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By: Jules E. Beuck

Photo By: Jules E. Beuck


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 Performing Arts.

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."

The 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 that piano.

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.”

Some 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 or call 909-885-5152.

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.”

The 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 Room.

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 with energy.

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 one knee.

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.”

Jordan 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 bit.

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 for more information.

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

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 for more information. Tell the Duchess hi!

At 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.

Go to 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 for tickets or more information.

Broadway/LA 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 www’

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 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 for more information.

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 or call 562-435-3511.

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 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.

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