By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor
TWO BOWL NIGHTS
This past week I’ve had the pleasure of being at my summer venue, The Hollywood Bowl, enjoying the talents of Dolly Parton (July 22), James Ingram (July 27) and Gladys Knight (July 27). I was lucky in that both evenings were balmy and my hooded sweat shirt kept me warm.
My bench seat (at the Dolly Parton concert) was comfortable as we got there early enough to purchase pads (now $1) and I have plenty of padding of my own. At the James Ingram and Gladys Knight concert I was furnished a box (what a way to enjoy the Bowl) by the LA Philharmonic.
Those deck chairs are great! My friends and I parked at the Ventura Lot. Using the shuttle is only $4 round trip. The buses run frequently beginning 2-1/2 hours before a concert. And, I find on the return trip you’re not in line more than 10 minutes, even in a sold-out concert. I’d like to compliment the young people who oversee the boarding the buses at the Bowl. They are, without doubt, very courteous.
Was I glad that I was part of the sold-out Hollywood Bowl audience. Dolly Parton is a great all-around entertainer. Besides singing she can play a variety of instruments- fiddle, banjo, guitar, and even a saxophone. It was one of those evenings when 18,000 stayed until the very end. I observed many fans wearing, in tribute to Dolly’s Country-Western musical background, C-W dresses, boots, hats, fringed vests, blue jeans, buckskin fringed vests, etc. The lights had dimmed, the stage darkened and then we heard her singing “Light of a Clear Medly,” “Walkin’ on Sunshine” and “Shine Like the Sun.” As she came further onstage, you could see and hear her playing a mean fiddle accompaniment.
During the evening she would chat a little about her family, her childhood, her love for her father, her years with Porter Wagoner and then segue into songs like “Appalachian Memories” and her first million-selling “Son of a Preacher Man.” She even shared with us a little about a new movie she had just completed which also starred Queen Latifah. The audience roared with laughter as Dolly did a rap number, “Queen Rap” in tribute to her co-star’s fame as a rap singer.
I was touched by her “Together You and I” and the back screen showing people of all colors and ages standing and holding hands together. The second half saw Dolly Parton dressed in a formfitting white sequined western shirt and pants that showed off her best features. Among the numbers “Best of Both Worlds,” “The Sacrifice,” “Here You Come Again,” and concluding with the popular “9 to 5.” Of course, Dolly could not go off-stage until she had sung her mega hit, “I’ll Always Love You.” She ended her concert with a reprise of “A Better Day” and Light of a Clear Medley.” Whether it was gospel, country-western, rap, or ballad Ms. Parton really had the audience in the palm of her well-manicured hand. It was one great big love-fest.
JAMES INGRAM AND GLADYS KNIGHT
I have quite a record collection that I began when I was a freshman at Fairfax High School, and which I treasured until recently when I gave it to my eldest grandson. Among my collection is “A Midnight Train,” one of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ best-selling hits. So, way back in March when I received the Hollywood Bowl brochure and saw that she was going to be headlining a Wednesday Jazz Night, I knew I would be there. And, on this Wednesday night I was.
Multi-Grammy winner James Ingram held forth during the first-half of the evening. He opened the evening with his hit, “100 Ways.” We had an evening of funk, soul, R & B, adult contemporary and even inspirational songs like “Just Once,” “How Do You Keep the Music,” “Baby Come to Me,” the sentimental “Somewhere Out There,” and ended with the rollicking “Yah Mo Be There.” Gladys came out wearing a beautiful white flowing pant suit and singing her hit, “Love Overboard.”
She shared with her audience that she is a romantic at heart and followed that statement with “If I Were Your Woman.” During the evening you could see why she won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album in 2002 with her rendition “Grape Vine.” It was a truly remarkable night.
JOLSON AT THE WINTER GARDEN
If you’ve seen the movie, “The Jolson Story” on Turner Classic Movies or were fortunate enough to have been there, Al Jolson would perform at Sunday night concerts in the noted New York Theatre, “The Winter Garden.” At the historic El Portal Theatre inNorth Hollywood, Jolson will be resurrected in the form of Mike Burstyn who will be starring in “Jolson at the Winter Garden,” a recreation of his famous Sunday night concerts.
It will be directed by Bill Castellino fromSeptember 6 to 18, 2011. You’re going to see and hear some of Jolie’s biggest hits, “Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye,” “Swanee,” “Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody,” Sonny Boy,” “April Showers,” and many, many others Jolson made popular during his years as Broadway’s number one musical star. It’s no secret why the Warner Brothers chose Jolson to star in their first talkie rather than George Jessel who had starred in the show on Broadway.
Performance schedule: Tuesdays to Saturdays at8:00 pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm. Ticket Prices: $60; Sides $35- $50. To purchase tickets go online to ElPortal.com or call (866) 811-4111.
The historic El Portal Theatre is located at5269 Lankershim Blvd., NorthHollywood,CA91601. Also coming to the El Portal Sally Hughes will be starring in “A Sentimental Journey – The Story of Doris Day.” Presented by The Mill at Sonning Theatre,Oxfordshire,England, this fabulous musical drama based on the life and songs of the legendary Doris Day. “A Sentimental Journey” comes directly from the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and a successfulLondonrun.
With Ms. Hughes as Doris Day, the audience is in for a treat listening to Ms. Day’s hits, “Deadwood Stage,” “Secret Love,” “Que Sera Sera,” and many others. Preview performances: November 2-4; Opening Night Saturday, November 5 and runs Wednesdays-Sundays through November 20. Tickets” Previews: $35 all seats; regular performance $50 Center Section, Side Section $40.