Well here we are in month number three.
Spring allegedly arrives this month and by now we should all be used to
writing 2011 and not 2010. Visited all my local favorite haunts last
month, San Manuel, Candlelight Pavilion and the California Theatre of the
Since there were two shows at the
California Theatre in San Bernardino, I will start there. Have you heard
of Stephen Schwartz? Unless you are a person who to read the credits,
Stephen Schwartz is not exactly a household name. Schwartz has had a hand
in writing music for some of the biggest Broadway shows and Disney
cartoons since at least 1970 when Godspell became a huge hit. He is also
responsible for the hit play, “Wicked.” Evidently Schwartz got tired of
having others perform his songs and has embarked on a tour of his own
entitled "Stephen Schwartz and Friends."
first thing we noticed was that the stage had only a grand piano and two
stools. There was going to be no instrumentalists besides whoever sat at
The person that sat at the piano was
Schwartz himself as he started the show with “Meadowlark” from “The
Baker’s Wife,” which he sung in both French and English. After the song,
he promised the audience that “Meadowlark” would be the last song sung in
French that night.
Schwartz sort of gave a clinic on writing
music for the stage or screen, as he introduced almost every song by
explaining how it came about. For example, while discussing writing music
for the Disney movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Disney sent him to
Paris and arranged for him to get into the Notre Dame Cathedral before the
tourists, where he took in the ambiance and wrote lyrics.
The friends turned out to be Chicago native
Liz Callaway, who has performed in a number of Stephen Sondheim
productions on Broadway, as well as “Miss Saigon” and tenor Scott Coulter.
The three of them ran through a series of
Schwartz compositions either in unison duet or trio. Coulter even played
piano on a couple of songs. Callaway and Coulter had lovely voices, but
Schwartz, though being a fine pianist and songwriter, has just a mediocre
voice at best.
The three of them performed songs from a
cross section of the projects that Schwartz has been associated with
including his latest hit show, “Wicked.”
The audience was rather small, but very
enthusiastic, as they would cheer whenever they recognized a song. The
three performers were given a standing ovation and came out for two
encores. Afterwards the three of them came out front, signed autographs
and posed for pictures.
The second show at the California Theatre
was Bernadette Peters. Peters has been around since the late '60s putting
her own special stamp on musical theater. This has brought her Tony Awards
and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has added author to her
resume, as she has written two children’s books. She still remains a
performer at heart and brought her current tour to the California Theatre
of the Performing Arts.
From the moment she hit the stage, Peters
was teasing, playing and flirting with the audience. She came out in the
audience a couple of times. One time she was talking with one patron and
was heard to say, “You want to give me a note after the show? It seems
like you already told me everything.”
Peters explained that she had been in the
area before, as she had relatives that used to live here. She complimented
the California Theatre and thanked the audience for supporting it. She
also thanked the audience for their response. At one point, she remarked
that “Will Rogers left a lot of energy in this venue.”
of the songs that Peters performed included “Let Me Entertain You” from
“Gypsy,” “There Ain’t Nothing Like A Dame” from “South Pacific,” “When You
Wish Upon A Star,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”
When she performed Little Willie John’s
“Fever,” she played with the lyrics a little bit. When she got to the
lyrics about Romeo and Juliet, she sang as if it were written in
Shakespearian prose using words like “forsooth” and such.
For her children’s books, she wanted a
lullaby to go along with them. She claimed to have never written a song,
but one came into her head fully written. She calls it “Kramer’s Song”
after her dog and she performed it.
She would often introduce her orchestra
members while the audience was still applauding so she was usually drowned
out. She did introduce the whole orchestra when the audience was quiet.
Cubby O’Brian, one of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers, is her
drummer and has been so since at least 1997, which is the last time we
caught her in concert. Also still with her from that time is musical
director Marvin Laird.
Bernadette Peters is a consummate
performer. She demonstrated the talent and savvy that has kept her working
in the theater all these years and which earned her two standing ovations
at The California Theatre.
Peters was selling CDs and books at the
show. The profits went to help shelter animals.
Upcoming shows at the California Theatre
include the San Bernardino Symphony performing "Power Unleashed" on the
5th, Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat the 11th Charo the 12th, Michael Londra
the 18th, John Tesh the 20th and The Blues Brothers Show from the 25th –
27th. For tickets or more information go to
www.theatricalarts.com or call
Next up alphabetically is that little
dinner theater in Claremont California. When most people think of the show
“Phantom of the Opera,” the first thing that comes to mind is Andrew Lloyd
Webber’s take on the classic story. His is not the only version. Around
the time he was preparing his “Phantom” in England, Maury Yeston and
Arthur Kopit were putting together their own version in the United States.
Webber got his produced first and it was an instant sensation. Yeston and
Kopit shelved their production until Kopit saw Webber’s production. He
realized that his and Yeston’s take on the story was so fundamentally
different from Webber’s that there was no reason for them not to produce
their own version.
This version was first produced as a
two-part televised mini-series without the music. In January of 2001, it
premiered as a musical in Houston, Texas. This version of “Phantom” has
the distinction of having been the most often produced musical that never
played Broadway and it is also the current production at Candlelight
Pavilion Dinner Theater in Claremont, California.
Based on the novel, “The Phantom Of The
Opera” by Gaston Leroux, the story follows the exploits of a young singer,
Christine Daee, who joins the Paris Opera Company. The company has just
been taken over by a couple who inherit the opera house and company. The
wife of this couple, Carlotta, sees herself as a diva, but can not carry a
tune. She buries Christine in wardrobe. Erik, who lives in the catacombs
under the opera house, hears her sing and gives her vocal lessons. Erik
wears a mask to hide the disfigurement of his face and is known to
everyone else as the “phantom of the opera.”
first act of the musical is played more as a farce, as Carlotta’s obvious
shortcomings are made painfully aware to her by the reviews in the Paris
newspapers. Carlotta’s sabotage of Christine’s debut sets up the second
act where the Phantom kidnaps Christine and takes her to his catacomb home
to protect her while taking his revenge on Carlotta.
Colton California’s Emily Lopez is
Christine. She has a marvelous voice and is a fine actor. She is 17 years
old, but has such a talent that she performs well beyond her years.
Jordon Lamoureux is the Phantom. He is a
fine actor, but occasionally had problems with the range of the music.
Karnessa Legear is Carlotta and has one of
the most difficult roles because singing off-key on purpose can sometimes
be more difficult than singing on key. She brings just the right amount of
pomposity and buffoonery to the role. When not purposely singing off-key,
she actually has a very fine voice. She is one of the youngest actresses
we have ever seen tackle this role.
The show is just a delight. It will be
presented through March 27th. The price of admission includes salad, warm
rolls, entrée, the show and sales tax. Appetizers, beverages, desserts and
gratuities are extra. Ticket prices range from $48-$68, while admission
for children runs between $25-$30. Call 909-626-1254, Ext. 1 for ticket
information or go to the Web site at
Last but not least is San Manuel Indian
Bingo and Casino in Highland, California.
The 1970s was a diverse decade musically.
There was some bad (disco) and some good (rock and funk). Some of the best
purveyors of rock and funk during the '70s recently made a stop at the
casino. To be specific, War and Tower of Power visited the Yuhaviatam
Tower of Power (TOP) was first and are
celebrating 43 years as a band, having formed in 1968. Their set started
out energetic and took off from there. They moved seamlessly from song to
song and never let up.
Original members Stephen “Doc” Kupka and
Emilio Castillo have kept the TOP horn section in fine shape even with all
the numerous lineup changes they have gone through. Lead singer Larry
Braggs handled the songs with style and energy. Bass player Rocko Prestia
and drummer David Garibaldi worked together like a well oiled machine as
they moved the music along at breakneck speed. The whole band was filled
They set the tone by starting with “We Came
To Play” and continued with such TOP favorites as “Soul With A Capitol S,”
“What Is Hip?,” “Don’t Change Horses (In The Middle Of The Stream),” “So
Very Hard To Go” and “You’re Still A Young Man.”
During “Diggin’ On James Brown,” they
segued into a James Brown medley with Larry Braggs doing an amazing
impersonation and then finishing the original song. During “You’re Still A
Young Man,” when they sang “Down on my knees,” the band all got down on
When they left the stage, the audience gave
them a standing ovation and begged for more, but unfortunately they only
had time for one encore.
Now it was time for the headliner, War.
Lonnie Jordan, the only original member, started the show by telling the
audience, “Take a trip with us as we play War music.”
started the set by having the audience sing the first song. Then he
pretended to be disappointed in their rendition, “You said you knew it!”
He went to his keyboard and said, “This is how it goes.”
When they went into “Slippin’ Into
Darkness,” it started with a long drum roll. Jordan played around with the
song, such as showing off his vocal chops by holding a note for an
extended period of time. Jordan told the crowd his age and how War has
weathered many decades.
“Cisco Kid” and “Me And Baby Brother” had
the crowd bobbing their heads and clapping along.
“All Day Music” and “Low Rider” were used
as vehicles to let every member of the band take a solo and stretch out a
It seems like every time we see War, they
have turned over band members. This night it seemed that Jordan Marcos
Reyes on percussion, Stuart Ziff on guitar and Sal Rodriguez on drums were
the holdovers from the last time War performed in Highland.
War was received very well by the crowd,
but Tower of Power stole the evening.
Other shows coming to San Manuel include
Jenni Rivera March 10th, Kenny Loggins March 24th, Shaquille O’Neal
presents All Star Comedy Jam with D L Hughley, Bruce Bruce, Deray Davis
Aries Spears and Arnez J March 31st. Call the San Manuel Indian Bingo and
Casino box office at 888-777-7401 Ext. 2832 or go to the Web site at
www.sanmanuel.com for more
OK, moving on, The Palm Springs Follies is
moving on from Leslie Gore’s party to the Four Prep’s trip to Catalina
Island. Leslie Gore’s last day is the 5th. In addition to the usual
marvelous song and dance of the Follies, The Four Preps take up residence
as special guests from March 8th – May 15th. Tickets and information are
available at www.psfollies.com.
Speaking of Catalina Island, one of our
favorite spots to go and relax, on the 13th they have an Island Marathon
and on the 17th the El Galleon is having a St. Patrick’s Day party. Come
to think about it, Catalina might be the perfect place to celebrate St.
Patrick’s Day because if you get too drunk you don’t have to worry about
driving home. For more information on any of their events go to
At the National Orange Show in San
Bernardino is holding “Beyond Wonderland,” a festival that takes you down
the rabbit hole and entertains you with music, art and acrobatics. The
last word we heard is that it is sold out. Call 909-888-6788 for more
information on this and other events.
At Caltech in Pasadena, the Beckman
Auditorium will host James Bock on the 9th, Scumann Trio the 20th,
Mudbound the 25th and the Roachmobile the 26th. For more information call
888-2CALTECH or go to the Web site at
The Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho
Cucamonga presents “The Man Who Came To Dinner” on weekends from the 5th –
13th, acappella singing group M-Pack the 25th, and the Jason Bishop Magic
Show the 26th. For information on these and other upcoming shows, call the
box office at 909-477-2752 or go to the Web site at
The Fox Events Center in Redlands will host
local rock bands on the 3rd, 17th and 31st, Warren Taylor’s Comedy and
Musical Revue is on the 10th, a St. Patrick’s Eve party on the 16th and
from the 24th – 27th the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged".
Call 909- 528- 0255 or go to
www.foxeventcenter.com for more information. Tell the Duchess hi!
the Fox in Riverside on the 11th, Gary Mullen and the Works will be doing
One Night of Queen, Benise is on the 12th, Canadian Tenors the 13th, Wanda
Sykes the 25th, Chris Botti the 26th and Scott Stapp, former lead singer
of Creed, on April Fools Day. Call 951-779-9800 or go to the Web site at
The Wiltern has Royksopp the 29th, and
Rebelution on 4/1.
At the House of Blues Anaheim at Downtown
Disney, find Phil Shane and the Hot Damn Band on the 2nd, Degeneration X
and Nearvana the 3rd, Adicts and others on the 4th, House of 80’s the 5th,
Club Lucky the 9th, Star Off Machine and others the 11th, Dance Gavin
Dance, Iwrestledabearonce and others the 12th, Just Like Priest the 16th,
The Street Dogs the 17th, Ramon Ayala the 18th, House of Pain and Big B
the 19th, the return of Club Lucky the 23rd, Katchafire the 24th, The
Ready Set the 25th, the WILDest Show on the Planet the 26th, Good
Charlotte and others the 27th and The New Limb April 1st.
At the House of Blues Sunset Strip enjoy
Soja and others on the 4th, Adicts and others the 5th, Steel Panther will
be there four times on the 3rd, 14th, 21st and 28th (it must be Steel
Panther month), Game on the 11th, Parkway Drive and others the 12th,
Umphrey’s McGee on the 17th, House of Pain and Big B the 18th, Black Veil
Brides the 23rd, Further Adventures of the Saw Brothers the 24th,
Katchafire the 25th, Good Charlotte and others the 26th and
rapper-turned-television-producer Ice Cube the 30th.
Eric Clapton comes to the Gibson
Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk for two nights the 8th and 9th. Other
acts coming in March include George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic the
18th, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers and All Star Weekend the 20th and
Paquita Del Barrio the 26th.
www.livenation.com for more information about these and other shows.
At the gorgeous Cerritos Center for the
Performing Arts you have another opportunity to catch "Spamalot" from the
4th - 6th, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Sonny Gerici of the Outsiders,
Dennis Tufano of the Buckinghams and Ron Dante of the Cufflinks and
Archies pop up on the 11th, Taiko 2.0 is on the 12th, The Lennon Sisters
are the 13th, One Night of Queen the 14th, Phildanco the 18th, the
musical "Ticket To Ride" the 19th, Andre Watts the 23rd, Hei-Kyung Hong
the 26th, Its Magic the 27th and the John Jorgenson Quintet rounds things
out on the 30th. The ticket office phone number is 562-916-8500 if you
need more information.
At the Ontario Improv, Billy Gardell of the
television show “Mike and Molly” is there on the 4th and 5th, Shawn and
Marlon Wayans are there from the 10th – 13th, Guy Torry from the 17th –
19th and Jeff Garcia returns from the 24th – 27th. April 1st finds Cedric
the Entertainer taking the stage. Individual night shows include Refried
Wednesday on the 2nd, Scruncho the 3rd, Earthquake the 6th, Big Mike
Mitchell the 8th, Trish Guinn the 9th, Chicano Kings of Comedy 15th, Dirty
Show with Cory and Chad the 16th, Rob Stapleton 20th, Blowout Comedy the
22nd, Aurelio Bocanegra the 23rd, Adam Richmond the 29th, Spicy Latino
Night the 30th and DJ Cooch and Friends the 31st. Call 909-484-5411 or go
to the Web site at www.improv.com for
tickets or more information.
presents “Avenue Q” through the 6th and on the 9th will present “Disney’s
Beauty And The Beast” through the 26th at the Pantages Theatre. For
tickets call 800-982-2787, go to the Pantages box office or go to
Center Theatre Group continues presenting
“33 Variations” starring Jane Fonda at the Ahmanson Theatre through the
5th. At the Mark Taper Forum “Burn This” will start on the 23rd and run
through May 1st. Go to
www.centertheatregroup.org for more information.
The Grove of Anaheim has Escape the Fate on
the 11th, California Metal Fest Five the 19th, Kenny Loggins the 25th, and
the afore mentioned Ice Cube April 1st. Go to
www.Nederlander.com for more
The Orpheum will be the site of talent show
auditions. The 10th and the 11th will be "America’s Got Talent" and the
12th is "So You Think You Can Dance."
At Nokia LA Live is Julieta Venegas and
Cecil Bastida on the 5th, Motorhead on the 11th, Espinosa Paz for two
nights on the 18th and 19th, Lucero returns on the 26th and Shin Seung Han
Show the 27th.
At Club Nokia is Lords of Acid the 2nd,
Brazilian Carnaval Exotica the 5th, Stryper the 9th, Hard Weekend and
others the 12th, Devo the 19th, Seth McFarlane the 26th, Kem the 30th and
Dierks Bentley April 1st.
At the Staples Center in between basketball
games is Juanes on the 13th and Lady Gaga on the 28th.
Three days later, Lady Gaga moves over to
the Honda Center in Anaheim on the 31st.
There is also an interesting show at
Angel's Roadhouse in Yucaipa when Missing Persons come in on the 5th.
At Citizens Business Bank Arena between
hockey games, watch the United States Synchronized Skating Championship
from the 3rd – 5th, Rock and Worship the 10th, and Nuclear Cowboys the
25th and 26th.
The Queen Mary will present the Queen
Victoria and Queen Mary rendezvous the 3rd. Tibbies Cabaret continues to
have their dinner theater on board. Through May they are presenting “New
York City Rhythm." For more information go to
www.queenmary.com or call
At Disneyland, the façade of It’s a Small
World in Disneyland park is being transformed each night into a display of
moving, ever-changing photography, video, animation and music, as
Disneyland celebrates guests’ memories with an innovative new show – “The
Magic, The Memories and You!” Southern California residents have a new
offer at the Disneyland Resort this year, guests can purchase a Disneyland
Resort 2-day ticket for just $99, with their choice of one park per day –
either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park. With the new
ticket, guests get the flexibility to visit any two days between now and
May 14, 2011. Speaking of Disney’s California Adventure, visitors can go
to the Blue Sky Cellar. In the Blue Sky Cellar screening room, a new,
bird's-eye view painting of Disney California Adventure comes to life with
projected animation that will delight guests with fun surprises. An
updated film presentation features Disney Imagineers describing their
work, along with footage of model-making, sculpting, “blue sky” meetings
and all the aspects of bringing a Disney concept to life. For detailed
information about the Disneyland Resort, please visit www.disneyland.com
call 866-60-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.
SeaWorld San Diego and Universal Studios
Hollywood are continuing their buy one day and get 2011 for free.
Well that should keep you for a while. Talk
to you next month with hopefully warmer weather.