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, November 20, 2005

Julie Budd Friday November 18, 2005

Classy Julie Budd Does the New Classics at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The cozy Sierra Room at the Performing Arts Center was almost too small for the expansive style and talent of Miss Julie Budd last Friday evening. Miss Budd, is a seasoned pro and her powerful performance deemed “the New Classics” won over the cabaret crowd and then some on this night. Gaining an enthusiastic standing ovation from the intimate setting audience demonstrated the little lady’s polished gifts and exquisite musical choices. Truthfully, the costumes, delivery and notes hit might be more at home at Carnegie Hall but Lady Budd never wavered from all out, throughout.
Garbed in elegant gowns of silver and red in the two halves of this show Julie Budd told stories of her East Coast youth and sang some gold-plated material drawn from the most interesting sources. On this night she was as much a musicologist as musician which made the act all the more delightful. You can’t help comparing her to Barbra Streisand in appearance and accent but Julie Budd may be what Babs could have been had she stayed on a musical stage and focused on just that art form. This is a singer who knows how to wring every molecule of emotion out of a song.
She opened with the dreamy “Still in Love With Me” followed by Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Someone to Light Up My Life” and cast a real spell with the beautiful “Weekend In New England” by Randy Edelman. Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” was a tonic and the fine Elton John song “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Part” fit the new classics descriptors. Jimmy Webb was there with “Didn’t We” and Neil Sedaka’s “Hungry Years” left little for the musical apetite. Yet, the audience begged for and got her personal property of “Roses and Rainbows” that purred and percolated in places. On the gorgeous “After You” the full palette of vocal color was shown by Julie Budd with breathtaking results.
There was a generous helping of the venerable gems of American song including medleys from Oscar Hammerstein with Richard Rogers then Jerome Kern that varied from the serious commentary of “You’ve Got to Carefully Taught” to the sweet and light of “Something Wonderful” to the low-down “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine.” There was a swell tribute to Dorothy Fields in story and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” song. Other highlights in a pretty inspired show were the monologue and song from “a Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and the dazzling encore of a back to back Andrew Lloyd Weber treats of “Music of the Night” and “With One Look” that was the best version of this “Sunset Boulevard” song ever heard in this neighborhood.
When Julie Budd takes on these melodies she swirls them around in her soul, tasting them like a fine wine and savoring each line with sentiment and style, performing each like it is the last she will ever sing. She finishes with a flourish, arms outstretched, head thrown back and a smile as big as Manhattan on her face. You just can’t help loving this way of honoring the new classics.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Broadway on Ice November 11, 2005

Broadway On Ice: Warms Hearts at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The show “Broadway On Ice” took over the Performing Arts Center last weekend and surprised a lot of attendees like a bracing spray of eye-opening ice-shavings across the brow. Maybe they, like me, thought that this might be a pleasant glide across the ice as in the old Ice Capades accompanied by organ music and performed by grinning, painted ladies in high white skates. The main attraction was the presence of ice skating royalty: Miss Dorothy Hamill who did America proud in the Innsbruck Winter Olympics, taking home the gold medal and millions of hearts back in 1976. However, this was no tame skate-a-round and certainly transcended any Capades or ice show I have ever seen. It was spectacular in all aspects from the choreography, the skating, the sets, the costumes and the added attractions that made this one a show to remember. Actually, this was three shows in one: the main event certainly was the incredible, ageless Dorothy Hamill but she was joined by a tremendous singer named Davis Gaines and piano virtuoso and comedian Dale Gonyea. Together this unlikely trio formed an evening full of laughs at Gonyea’s story and song, utterances of awe at the Gaines’ huge voice and squeals of delight for the graceful skating of the talented ensemble and leading lady.
The perfect structure of the performance is Broadway music which ranged from classic stuff like 42nd Street to the contemporary sounds of “Rent.” While most of the music was canned it was more of a platform on which skaters soared and gracefully twirled in sonic space. However, several numbers that used the skills of pianist Dale Gonyea elevated an already fine evening. There were thirty-some numbers, all of them utilizing every inch of the amazingly transformed Performing Arts Center’s frozen stage. While Dorothy Hamill shone like a diamond in this crown she was not alone in skating skills and charm. Every single member of the troupe dazzled in their times on ice especially the pixyish Svetlana Butova, the elegant, balletic Viktoriya Glichenko, gorgeous Lynne Petta, quietly powerful Maxim Foma, smooth Andrey Baka and turbo-charged Chris Nolan who handled several solos with aplomb and athleticism.
While the skating was absolutely wonderful the surprises came from Davis Gaines and Dale Gonyea. Gaines opened his set with a toweringly powerful “This Is the Moment” from the little known “Jekyl and Hyde” which had the entire audience at the edge of their seats. Once called a vocal “superman” Gaines certainly did not lower his super-standards as he continued with a sweet “Tea for Two” with Miss Hamill’s accompanying, exhilarating routine and an “Old Man River” that was aged in oak. Dale Gonyea played possibly the funniest musical medley in hall history, most certainly the only one in which seventeen local cities were included in hilarious song. It had never occurred to me that Cerritos could rhyme with “deep fried fritos” or the I would hear a song that included Downey and South Gate in its lyrics. Gonyea showed superb timing, incredible improvisation and comic gifts that had the large crowd in stitches every second he was on stage, especially when he sang several “official songs of the City of Cerritos.” Yet, in a serious turn, he took to the piano and played a flawless “Rhapsody in Blue” with the principal skaters behind him creating a magical portion of a very fine evening of music and beautiful skating. “Broadway On Ice,” despite its fine pedigree was a show that exceeded expectations by miles, certainly a show that left us laughing and wanting more.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Jim Brickman November 3, 2005

Jim Brickman and Friends Enchant Cerritos

By Glen Creason

If the folks at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts were expecting some kind of neo-Liberace, dreamy, piano-romance-fest they must have been a bit surprised on Thursday evening at the Jim Brickman concert. Instead, the large crowd was treated to a long evening of excellent musicianship, self-effacing humor, fine song selection and high-spirited interplay between the headliner and his worthy co-horts, Tracy Silverman and Anne Cochran. Certainly Mr. Brickman DID play a generous amount of his trademark romantic pieces which had the ladies swooning and couples cuddling but his in-between banter and solos by violinist Silverman and songstress Cochran made for just the right blend of levity and love. Brickman has mastered several slices of American popular music and if the adoring multitudes of Cerritos are any yardstick his popularity is rising like real estate prices in the southland. From the humble beginnings as a jingle writer Jim Brickman is practically a franchise in himself today.
The concert was divided into five basic parts: romantic piano ballads, atmospheric tunes, music of Walt Disney films, commercial ventures/ sports song and sweet ballads that are “our songs” in thousands of weddings. Certainly the heart of the show is when Brickman sits at the huge nine foot Yamaha concert grand piano and sends his dreamy love-scapes into the hall as he did for a marvelous medley that included a bouquet of songs we have all heard as the bride and groom take their first spin on the dance floor as Mr. And Mrs. On-Their-Way-To-Forever-Together. “Love of My Life,” “Destiny,” “By Heart,” “the Gift,” and “Valentine” certainly decreased the spaces between lovers in the audience. Other Brickman “romantic” style compositions on a higher plane transfixed the faithful as in “Heaven,” the worthy “Peace (Where the Heart Is), “Heal Me,” and a peak into the near future with “Green sleeves” and “Amazing Grace.” The absolutely amazing violinist Tracy Silverman took a turn on “Serenade” that moved from black leather heavy metal to overalls wearing bluegrass with the touch of his toe. His solos of “Here Comes the Sun” and “Ave Maria” to open the second half provided a perfect variety to the piano foundation of Brickman.
This is not to forget the role of singer Anne Cochran, a comrade of Jim Brickman going back to their youth in Cleveland. Anne added beauty, wit and a strong voice to tunes such as “After All These Years,” a soaring “the Gift” and a concert highlight “We’re All Alone” which actually put Brickman in the background for a rare four minutes. Ms. Cochran also provided much humor in the very amusing question and answer period with her droll answers. Her presence allowed the headliner to show his funny side when they traded barbs and stories of his days in commercials hawking the likes of Cheerios, Pontiac, 7-Up, and McDonalds. This lead into his eventual work composing music for the Olympics which he demonstrated with two rousing works “Freedom” and “Heroes Dream.” A medley of Disney tunes including “Beauty and the Beast” “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” proved so popular that when the show wound to a close the crowd brought Mr. Brickman back out for a delicate encore of “When You Wish Upon a Star” that was a fitting end to a starry-starry night.