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Entertainment Tips of the Week 5-14-12

By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor

There’s music in the air in the L.A. area…

The Follies

As you walk into the renowned Ahmanson Theatre during this run, you’ll look at the stage and observe the ragged bunting hanging from the proscenium, the boxes draped in the same black bunting, which is also covering all the walls. This scenery makes the theatregoer feel that he’s not only an observer but a participant. The story of the “Follies” begins when former members of the ‘Weismann Follies’ reunite on the eve of their theatre’s demolition. Two couples remember their past and face the realities of their present. Reminiscing about their younger selves and the years gone by, the run-down theatre brings back memories, both good and bad, for both couples, Ben and Phyllis, Buddy and Sally.

Kennedy Center The Follies

Lora Lee Gayer, Nick Verina, Christian Delcroix and KirstenScott in the Kennedy Center production of “Follies” at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, showing May 9 through June 9, 2012. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

During the evening you’ll hear such well-known songs as ‘Broadway Baby,” “I’m Still Here,’ “Too Many Mornings,” “Could I Leave You?” and “Losing My Mind,” the songs that reflect the life and feelings of Ben, Phyllis, Buddy and Sally, as well as Carlotta, Heidi, Solange, and Hattie, their fellow vaudevillians and their younger counterparts. My attention was riveted by Ben singing “The Road You Didn’t Take” as he ruminated about what life might have been like if he had done things differently and married Sally instead of Phyllis; Carlotta thumbing her nose at one at all with “I’m Still Here”; Hattie’s defiant “Broadway Baby”; and Sally’s plaintiff “Losing My Mind.” Costume designer Gregg Barnes deserves kudos, as does Warren Carlyle’s choreography for adding so much to the high quality of the evening’s performance.

The cast stars four-time Tony Award-nominee Jan Maxwell as Phyllis, Tony Award-winner Victoria Clark as Sally, two-time Tony Award-nominee Danny Burstein as Buddy, three-time Emmy Award nominee Ron Raines as Benjamin and Olivier Award winner Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion. Maxwell, Burstein, Raines and Paige are returning to the roles they originated on Broadway. Also returning to the roles they created are Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally, Lean Horotiz as Young Heidi, Tony Award-nominee Jayne Houdyshell as Hattie Walker, Tony Awardnominee Mary Beth Pell as Solange, Kirsten Scott as Young Phyllis, Nick Verina as Young Ben, Tony Awardnominee Susan Watson as Emily Whitman, and Terri White as Stella Deems. Wednesday, May 9, was opening night at the Broadway Revival of “Follies” at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre. At the conclusion of the final curtain there was a prolonged standing ovation for the cast and the 28-piece orchestra, who al deserved it. I could go on and on but you have to see the “Follies” for yourself. It’s no wonder that this revival of Follies has received eight Tony® awards in 2012. Tickets are available by calling (213) 972-4400, online at www. CenterTheatreGroup.org or in person at the CTG Box Office at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center.

A Blues Festival

Noted vocalist Barbara Morrison will present top talent at the First Annual Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Blues Festival on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, May 18, 19 and 20. Performers on two stages during the threeday Blues Fest include: Barbara Morrison (Festival Producer); the Sons of Rhythm with Johnny “Lucky” Otis (the grandson of rhythm and blues pioneer Johnny Otis), Richard Berry III (grandson of composer and pianist, Richard “Louie, Louie” Berry ) and Donato James (son of the legendary Etta James); Billy Foster & The Original Medallions; the Bernie Pearl Blues Band; Brother Usef and many other acts. The BMPAC is located at 4305 Degnan Boulevard, #101, Los Angeles CA, 90036. For schedule and ticket information, visit www.barbaramorrisonpac. com. or call the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center at (323) 296-2272.

The Annual Topanga Banjo-fidle Contest On Sunday, May 20 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest will take place at the Paramount Movie Ranch, 2813 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, CA 91301. At one of Southern California’s favorite bluegrass, old-time and folk music events you’ll find over 100 instrumental and singing contestants; see band playoffs at the Dance Barn; clogging, contra and square dancing with live music; whole family fun at the Eucalyptus Grove featuring Scottish Fiddlers; a fiddle workshop with Rebecca Lomicky, children’s crafts and more. On the Pavilion Stage you will find Beginner Playoffs, Kalinka Klezmer, Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band, Mike Mahaney’s Cowboy Music, Stuart Mason and John Weed. The Railroad Stage features singing playoffs, and intermediate fiddle playoffs, plus Rebecca Lomnicky and Dave Brewer (The World of Scottish Fiddle and Bagpipe Music) and Ross Altman (The Woody Guthrie Centennial). For information call (818) 382-4819, visit www. TopangaBanjoFiddl le. org or e-mail info@ topangabanjofiddle.org.

Jean Strauber

Entertainment Writer

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