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.

My Photo
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, February 24, 2013

Women of Ireland February 23, 2013

“Women of Ireland”: Become Women of Cerritos

                By Glen Creason

     As St. Paddy’s day looms, Cerritos has taken on a definite green hue as of late and Saturday’s “Women of Ireland” show was more of the musical forty shades. On the tapping heels of “Rhythm of the Dance” this “Women of Ireland” show offered another grand scale, grand celebration of Celtic pride and a glorification of the Emerald Isle’s dance and song. The concert brought much more color than green, including an entire stage-full or beautiful women and fine looking men along with some amazing musicianship that spared no showman (or woman) ship. At the center is the dazzlingly gorgeous trio of O’Neill sisters (Fiona, Naomi, Evangeline) from Kerry  who sang well alone and even better together, such contemporary songs as “Marie’s Wedding,” “Carolina Rua,” “Where the Blarney Roses Grow” along with the lively “Red Haired Mary” that well pleased the decidedly enthusiastic crowd. The lovely ladies changed from one fine gown to another and while their voices were high and sweet on songs like “the Green Fields of France,” “There for Me” or “Imagine” it was hard not to get lost in the enchantment of the O’Neill’s pulchritude.
     Yet, some of the finest moments on this night came from the little, scene-stealing fiddler Niamh Gallagher who not only raised the temperature of the concert hall whenever she put bow to fiddle as her  joyful countenance was infectiously delightful to fellow performers and audience. Likewise, fueling the fun were the excellent small band of drums, whistle/bodhran, guitar, pipes/saxophone, the terrific keyboards of Cian Boylan and the amazingly invigorating accordion of Kevin Jones. Both gents were brilliant throughout along with Dan the drummer man. That is in no way to slight the absolutely marvelous dancing of the supremely confident (for good reason) Kelly McDonnell, her unfairly unidentified male counterpart and the two young ladies who exploded onto the stage like flying pixies, lighting up every number they joined and causing great gushes of applause from the balcony. When the evening concluded I could only repeat  “slainte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mna go deo” (health to the men and may the women live forever!”)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Paco Pena: Flamenco Vivo February 15, 2012

Paco Pena Brings Flamenco Vivo! to Cerritos

                                                    By Glen Creason

     You would assume that since Paco Pena is widely considered the greatest traditional flamenco guitarist in the land that his show “Flamenco Vivo” would be pure Paco with a little help from his friends. Yet, the “Flamenco Vivo” concert before a packed house at the Performing Arts Center was very much an ensemble piece with the humble Don Pena providing a powerful but ego-less center to an extremely fine evening of this fascinating, centuries-old Spanish art form.  The troupe provided a thoroughly authentic and thrillingly passionate performance with everyone playing together to create something truly special and memorable in this rather rare night of Andalusian fantasy. The stage was spare and the feeling was intimate like a gathering in a courtyard or around a campfire as three guitarists, a percussionist, two singers and three dancers enthralled the very receptive house for near two hours.
     Of course, most people came to see Maestro Pena play his guitar or see the flying feet of the dancers but on this night, the soulful, Middle-Eastern influenced vocals also provided a perfect spice to the instruments and dancing.  The show began with Paco Pena leading with the exquisite Charo Espino and Daniela Tugues warming the stage with their expressive hands and rhythmic feet along with the achingly expressive singing of Jesus Corbacho and Cristina Pareja immediately turning Cerritos into Cordoba.  The following solo by the great guitarist was one of the most masterful since the last Sonny Rollins concert here.  Yet, all of this was merely a warm up for the dozen more pieces that followed, each adding to the enchantment.  Charo Espino used castanets and a shawl to punctuate stories in song and handsome Angel Munoz defied the laws of stamina with his dancing. Daniela Tugues was a vision in perfect synchronicity with the lush streams of flamenco music.  Singers Corbacho and Pareja showed the Arabic influence in their intense singing that somehow seemed to come from the same well as American blues.  At the end it was summed up perfectly in a rousing encore when they all joined on stage playfully with a guitarist singing his song and the rest laughing. The obvious joy in the artists on stage made the performance feel like part of an evening with friends, a very sweet moment indeed. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rhythm of the Dance

Rhythm of the Dance Brings Dance and Blarney to Cerritos

                  By Glen Creason

    I guess it was Michael Flatley in the show “Riverdance” that bumped Irish step dancing onto the big stages and into the American imagination.  Since that show and the ensuing “Lord of the Dance” in the early 1990’s the art of Irish dance has gone big time and spread out all over the world. Over the weekend Cerritos went step-Celtic with the very big and very polished “Rhythm of the Dance” show that rocked full houses and made many an Irish eye smile…so to speak. Rhythm is large scale from the towering backdrops to the video screens to the many costume changes to the very impressive dance talent throughout the troupe. There were also five live musicians aided by some recorded booming bass and all-important lighting that played a bigger part than most such shows.
     This program is long and full of brisk dancing, quaint musical selections and plenty of Vegas-tinged Blarney. As a matter of fact the first musical number was “Where the Blarney Roses Grow” as part of an Irish Music Hall medley. While the singing of the three ROTD tenors was fine and the tight reels and jigs of five person band were lively and sweet the focus was always on the flying feet of the dancers. A more comely group of lasses and lads you will not find and the obvious joy they felt in being able to dance made the show live and breathe.  Particularly impressive were Doireann Carney and Nicola Kennedy for the ladies and tireless Connor Smyth who was quite literally the lord of this dance…performance. The delighted audience was given plenty for their money with over twenty numbers including “Northern Exposure” that exploded the “troubles” between the green and the orange and “Swing Time” that took the dance to New York in the 1920’s with trumpets and trombones joining the pipes, harp and flute. Still, the finest moments were the rousing ensemble number filled with flying feet and taps at what seemed like the speed of sound, like the appropriately named “journey’s end” to finish the full concert. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Miro Quartet January 31, 2013

Miro Quartet Bringing the Brilliance of Beethoven to Cerritos
                       By Glen Creason
      The minute they strode resolutely to the stage, the Miro Quartet literally set the tone for an evening of no-nonsense genius from Beethoven at his most angst-ridden and serious self. Dressed like characters from Mad Men: Daniel Ching and William Fedkenhuer on violins, John Largess on Viola and Joshua Grindele on cello wasted no time in launching into the no nonsense “Serioso” which was originally not intended for public performances but composed for connoisseurs who might be broad minded enough to accept the unexpected in this piece. Struggling with his imminent deafness and financial difficulties Beethoven goes to some deep and dark places here but rays of hope shine in at least two of the movements including the exuberant conclusion. Compared to the “Serioso,” the second Quartet “La Malinconia” began like a romantic breath of fresh air despite the melancholic name, taking the audience on an introspective journey with parts filled with tangible sweetness. The demanding scherzo seemed to give the Miro Quartet motivation to charge into the pensive Allegro and a really exciting Allegretto with a passion that made it hard to blink. While the Miro gentlemen do not resort to much in stage color they put their talent into the music and made Beethoven’s genius shine forth.
The String Quartet in c-sharp major, Opus 131 completed the concert which would be appropriate since it was one of Beethoven’s last and certainly one of the most memorable of all-time. The delicate and exquisite opening Adagio of this seven part wonder just made the heart ache but it was just one of many evocative moments in this lengthy piece. While the entire ensemble played with great skill and inspiration the cello of Joshua Gindele was asked for much and the young man delivered it all. A highly appreciative crowd roared their approval and were rewarded with an encore of another Quartet from Opus 130 “the Cavatina” that was greatness emblazoned.