Descanso Gardens

By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor AT THE REAGAN LIBRARY On July 27, the public is invited to a Rock and Roll Summer Celebration at the Reagan Library from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. Just put on your blue suede shoes for a fantastic evening of dining and dancing to rock and roll classics performed by Ronnie and the Classics. You will be entertained by guest tribute performances by “Elvis,’ “Buddy Holly” and “Roy Orbison.” You will also be able to feast on a buffet dinner filled with your favorite classic entrees and tantalizing hors d’oeuvres.” With your purchase of your tickets, you are welcome to stroll through the library to view the Disney Official Fan Club-sponsored exhibition of “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives,” the Air Force One Pavilion and the Ronald Reagan Museum. For reservations call (804) 577-4057 or go to www. The cost is $74.95 per person (tax and gratuity included) for general admission; VIP Package $89.95 per person includes tax and gratuity. THE LAUGH PACK RETURNS In May I had the good fortune to be invited to view the Laugh Pack at the Theatre West. What a great evening of great humor! I can strongly recommend the Bruce Fineproduced show. It’s one of the best entertainment values in the city. Fine has lined up comedy stars Wendy Liebman, Dwayne Perkins, Brian Scolaro, Laurie Kilmartin, Brian Kiley, Eric Edwards, Roger Kabler, vocalist Alison Coster plus other surprise guests. For only $28 in advance (or $32 at the door), you will receive a buffet of appetizers The Laugh Pack, created by Bruce Fine, is being presented by Theatre West. GET DIRTY at Descanso Gardens The Descanso Gardens (pictured below), a Los Angeles County-owned destination, is pleased to offer free admission to guests on the third Tuesday of each month. On the third Tuesday of July (July 17) at 2:00 p.m. the furnished by Chipotle Studio City and two free beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., appetizers and beverages are available from 6:45 p.m. and at intermission. Advance tickets and information are available at or the Theatre West box office at (323) 851-7977. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles. Free parking is available in the lot directly across the street. Descanso will introduce a new garden lecture series — also free of charge – – appropriately titled “Get Dirty.” Descanso Gardens Director of Horticulture Brian Sullivan will demonstrate how to create small-scale gardens, “patio-escapes,” gardens for tiny spaces and even vertical gardens that climb up walls. The series will continue on Tuesday, August 21 at 2:00 pm with the program “Garden Whimsy.” It will show the guests how to experiment with whimsical garden touches. Garden design guru Mike Brown will instruct you as to how to spin some magic and add charm to your garden. On Tuesday, September 28 at 2:00 p.m., “Get Dirty” presents “Vinaigrette Perfection.” You’ll watch an herb growing demonstration and see a cooking demonstration by Cafè Descanso’s very own Chef Chris Bordeur of the Patina Restaurant Group, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanson Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. PLAYS IN THE PARK On Sunday, July 8, my friend Lois Fishman and I had the pleasure of seeing a staged reading of three short plays that are called “Plays in the Park” — a name given because of where each playlet is set. First was “Park Strangers,” where a fading stage star is paired with a younger actress in a commercial. At first the older woman is hostile, but the two find what they have in common and draw closer. It was superbly acted by Susan Atch and Beege Barkette. Second, was “Swans” in which a woman wants to get married and feels that the man she’s been living with for the past three years doesn’t have the same commitment to their relationship. This was well-done by Esai Morales as the young man and Dahlia Waingort as the young woman. Lots of clever lines and witticisms about relationships in this work. The third Featured Ed Asner and Mark Rydell as two brothers, Rydell as Joey (who is well-off but feels ‘life sucks’), and Asner as Jay (his costume of tennis shorts, sneakers, a T-shirt well indicates his economic status) who are settling several issues. Over the years I had seen Ed Asner perform in several staged readings for the Celebrity Staged Readings produced by Alexandra Mora. I always see a good performance from this man. But, the last time I saw Mark Rydell as an actor was as “Jeff Baker” in the soap opera “As The World Turns,” way back in the last years of the 1950’s. He has become a very successful director with even an Oscar nomination. But, what would he be like as an actor? In this reading Mark Rydell showed he hasn’t lost the touch which made hearts flutter over “Jeff.” Well done. Sadly, Asner was leaving the show as he was going to be filming a movie. But, replacing him is George Segal on July 14 and 15 and actor-producer-director Allan Miller will take over the role of “Jay” beginning July 21st. The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, just steps from Wilshire Boulevard. Admission is $20. For schedule information and tickets call (323) 960-7788 or visit oplaysinthepark. There is a parking structure across the street, meters are only 2 hours until 2 am, and local banks offer parking in their lots for $10. Lois and I arrived a few hours early so we could enjoy some of the street entertainment on the Third Street Promenade. I recommend you do the same. RAY CHARLES: GENIUS+SOUL=JAZZ Oh, what an evening of great jazz on Wednesday night at the Hollywood Bowl. Opening the show with a few remarks was renowned PBS host Tavis Smiley. Performing the music that made Charles a household legend was the “All-Star Band.” The second half of the program was dominated by the Count Basie Orchestra. Several in their box seats jumped up and began dancing to the music. It was a real jumpin’ evening. The show opened with a Charles number, “I Got A Woman,” with BeBe Winans on the vocals and Blanchard on a trumpet solo. Oh, Golly was that smooth! Dee Dee Bridgewater (in a gold lame dress and matching gold platform shoes) and BeBe Winans teamed up to “Hallejuah I Love Her (Him) So.” The second act opened with the Count Basie Orchestra and the All-Star Band performing Ray Charles’ signature “Georgia on my Mind.” And, closing the evening was the Ray Charles version of “America the Beautiful” performed by the entire company. Gave one the chills. During the evening the video screen showed a funny Saturday Night Live skit that featured Ray Charles himself along with the late Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner and Dan Akyroyd, etc. The entire evening was one of song. Also on the vocals were Kenny “Babyface’ Edmunds, Martina McBride as well as the Raelettes- Patti Austin, Siedah Garrett, Monica Mancini, and Lynne Fiddomont. Coming to the Wednesday night Jazz Series at the Hollywood Bowl will be the Duke Ellington Orchestra and a Salute to Stan Kenton on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. For ticket information please call (323) 850-2000 or go to

By Jean Strauber

Entertainment Writer

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