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 19, 2006

Man of La Mancha November 19, 2006

Man of La Mancha Conquers Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The Man of La Mancha rode into Cerritos over the weekend and while he did tilt at windmills, he also brought much topical wisdom from this wise fool called “the knight of the woeful countenance.” Dale Wasserman’s musical came bubbling back to life on the Performing Arts Center stage as warm and amusing as the show I saw as a mere stripling at the glittering new Ahmanson Theater in 1967. As in any enduring work of musical theater this production contains memorable songs and a story that resonates through time. There is a light touch when needed, mostly from the character of Sancho Panza and a tremendously demanding dual role of the “Don Quixote” and the writer Miguel Cervantes. The crucial character of the “Man of La Mancha” must be sympathetic without being pathetic, not an easy task when portraying a lunatic who believes he is a knight-errant, some three hundred years down the road from chivalry and feudalism.
Steve McCoy held the production at Cerritos together in this role. He crafted a fine “Knight of the Woeful Countenance” with gesture, body language and crisply delivered dialogue. His Man of La Mancha was admirable and loveable despite his utter delusion. Even though the old man believes he is slaying dragons and saving innocent maids he is actually battling windmills and complimenting barmaids. Yet, along the way he demonstrates the optimism of his spirit and the worthiness of his quest. McCoy also had the task of pulling off the two trademark vocals in the show “I Don Quixote” and “The Impossible Dream” which are stalwarts in any musical repertoire. McCoy’s fine job set the tone for the rest of an outstanding cast. Michael Barra did an upstanding job as Sancho, a link to the audience’s admiration for the old knight’s devotion to honor, courage and civility. Tess Rohan was a saucy Aldonza/Dulcinea the shady lady who comes to appreciate the higher virtues of her admiring Knight. Shawn Pennington was exceptional as the humorless and brutal Dr. Carrasco. Overall, the entire cast brought enthusiasm and professionalism to every role.
The real, live musicians in the orchestra pit enhanced the musical portions of the work. They warmed the sound, keeping pace with strong vocals by Ms. Rohan in “What Does He Want of Me” and the rousing ensemble piece “Little Bird.” The show had a nice flow and the amazing one room set was changed with lighting and movement of pieces in the space creating the dark claustrophobic feel of a dungeon on one hand and then the airy impression of the knight on his quest on the other. In the end the juxtaposition of the knight’s hallucinated, noble quest versus the oppression and misery of the inquisition make his idealism seem not so misguided after all. The kernel of truth in all of the Man’s misguided adventures is that he stands for the bright side of human nature and even the darkness of repression and inquisition cannot squelch this human spirit.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tower of Power November 9, 2006

Tower of Power Lights Up Cerritos

By Glen Creason

East Bay institution Tower of Power came to Cerritos on Saturday night and lit up the local groove transformers with musical electricity that could have powered the left coast from here up to Oakland. Blasting off like a funk space shuttle, the band roared at full throttle through an amazing, high-voltage show that sprinted from start to finish without a gulp of air along the way. The juiced up TOP crowd came to move and it became darn-near impossible NOT to shake something when the fellas roared through the first turn at about the second song in the fully-power-packed twenty song sprint. Considering many of these cats were blowing their horns in the days of Haight-Ashbury their youthfulness on stage and musical strength was inspiring for the white whiskers set who salt and peppered the hall. This is a band that must be heard live and each show is one to cherish for folks who like their tunes served hot. I think the sometimes staid Performing Arts Center will glow from this one for a while.
The hallmark of Tower of Power has always been the famed horn section anchored by Doc Kupka on baritone sax and leader/founder Emilio Castillo on sax. However, this night was elevated by a marvelous rhythm section, including the blazing brass of lead sax man Tom Politzer, a scorching array of guitar licks by Bruce Conte, the keyboard voyages of Roger Smith and a powerful, stage-filling performances of vocalist Larry Braggs. The band opened, oh so appropriately with “We Came to Play” and blasted the lid off the big hall for eight consecutive, rocking numbers including “Soul With a Capital S,” “Only So Much Oil in the Ground,” “Can’t You See,” “Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground” and the one ballad that slowed the heartbeat under a hundred “Time Will Tell.” Even the ballad moved to a stirring finish thanks to Braggs and those blasting horns. Unsatisfied with the bouncing audience in the first half the Tower of Power busted off a chunk of nine more numbers that never slowed from a gallop. When they sang the utterly uplifting “You Ought to Be Havin’ Fun,” everybody was having fun, including the band from one to ten. Familiar hits gave the faithful something to hang their R&B hats on including the giddy up of “Don’t Change Horses,” the lyrical “”So Very Hard to Go” and the truly funky “Still Diggin’ on James Brown.” Braggs commanded the stage while the band wailed behind him, especially the V-8 sax of Politzer and the stinging solos of Conte who left audience mouths hanging open whenever he stepped forward. By “What is Hip” the entire crowd was standing, staying up mostly through the glories of “Soul Vaccination” and encores of “You’re Still a Young Man” and “Knock Yourself Out.” The Oakland soul placed before this So. Cal audience showed Bump City to be a musical motherland for fine old jams, as demonstrated by this true Tower of Power.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Peter Frampton November 4, 2006

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