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"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Norman Brown and Gerald Albright March 15, 2014

Norman Brown and Gerald Albright Fill It Up at Cerritos

               Glen Creason

     A full house in a festive mood greeted two master musicians on Saturday night and it might be a good thing they did not pay the men by the note because there were many, many thousands that ricocheted around the Performing Arts Center. Veterans of many a concert and musical  genre Norman Brown, the guitarist with the 78 rpm fingers and Gerald Albright, the saxophonist with the hurricane-like lungs filled it up while the well-dressed crowd rocked in rhythm all night.  Both men have plenty of soul and depth of musical understanding but the truly amazing part of this concert with the skill mixed with unreal stamina. Albright claimed to be AARP but he must be dipping his horn into the fountain of youth. Norman Brown heats that Eastman guitar up to white hot degrees.
     Norman Brown opened the show with some opening chords from “Shaft” and the concert then went all over the musical map with R&B, Blues, Pop, Jazz and Funk having destinations met in the mixed bag of fevered playing by both gents. He romped through “Love’s Holiday” from Earth Wind and Fire’s repertoire then visited the pretty hot smooth jazz of “After the Storm” with audience scat-participation. In a big 180 he moved through Jimi Hendrix’s “Who Knows” to “Keep It Movin’” with Gerald Albright engaging him in hot traded licks on their respective axes. Couples cuddled to “Any Love” and the first half closed with a brisk “Take a Ride.”
     Albright kept the pulses pounding in the his half especially in the wild “It’s a Man’s World,” which was followed by surprisingly high-octane “Bermuda Nights,” followed by the astoundingly fiery “Close to You” which put some hot sauce on the Carpenters song. In the finishing kick the romantic energy surged with “My My My,” a truly terrific “True Colors,” and with the help of the tireless Norman Brown “Champagne Life” which put the house on its feet where it stayed toward a grander conclusion.


Sunday, March 09, 2014

West Side Story March 8, 2014

    West Side Story Dances at Cerritos
                                     By Glen Creason

     It was eye-opening to see the fresh and energetic “West Side Story” that hit the stage at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend. Especially for those of us who learned and listened to the big-budget film made of the musical and the songs we have sung ever since. You would be hard-pressed to find a more powerhouse trinity than Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins who wrote the music, lyrics and choreographed in that order. There is great genius at work here and the young cast at Cerritos did not squander the chance to prove the shows exalted pedigree.  Still, as played in the here and now the show does naturally bend more toward the women and is less a tragedy and more of a musical. Luckily, the women in this cast were extraordinarily good both singing and dancing. MaryJoanna Grisso was absolutely sensational with a powerful yet sweet soprano that made even familiar tunes like “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere” celebrations of the songwriter’s art. Michelle Alves was terrific, lighting up the stage in every minute she held court and youthful Jarrod Biron Green was convincing and very sympathetic as the star-crossed Tony whose love for Maria transcends even his terrible mistake made in a moment of passion.  Alexander Cruz as Bolo was both stylish and strong in the demanding role of the Puerto Rican gang-leader who must stand up to the racism thrust at him and his immigrant community.

     Still, the real stars of this show were the entire cast since the dancing is at the heart of telling this modern day rendering of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Choreographer Joey McNeeley was masterful in recreating Jerome Robbins masterpiece of dance without once showing a molecule of age on the extremely fine ensemble numbers. Director David Saint kept the show very true to the classic original but left room for the exuberant young cast to express their take on the telling of this age old tale. With a live orchestra, interesting sets and costumes the production really left very little to be desired.