ rang out wonderful stuff, with some old gospel classics like “Jordan,” “Turn Your Radio On,” “I’ll Be Satisfied” and “When I Put Out to Sea” along with contemporary beauties like Iris Dement’s “Our Town.”

When Robin and Linda were not singing sweet harmonies they were laughing with the rest of the delighted audience at more stories including the hilarious differences between the world of raising a child forty years ago and the world of raising a child now which Keillor can surely testify to since he has a son 42 years old and a daughter who is 14. Yet, not everything in the show is completely light-hearted, since the man is a great student of great poetry which he recited with ease, grasping lines from Tennyson like we might recite a line from a Four Tops song. As host of the terrific “Writers Almanac” on Public Radio, Keillor is a man of great intellect who has put it to work entertaining and edifying the American public for four decades. In the intimacy of the Performing Arts Center he just came to real-life much to the delight of this adoring crowd.


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