I started ballet class at 4 years of age, and have been in love with all things dance since then, if not before. Thankfully, I was blessed with extremely culturally aware parents, so I’ve attended more dance programs than the average person, in every town, city, state and country I’ve been in, from New York to Malta.
|Photography by Bill Cooper
Nine years ago, I had a religious experience at the Ahmanson Theater right here in Los Angeles. I saw the amazing “Swan Lake” that was created and directed by Matthew Bourne, and my mouth hung open the whole time. He instantly became my favorite choreographer. (I’m far from alone in that reaction.) I have since been lucky enough to see his productions of “Cinderella,” “Car Man,” “The Nutcracker,” and “Play Without Words.” All have been spectacular, although some more so than the others. If this man choreographed the phone book, I suspect it would be compelling, as well. (I want a “devised by” credit if he ever uses my phone book idea.)
Last week, his version of “Edward Scissorhands” debuted here, an event I had awaited all year, like Christmas. I even turned down a trip to Maui so I wouldn’t miss the opening! (I’m not kidding.) While not being my favorite of Mr. Bourne’s creations, it did not disappoint.
I’m not a fan of the movie. I saw it when it came out, and that was plenty. But I knew this version would be
colorful and clever and it was. The point of Matthew Bourne’s productions is never just the steps, but the whole execution. In this case, the sets were spectacular, and the costumes weren’t far behind. (They were like dancing paint cards, my favorite items of all time.) The most was done with what I consider a stupid story to begin with.
Of particular interest is the dancers themselves. Many of them should be on the upcoming show “Identity” because no one would ever guess their vocation. This company seems to have a knack for choosing unconventional movers, which adds to the uniqueness of the event.
Mr. X pointed out how everyone is always doing something on stage, and rarely the same steps, as in life. It’s
all so complex while presenting as simple. The sophistication of movement creates an almost hypnotic effect, in some scenes. There’s never a moment to reflect, which I mean as a major compliment. You just take it all in, and sort it out later.
Mr. X also commented that he expected
the production to be darker. Having seen all the other ballets from this group, I know what he meant. I’m glad it wasn’t. This was just the perfect entertainment for the holiday season. It made me actually consider giving the movie a second chance. But only if I don’t get to see the ballet one more time while it’s here.
“Edward Scissorhands” running through Dec. 31, 2006
Ahmanson Theatre 135 N. Grand Ave. 213-628-2772 www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
Mr. X eschews going out, which gives me a lot of time with my friends, as I’m out at least four nights a week. I’m usually at events, though, and don’t go out just for the sake of going out. But often when he’s out of town, I go out with people every night, and some are kind enough to plan lovely evenings that are what dates should be like.
One of the best of these evenings came years ago when my friend, Lloyd, said, “Let’s do something better than just a movie. Pick out a show you’d like to see and we’ll go.” (Sidebar: He also took me to dinner at Mr. Chow after. All on a plain little Tuesday night! And I wasn’t even a real date! The rest of you Gs should take note.)
|(From Top to Bottom) David Engel, David S. Humphrey Stan Chandler and Larry Raben star in the La Mirarda Theatre for the Performing Arts and Mc Coy Rigby Entertainment production of PLAID TIDINGS. Photo by Michael lamont
I picked out “Forever Plaid” because it was playing close-by, at the late, lamented Canon Theater in Beverly Hills. I enjoyed every minute of it. So much so that when Mr. X arrived home, I saw it again with him. And when it came back around a few years later, I took a bunch of my friends.
But somehow, over the five years of its existence, I’ve missed their holiday show, “Plaid Tidings.” So when I received an opening night invitation this season, I jumped at the chance. It’s playing in La Mirada, which some people see as a schlep, but the whole experience was great. More on that in a bit.
The Plaids are a fictional singing quartet, who died in the early 60s, but are back on earth for one night. The whole show is very entertaining, both in the comedy and superb singing of all four characters. The subtle set changes are fun, too. The first twenty minutes or so are a crash course in what took place in their first show, so if you’ve seen that, just bear with them. It picks up greatly towards the end of the first act, and the second act is a scream. I’m sick that Mr. X missed it because I could hear him laughing the whole time.
This was a perfect evening in the theater. As great as the original show was, hearing beautiful, and fun, holiday songs made it that much more special. And three of the four actors are the originals.
I had never been to the La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts because it seemed so far away. I didn’t even know where La Mirada is! I had to look it up on a map. I accepted the invitation because I love the Plaids, and knew that my friend Eadie would be fun enough to venture out of our geographical comfort zone for the adventure.
It turned out to be not that far way, especially on a week-end, when you don’t have to fight commuter traffic. And we went down early and had dinner first, which made it easier and more fun. (I’ll try to review the restaurant we chose in a later column. All I can say about it now is: good thing we’re both flexible!)
The theater itself is absolutely gorgeous! I’ve seen another like it only once, in Palm Springs, and this one is better still. The lobby is spacious and beautiful and even includes a working fireplace with comfy couches. And it was all decked out for Christmas. I would have loved to sit there and have afternoon tea. (I did get to sit there for the opening night reception, and it was hard to force myself to leave, even though I‘d been out and about for almost twelve hours, at the time.)
Cathy Rigby, Olympic gymnast and “Peter Pan” portrayer for the last million years or so, and her husband, Tom McCoy, are the Producing Artistic Directors of the theater, and it has a real family and community feel to it. I seriously can’t wait to go back there for the next event. If Mr. X has a change of heart and decides to leave the house at some point before the year is up, we may even head back there for more “Plaid Tidings.” You never know. Miracles do happen, especially at Christmastime.
“Plaid Tidings” running through Dec. 31
La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts La Mirada Ave. 562-944-9801 www.lamiradatheatre.com
And lastly, I’ve seen fourteen films, to date, that are in contention for awards this season. Here are some random thoughts on the crop, so far.
“Babel” is clearly an anti-gun film, but it backfired because it was so depressing, I wanted to run right out
and buy a gun to put myself out of misery. At the very least, I need to get hold of those new pills that erase bad memories. Or see “House of Sand and Fog,” to bring the room up. (It IS an excellent film; I just don’t know why it got made.)
“The Good German” is the worst film I’ve seen all year. And I’m a big fan of old black and white films. Which this was trying so hard to be. But instead, it was like one long Saturday Night Live skit. Even the usually amazing Cate Blanchett was hard to take seriously. And don’t get me started on Tobey McGuire. Suffice it to say I am not a fan.
I’ve had the good fortune of hearing some major filmmakers speak at select screenings. The most intelligent and enlightening of them has been Edward Norton, ( “The Painted Veil”), with Leonardo DiCaprio second. Jennifer Connelly spoke after “Blood Diamond,” wearing very sparkly jewelry that appeared to be diamonds!!! Bad choice, to say the least.
“Pursuit of Happyness” and “Dreamgirls” were good, just not as fabulous as they could have been. (And should have been, with the budgets afforded them.)
“We Are Marshall” is the best film I’ve seen so far this season. Just be sure to bring plenty of tissues, unlike the couple behind me, who instead chose to sniffle the whole time, and ruin my enjoyment.