By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor
A NIGHT AT THE BOWL
It’s difficult to believe but the Hollywood Bowl 2011 Summer Season has ended for me. And, it concluded with a great concert — Bramwell Tovey conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening of Tchaikovsky. And, what a glorious evening it was. Bramwell Tovey provided the sold-out audience with a witty commentary about the music we were about to hear. The evening began with music from Romeo and Juliet. Christian Poltera then followed with a performance of Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra.
After intermission Bramwell led the Philharmonic in music from Swan Lake, Act IV and the evening concluded with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (along with fireworks and booming cannon), Members of the USC Trojan Marching Band performed along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Unfortunately the canyon filled with low clouds just before the fireworks began and the slight breeze caused the smoke to waft over the Bowl audience. But, no one moved from their seats nor refrain from enthusiastically responding to what we were seeing and hearing.
The 1812 Overture continues to be one of the most popular concerts and with Conductor Tovey leading our Los Angeles Philharmonic I sincerely hope that he will be at the helm next year. If so, I strongly recommend that when the 2012 Summer Season brochure arrives in your mail box you order your tickets promptly and don’t miss this outstanding program.
Don’t forget that the ever popular annual Sound of Music Sing-A-Long takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. Melissa Peterman will host the annual pre-show parade which begins at 6:00 p.m. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra will provide the music that accompanies the film. So, warm up your vocal cords for this not-to-be-missed event. For ticket information call (323) 850-2000. The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue. Park at the Ventura Park and Ride Lot just east of Vineland. Or park at the Universal Station and take the subway to Hollywood and Highland where shuttles will take you to the Bowl.
JOLSON SINGS AT THE WINTER GARDEN
Last week I provided a very brief review of the new musical “Jolson Sings at the Winter Garden” which is appearing at the historic El Portal Theatre. This week I’d like relate more of what I saw and heard. The show stars Mike Burstyn as The Mammy Singer, supported by an ensemble cast which included Jacqueline Bayne, Laura Hodosand and Wayne LeGette providing vocal back-up.
A six-piece orchestra led by Musical Director, Christopher McGovern accompanied Burstyn in those songs made famous by the famed Broadway star of the 1920s and 1930s. Mike Burstyn has long been fascinated with Jolson, from the time when he heard a Jolson record when he was a young boy. As he grew into being a professional performer, he realized how much he sounded like Al Jolson. In fact, Burstyn has stated, “The first time I heard Al Jolson sing (on a recording, of course), I was captivated by his voice. I was 11 years old and have been a fan of his ever since. I had most of his record albums and would sing along with every one of his wonderful songs. I knew them all by heart.”
While performing those songs Jolson made popular like “Swanee,” “My Mammy,” “For Me and My Gal,” “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee,” “You Made Me Love You” and others, I would deliberately close my eyes and I could not differentiate between what I was hearing and what I recalled I had heard Jolson sing in the two movies, “The Jolson Story” and “Jolson Sings Again” or on his radio shows. Included in his evening’s performance (no intermission), Mike led the audience in a sing-a-long “Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Be in Carolina” and when he sang the “Anniversary Song” he plucked Mrs. Leah Adler (Stephen Spielberg’s mother) from the audience and did a waltz step or two. Though Burstyn did not do the dance gyrations for which Jolson was noted, all-in-all I found it to be a very entertaining evening and don’t hesitate to recommend it to one and all. Cantor Nathan Lam of Stephen S. Wise Temple was in the audience. When I asked him to comment on the show, he said, “It was superb.” My guest was Lane Sherman (fellow Government Center Gazette & Van Nuys News Press contributing columnist) who thought it was “Terrific.”
“Jolson Sings at the Winter Garden” was written by Mike Burstyn and Bill Castellino; produced and directed by Dan Israely Productions and Kit Productions; Producers are Dan Israely and Zahava Atzmon. Performance Schedule: Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Matinee performances at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturday and Sundays until Sunday, September 25, 2011. Tickets: $35, $50 and $60. For tickets and further information call (877) 733-7529 or go to www.ElPortalTheatre.com. You can see a clip from the show by going to http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=zNbwTYq81k.
A drunken late night argument about morality, history and ethics careens out of control, leaving two marriages and four lives in its wake. Over the course of two demented days in a country house, this dark adult comedy asks the questions: Is it adultery if they already think you’ve done it? “Poor Behavior” is now appearing at the Center Theatre Group/ Mark Taper Forum. The cast includes Johanna Day, Sharon Lawrence, Reg Rogers and Christopher Evan Welch and is directed by Doug Hughes. The play will run through October 16th. For more information go to www.CenterTheatreGroup/ Mark Taper Forum. Valley Artists Studio Tour Once again the San Fernando Valley Arts Council host their annual Valley Artists Studio Tour on Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, 2011. During this two-day event 24 Valley artists will open their studios to the public.
Among them are Valley Village artist Evans Webb, whose vibrant portraits of the world are described by mathematics, or reflected in telescopes and microscopes; Sherman Oaks artist Susan Manders — U.S.Olympic artist with narrative expressionist paintings, limited editions, jewelry and ceramics; and Valley Glen’s Charles Knecht whose impressionistic paintings expresses the essence of romanticism in landscapes. An elegant reception featuring food, wine and live music will be held Saturday evening, October 1, from 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.
During the evening, Kathleen Sterling, publisher of the Woodland Hills-based Valley News Group publications The Warner Center News, Valley Vantage and Los Virgenes Enterprise, will be honored as the first recipient of the Sterling Award in recognition of her years of dedication and support to the Arts and Culture of the San Fernando Valley. Each artist has graciously submitted a selection of their work to be sold, with 30 percent of the proceeds donated to art education programs and scholarships for San Fernando Valley art students. Reception attendees will choose the Peoples Choice Award.
Tickets: $20 each purchased in advance, Groups of 5 or more $15 each and Children 12 and under are free. Tickets purchased at the door are $25 each. To purchase tickets go to www.sfvartscouncil.com.
THE GARDEN BEFORE
‘The Gardens’ “The Garden Before ‘the Gardens’” is a new festival that will be held at the Descanso Gardens from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2011. The festival, inspired by “Yamino-Kwiti,” a children’s book written by Donna Preble in 1940, will include “story-telling stations,” where children can listen to stories, an adventure walk, and demonstrations of Native American basket weaving. “Yamino Kwiti” tells the story of a young Tongva boy living in the “garden” that was the Los Angeles Basin before the arrival of the Spaniards. The story paints a picture of what it would have been like to live amid the oaks and rivers in the place where Descanso Gardens would one day bloom.
The festival will include: the Yamino-Kwiti Adventure Trail, a self-guided story walk through the Gardens that will immerse you in the world of people who lived here hundreds of years before us; Passport to the Wild, during which children listen to a story and receive a passport stamp at “story-telling stations”; a Basket Weaving Demonstration: from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Oak Grove, presented with demonstrations by the California Indian basket Weavers Association; and Native Plant Uses: at 10 a.m. in Maple and the California Garden. Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. Call (818) 949-4200 or visit descansogardens.org for more information.