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"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brian Wilson August 27, 2011

Brian Wilson Makes Summer Sweeter at Cerritos

                                       By Glen Creason

“And the way the kids talk so cool is an out of sight thing
And the number one radio station makes the town really swing yeah
Salt Lake City we’ll be coming soon”

     It might seem funny to quote this verse and then go on to rave about the great songwriter who wrote it but such is the case of the unique Brian Wilson. Mostly known as the driving force behind the Southern California native son heroes “the Beach Boys,” Wilson is a bona fide genius at composing and arranging popular music. His work stretches from the early surf-sound gems of the 60’s to recent triumphs in the 21st century including the improbable re-working of Gershwin tunes. An exuberant full-house of Wilson fans awaited him on Saturday night at the Performing Arts Center  and they were not disappointed despite giving the man a standing ovation at the first few bars of “California Girls” that was the curtain raiser at Cerritos.  Odd, quirky, original,  and mostly just amazingly talented, Brian Wilson lead a ten-man band that presented the song signposts of Boomer-youth in a hall where many in the crowd were twenty-something’s who have just recently “discovered” the endless Summer of Wilson-groove.
     For the white-goatee set there were the songs that were just like a drive up PCH in a convertible when you weren’t ashamed to go shirtless and had plenty of hair hanging in an inverted wave across your tanned forehead. It felt great to hear “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Catch a Wave,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “In My Room,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” and the now ironic “When I Grow Up to Be a Man” that featured that fantastic Beach Boys vocal harmony and driving sunny beat. Only the achingly nostalgic and corny “Surfer Girl” seemed to slow the band’s accelerator but even lesser lights like “Wendy” or “Drive In” or yes, “Salt Lake City” sounded very sweet in these arrangements. While Wilson sometimes sits at his keyboard with arms down at his side or waving unpredictably to the sounds it is very much his talent that makes this all sound so great, with precise harmony coming from everywhere on stage and a tapestry of composition that meshes all the threads perfectly. A perfect example of the power of the sound was the first-half closing kick of the rousing “Darlin’,” “Let’s Do It Again,” and a wild “I Get Around” that made me actually feel young again.
    The second half mixed the surprisingly fine Gershwin medley with Wilson originals including George’s  “Summertime,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “I Got Rhythm” and the fine “Nothing But Love” alongside the hymn-like “Add Some Music” a perfect “Sail on Sailor” and one of Brian’s favorite old ones “The Little Girl That I Once Knew.” The band just got better as the show progressed, especially the twin talents on keyboards/vibes/vocals in Scott Bennett and Darian Sahanaja and terrific work from saxophonist Paul Mertens and percussionist Nelson Braggs. Yet, the lynchpin of the entire sound is the falsetto singing and guitar playing Jeff Foskett who was a tower of strength. More Beach Boy beauties flowed including “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice, “ “God Only Knows” the recent winner “Heroes and Villains” and a rip-snorting “Good Vibrations.” Everyone stood and danced or thought about dancing in the glow. The following encores belied a man near 70 but Wilson drove this adoring audience to heights that only a master can reach.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chubby Checker August 14, 2011

Chubby Checker Twisted and Terrific at Cerritos

                     By Glen Creason

     Back in the day my little sister was quite the socialite when my family moved to Orange County for several strange years. As a third grader she was a stylish trendsetter with her RCA Victor portable record player and one single, sensational record that sped on the turntable at 45 r.p.m.s. That same disc became the center of action at THE social event of the year “a Twist Party.”  Every kid in her class attended and gyrated to a sweaty fare thee well at Chubby Checker’s hit record of 1960. When parents came to collect the young hipsters they might have been ordered to get down to Wallach’s Music City and put down the $1 to buy a copy. Since that day, Chubby Checker’s song has been played at least a trillion times on top-40 radio and in homes across the globe. Recently, a poll listed the humble tune as the favorite pop single of all-time. But that was 1960 and even with my math skills that makes it 51 years old and the singer something beyond those years. The question was “can Chubby still twist?”
     Surprise number one was seeing the old twister looking so healthy and fit, even wearing skinny jeans believe it or not. Second surprise is that he can still sing, moreover, he can still rock pretty darn good. The show was so stimulating that many of the Boomers present felt compelled to get up on the stage and you guessed it, twist. Chubby Checker is a seasoned pro and he did what has always made him an enduring and endearing figure in pop: he sang one good song after another without as much as a heartbeat in between.  They came in breathless succession: “Good Lovin’,” “Little Bitty Pretty One,” “Pony Time,” “Limbo Rock,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” all evergreens from pop history along with nice imitations of other masters like Fats Domino (“I’m Walking and Blueberry Hill) and even Elvis (“Stuck on You”). Yet the crowd came to twist and Chubby sang all of those songs including “Twisting U.S.A., “Let’s Twist Again,” “Twist It Up” and the very grand finale of “the Twist” that saw many come dangerously close to a chiropractic visit in the near future. This was a good natured and energetic show with “the Wildcats” accompanying with strong rhythm and blues backing, even with a couple of guitarists that probably never saw a turntable, let alone the one with the .45 spindle. Also there was a generous amount of audience participation including one woman of the Boomer vintage whose “hucklebuck” brought the house down.  The audience loved it and gave the man two standing O’s at the conclusion.
     The afternoon concert was opened by comedian Scott Wood who was very funny for just the right amount of time, working clean and clever throughout. Danny and the Juniors performed some pretty frisky Doo Wop as the curtain raising act including some real classics from the Rock and Roll vault like “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay,” “Pony Express,” and the classic “At the Hop” that made some memories stir in many a chair at the Center.