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"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Twentieth Anniversary Show January 13, 2013

       Twentieth anniversary Show at Cerritos

                                      By Glen Creason

    There was a concert at the Cerritos Center on Sunday afternoon and the rather well turned out crowd cheered mightily for old-timer Neil Sedaka and a very skilled five-person band that filled the big hall with musical memories. Appropriately, the show incorporated past greatness with material that was as fresh as last week.  Ah yes, the memories. This performance was to celebrate the twentieth year of beautiful afternoons and evenings at the Center. Maybe a few folks at this matinee remember day one of what seems like a lifetime of shows in the exquisite Performing Arts Center and certainly there were many familiar faces in the lobby before and after. I do know, however, that sweet memories were whirring through my head like an old movie projector shining delightful images one after another. Indeed the past couple of decades seem like they passed in the blink of an eye but when I started in 1993 I had dark brown hair and did not really know how to write an essay. Now my hair is far from brown and I am still learning to write essays.  It began for me on a hot August night in 1993 with Whitney Houston, who at the time was one of the biggest stars in America. La Houston set a standard that has been upheld for every season up to today and hopefully will continue for several more decades.
     I narrowly missed the first season when the great Frank Sinatra opened the hall but have since attended over five hundred (500!) shows at Cerritos and written around a quarter of a million words describing the thrills I experienced on Center drive.  It dopes out to about five novels worth, not counting a few magical moments when I was allowed to salute my parents or wrap up the best of each season with the Ellsie Awards.  There have been a few duds, as any hall must have. At one un-named show I described the audience as racing out of the orchestra seats like they were being chased by wild dogs.  Mostly however, there have been thousands of moments of exhilaration, of illumination, of hilarity and floods of hope flowing from that now well-worn stage. All from the place so wonderfully cared for by technical geniuses that cannot be thanked enough and the most helpful hall staff known to hospitality. Over twenty years I have had the genuine privilege of working with people like Victor Gotesman, Wayne Shilkrat, Michael Wolf, Dianne Cheney and of course the incomparable publicist Lori-Levine Yonan. It gave me some degree of humility at the Neil Sedaka show to be asked for my picture ID by the new kid in the box office, an operation that continues to surpass any in any theater in America. Way to go guys!
      It is impossible to single out all the great shows or great moments but some stand as tall as the beloved cool flags atop the theater: unforgettable shows like “Lackawanna Blues,” or the one man show on Clarence Darrow or “the Miracle Worker” or just sitting next to my late Mom at “Cats.”  There were fantastic musical performances by Sonny Rollins, George Jones, Cantus, Betty Buckley, the Chieftains, Tony Bennet, John Prine, Johnny Cash, the Irish Tenors, Audra McDonald, Andre Watts, George Winston, Karrin Alyson and my personal favorite Perla Batalla. There were shows that made us permanently smile a little bigger by the grand masters Garrison Keillor, Bill Cosby, Paul Rodriguez, DH Hughley, and a humble clown named Avner the eccentric. In this time I also learned to appreciate the art of dance and really find the magnificence of classical music with the help of Rob Kapilow. There isn’t enough room in the paper for all of this but it all was in the paper, well most of the time.
     So to be fair I should mention the very fit, energetic and seemingly timeless Neil Sedaka who has more hit records than you can count. The evening started with an amazing slide-show with great stars from the past singing Sedaka tunes and it astounded even the fans in the audience that this one man had written for greats from Patsy Cline to Frank Sinatra with Queen and Abba in between. Mr. Sedaka must have more money than Fort Knox at this point, (having sold more than 40 million discs before 1963) but he still loves to play and sing which he did very well for over ninety minutes with a clear as a bell tenor voice. There was fun pop from early rock and roll: “Oh Carol,” “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen,” “Calendar Girl,” “Where the Boys Are,” and “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” that had the gray heads bopping in the audience. There were the tear-jerking ballads too like “I Should Have Never Let You Go,” “Solitaire,” and the ultimate evergreen “the Hungry Years.” Yet Sedaka took it further than a greatest hits package and mixed in two not very surprisingly good new tunes “I’m Beginning to Breath Again” and “Mi Amor” with a Beethoven piano solo that would have done any of the tux and tails guys proud. Appropriately, the twentieth anniversary show ended with encores and a standing ovation for the man and the great hall. I heartily concur.


Blogger Unknown said...

Wonderful article. One of my all time favorites about the CCPA. I loved how personal it was. Thank you!

6:42 PM  

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