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"

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli March 20, 2015

Cerritos Straightened Up and Flying Right

    By Glen Creason

    It was almost like the Performing Arts Center was built for the concert there on Friday night with two of the best musicians ever to stand (or sit) on the stage playing the music of one of the greatest Southern California based musicians ever to sing a sweet note. The truly great pianist Ramsey Lewis and the jazz-master John Pizzarelli make for a perfect pair to express the wonders of the intimate but exhilaratingly expressive Nat King Cole songbook that filled the hall on this evening with really memorable playing. Maestro Lewis has a talent so rare and refined that he can say a lot with little waste as he did for the show opening introduction to “Route 66” that seemed to cover every mile from Kingman to Pasadena. He looked dapper, like he had just came from the barber shop on his way to church but the man’s hands are ageless and when he explored “Hit That Jive Jack” playing the melody with his right hand and accompanying himself with his left the big Steinway & Sons grand piano just connected hearts all over the hall. On the other hand, John Pizzarelli not only played his Moll seven-string guitar like a master but provided the art of witty patter and a knowledge of Nat King Cole-iana that is encyclopedic. This thorough musicologial wisdom allowed the show to rise far above any tribute program  by mixing the chosen material between the familiar and beloved like “For Sentimental Reasons,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Unforgettable” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” to the delightful, forgotten gems like “Hit That Jive Jack,” “The Best Man,” and “Baby Baby All the Time” that turned out to be the peak performance in an evening of very tall musical mountains.  It certainly helped that the masters Lewis and Pizzarelli were ably abetted by the brilliantly inventive Joshua Ramos on bass and rock steady Charles “Rick” Heath on drums with both men keeping the sound pristine and perfect for the understated but perfectly pronounced vocals that Nat King Genius used to croon. Not only did the packed house get to enjoy some of the best playing ever in Cerritos, they left whistling great tunes and learning a lot about the labels, the songwriters,  the history of each song and plenty of laughs along the way. This was an experience that would lead any music lover into thanking their lucky stars that they were able to see and hear, in person a true genius of the piano with a master of the jazz guitar while enjoying music that will live until the polar ice caps melt.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Magic March 15, 2015

It’s Magic…it really is

      By Glen Creason

      It is difficult to describe something that isn’t there as in the end result of many magic tricks but then again I have been writing reviews that sometimes disappear for quite some time now. Yet what was there on a Sunday in Cerritos was an embarrassment of magician riches all appearing and disappearing on the stage at the Performing Arts Center much to the delight of a pretty good-sized crowd that admired legerdemain and prestidigitation times five. This magic show as about a straight forward and simple as it comes except for the “tricks” that unfolded without as much as a hiccup during the full ninety minute banquet of old-fashioned magic the way they have been doing it at the Magic Castle in Hollywood for sixty odd years. There were half a dozen remarkable magic acts that were completely different except that they followed the rules of the art form so well not a soul in the audience had a clue as to how they were accomplished. Comedian Matt Marcy hosted and was spot on perfect, adding to the fun without ever staying too long or taking the show too seriously. Parts of the delight of any such show are the “volunteers” and at Cerritos there were many who will remain anonymous here even though they served well at this matinee.

     There was Mystina, the lone lady on the bill who used her graceful dancer’s physique to distract and perform in both black light and footlight including some amazing stuff with scarves and newspapers that were shredded or were they? Illusionist David Zirbel stood tall with some fine work with rings, and barrels full of beautiful magician’s assistants who appeared unscathed and disappeared quite magically.  Suave Danny Cole’s wardrobe was elegant and changing before our very eyes much to the amazement of those even a few feet away. The two-time magician of the year was flawless and in the grand tradition made it look effortless. For comedy relief juggler-comedian Dan Raspyni knocked out the house mostly with his self-effacing humor and use of audience participators while actually juggling like a thirty-year seasoned pro. Finally and certainly the grand finale was Mark Kalen and Jinger Leigh who performed classic illusions with aplomb and some wry humor. This did involve sawing ladies in half, swords passing through same and even levitation alongside the levity. A terrific show and now the disappearing review. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story March 6, 2015

Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story Turns Back the Cerritos Clock
                                                  By Glen Creason

      On a weekend when the clocks spin forward it was ironic that the musical on the Center for the Performing Arts stage spun it backwards delightfully fifty-six years.  The show that came here was top-rate with nostalgic sets and costumes, a solid sound system and strong performances from all over the cast. Certainly, many in this well-seasoned Cerritos audience remember hearing Buddy Holly’s irresistible sound coming out of their car radios back in those cruising days but to hear the songs live with modern technology was lots of fun and achingly evocative of a time we still cherish. As far as this production went on Friday night at Cerritos Todd Meredith as Buddy stood tall in his acting and playing to the point where you caught a glimpse at the young man who captivated America for a couple of years in the early days of rock and roll. The beauty of Holly’s amazing gift however is that his uncanny ability to write pop hooks with simple, straightforward lyrics allow them to survive to this day. Every song played in this show was a winner, each a half a century evergreen hit.  It helped this Buddy that he was surrounded by a fine supporting cast including Steve Steiner as High-Pockets, Jenny Stodd as the bereaved Maria Elena, Marianne Depietro in several roles, the acrobatic Bill Morey as bass-man-showman Joe B. Mauldin and Nathan Yates Douglass as the put-upon Norman Petty. Special mention should be made of the truly sensational efforts put forward by David Reeve throughout in his dancing and singing along with Eddie Maldonado who absolutely lit up the stage every time he gyrated upon it including two show stopping numbers “Shout” with Reeve and a super-heated La Bamba that would have Richie Valens smiling from beyond. Truthfully, Reeve and Maldonado took a good story with memorable songs and turned up the heat and added some chile to the banquet.  Yet, the real megastar of this show is the music of Buddy Holly who was a true genius of popular music, creating great stuff record after record after record until his young life was snuffed out in that terrible plane crash in Clear Lake Iowa back in 1959 on the day the music died.  This show makes sure the audience gets to remember why Buddy Holly brought rock and roll into the 60’s with songs like “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue, “ “Words of Love,” “Every day,” “Well Alright,” “True Love Ways,” It’s So Easy” and the true to the spirit “Rave On.”