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, December 29, 2013

Broadway on Ice December 28, 2013

          Broadway on Ice at Cerritos: Elegantly Cool

                 By Glen Creason

     It might seem daunting to put a dozen supremely athletic artists on skates gliding at top speed across an area as small as the Performing Arts stage. Yet, the superb show “Broadway on Ice” that visited over the weekend just made you forget everything except these graceful and fearless artists and the perfectly appropriate Broadway music that inspired the dozens of segments that made up this remarkable evening. This is a show created by people who obviously love the art form and make great demands on the performers who meet the challenge with great big smiles on their beautiful young faces. There is not a skater on the ice (that in itself is astounding if you have attended shows at the center) who is not an accomplished performer. Just on the level of speed and precision of the choreography this show demands plenty of bold moves that were met with aplomb and joyful confidence by this excellent troupe. This type of entertainment takes plenty of dedication and rehearsal which “Broadway on Ice” must have done before hitting the road, as a matter of face, hitting the road with this show for the last nine years.  They last stopped here in the beginning with Dorothy Hamill and this time it was gold-medal Olympian Ekaterina Gordeeva who alone made this a night to remember. Like ice skating royalty Ms. Gordeeva was not on the ice a lot but when she appeared she lit up the stage, albeit a frozen stage.
     However, the show is not all ice and glittering costumes. It is also terrific singers standing on ice and hitting all the notes of great Broadway songs. The versatile and strong baritone of Davis Gaines provided fine musical moments in showstoppers like “This Is the Moment,” “Bring Him Home,” “Old Man River,” and a wonderful “Music of the Night” with a solo skater providing a gorgeous physical manifestation of the song behind him. Soprano Ira Lauren shone on “Somewhere,” “Wishing You Were Somehow Here With Me,” and in a beautiful duet of “All I Ask of You” that she and Gaines just nailed. While much of the music was canned the Gershwin segment with pianist Lincoln Mayorga was exceptional made sensational by accompanying skating by Yebin Mok. It would be shame not to mention the truly marvelous skaters and there were many who performed brilliantly including the opening solo by Angela Vandermissen, the vigorous athleticism of Danny Clausen and Aaron Gillespie, the perfect harmony of Jonathon Poitras and Elizabeth Putnam and the cool precision of Annie Laurie. Still, the spectacular skating of Marc-Oliviere Bosse and the really breathtaking routines of Kim Navarro with Brent Bommentre made for truly sublime moments on the ice. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2013

Dave Koz and Friends Make Cerritos All Shiny and Bright

             By Glen Creason

     Dave Koz had a lot of presents under the tree at his very big and traditional Christmas show at the Performing Arts Center over the Cerritos weekend. The smooth adjective has been jettisoned and maybe for good reason since the pace was as brisk as the Winter Winds that stirred the cool flags on top of the theater and there was plenty of rocking, non-smooth moments to remember in this show. This was a concert that spared little in the Christmas bells and ornaments with an impressive lighting system, a fully decked-out stage, a multi-media screen and costumes that would have made Vegas envious. Ah yes, there was also music, lots of Christmas tunes that were translated well by the artists who wowed the full-house with more than two dozen mostly well-known and well-played classics. The headliners besides Koz were pianist Keiko Matsui, guitarist-singer Jonathon Butler, singer Oleta Adams and a guest turn or two by young violinist Aaron Weinstein.

      It is impossible to resist the positive charm and enthusiasm of Koz plus his generosity to the band and other artists make for a very engaging and sweet-natured evening at the theater. The foursome played together or in duets a selection of old chestnuts that still sounded pretty fresh. Stuff like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “My Favorite Things,” “Christmas Song,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “White Christmas,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and even “Jingle Bells” were polished up and presented with high-energy and some unexpected flourishes that made the big crowd giddy at times.  There were some non-Christmas hits played like Koz’s “You Make Me Smile,”  “Black Lion” by Keiko Matsui, “”Wonderful World” by Jonathon Butler and a soaring “Get There” by Oleta Adams. Still, the highlights of this show were the terrific Chanukah tune “Eight Candles,”  done beautifully by Koz in duet with the talented Weinstein and the extended, emotional reading of “O Holy Night” by Butler that got a standing ovation from every seat in the big hall.  This style of music is perfectly suited to remembering the old favorites without having to brush the dust off the music and Koz is a perfect interpreter of the happiness of these cherished holidays. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Colors of Christmas December 14, 2013

Colors of Christmas Cerritos-style

     By Glen Creason

          The traditions of the season are in full bloom in Cerritos: the malls are full, the car lots swarmed, the street decorations glittering and the big voices are booming at the sold-out Performing Arts Center. It is time again for four big-time singers to great the Yule tide in the form of “The Colors of Christmas” now deep into its second decade.  This year’s Christmas extravaganza was held in place by solid vocal cornerstones Melissa Manchester, CeCe Winans, Ruben Studdard and the dapper host Peabo Bryson who treats Cerritos like his hometown. This might be because Bryson has crooned his way into the locals Christmas hearts as the headliner in this show for 22 years now.
     This year’s fest featured lots of Christmas tunes and a few mega-hits thrown in for a rather full two dozen musical presents under the tree. These are the big voices that the production demands since they are on stage with a full orchestra and choir that really fills to hall to the tip top of the balcony with plenty o’ cheer. In some cases all four voices joined together in a combination of the old and new or broke off into duets.  “Unto Us,” introduced the principals and opened a good first half, followed by good old “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in four part high-octane harmony. Each star had a time to twinkle as did Peabo on “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “It’s Christmas” as well as the evergreen “Christmas Song.”

Ms. Manchester sang “My Christmas Song to You” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas along with a fine duet of “Counting My Blessings” while Cece Winans was more spiritual with “Because a Child Was Born” and light-hearted “Jingle Bells.”   Ruben Studdard seemed to be the crowd favorite and he did not disappoint in fine readings of “Someday at Christmas” and “I Need an Angel” that brought the house down. The stars sang their hits; Bryson with “Beauty and the Beast,” Ms. Manchester with a quartet lead by “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” Cece Winans with an astounding “Oh Holy Night” and Studdard on a terrific “What’s Going On.”  Yet, the very best moments were when everyone joined together in the spirit of the season, especially the choir’s “Are You Ready for a Miracle” and a sanctified “Go Tell It On the Mountain” that got the spirit into the feet and hands and hearts of the big crowd. 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Chris Isaak November 30, 2013

Chris Isaak at Cerritos: A Full Measure of Music and Charm
                        By Glen Creason

     A packed, multi-generational house greeted Chris Isaak on Saturday night at the Performing Arts Center and the energy in the big hall was almost as electric as the great sounds that rocked from the stage for a long, happy time. The evening was opened by big brother Nick who was pert near good enough to headline anywhere but when Chris brought out his superb five man “Silvertones” band the voltage surged to a sweet and joyful level that continued for two extraordinary hours of sounds that encompassed musical decades and several genres without a performer's seam showing.
     Isaak is a master entertainer who can make his Gibson guitar work miracles within the structure of the band and an encyclopedic knowledge of country, pop and blues music that comprises this high-voltage show. He is capable of singing a ballad to make your tear ducts moisten, then demonstrates his impeccable taste in country roots with Roy Orbison strength notes that reach the back row of the balcony. Yet, what makes Chris Isaak unique in pop music is his incredibly quick wit that connects the obviously joyful musicians to the audience in a self-effacing but hilarious way. The man is an absolute grand master of between songs patter. This band is so good that any of the tall tales Isaak tells on them are taken with honest laughter that spreads throughout the hall. The platform that guitarist Hershel Yatovitz, bassist Rowly Salley, keyboardist Scott Plunkett, drummers Kenny Dale Johnson and Rafael Padilla provide for the front man lifts him and the music up very high. Fortunately for the big crowd Chris Isaak likes the rarified air up there and sings and plays at the highest level through a couple of dozen songs that cross many a musical style and pay tribute to some of the greats of American Pop.  These would include Isaak's own smashes like “Speak of the Devil,” “San Francisco Days, “ “Somebody’s Crying,” “Wicked Game,” “Two Hearts,” “Big Wide Wonderful World,” the bittersweet “Washington Square” and the delicious “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.” All of this was mixed in with the classics from the heroes of his youth “Only the Lonely,” “Ring of Fire,” “Fools Rush In,” “Pretty Woman,” and “Great Balls of Fire” that would make Orbison, Cash, Elvis, and the Killer proud.

     Just to place an ornament on top of this early holiday show Chris Isaak spread presents from his Christmas album including “Blue Christmas,” “Rudolph…,” “Christmas on TV” and the delicately perfect “Pretty Paper.” Truthfully, the only people having more fun than the utterly delighted sold-out house were the guys up on stage who bounced around like kids on Christmas morning.