A scene from “La Boheme,” playing until June 2 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Photo by Robert Millard for LA Opera.

By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor
A Memorial Day Celebration — Horace Heidt Big Band Foundation presents, in honor of  A Memorial Day Celebration –  A Music in the Park Celebration on Sunday, May 27, 2012 from 4 pm – 6 pm at the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys Memorial Park.
The Heidt Foundation will present a very special tribute to American Legion Post 193 along with a patriotic salute to all those who fought and served in order to protect the American way of life. In addition to Horace Heidt, Jr. and his All-Star Big Band, guest star Frank Stallone as well as community leaders and honored participants will attend.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair, nibbles and beverages to support those who have selflessly served our country in this afternoon of music, dancing (including a dance contest) and a ceremony honoring war veterans by participants and community leaders.
La Bohème — This timeless classic and audience favorite, La Boheme, is now being performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles County Music Center.  It has a lot of freshness which make this production so enjoyable, even if one has seen it, like me, countless of times.
First, for this production now on the Chandler stage, LA Opera brought in their tech department, their costume and wig department and, their prop department to freshen and provide the detail of 19th-century Bohemia (as the Left Bank of Paris was then known), depicted in the stories upon which Puccini based his opera.  I must also compliment the choreographer who really spiced up ACT II with Musetta ( American soprano Janai Brugger-Oman)  climbing on top of tables and riding offstage while seated on the shoulders of her admirers while they named her “Queen of the Latin Quarter.”   And, I cannot forget baritone Artur Rucinski who made his Marcello very real, especially in Act II.
Second, there’s the cast.  They are the same age as the opera’s characters —  young.  Not only do they sing well, but they can and do act as well.
I found ACT III to be staged superbly with the counterplay towards the end of the Act while Mimi (Allyn Perez)  and Rodolfo (Stephen Costello) pledge their love and remaining together (at least until the  spring) while Marcello and Musetta argue and breakup.   I also  felt the Perez’s voice in Act III was much more effective than in the first act where Costello’s voice was overpowering Allyn’s in Act I in their duet, O soave funiculla.
The supporting cast also performed well with Museop Kim as Schaunard and Robert Pomakov as the philosopher Colline with his “ode to his overcoat” a show stopper.   Adding to the evening’s entertainment
Patrick Summers, making his LA Opera debut led the orchestra in support of those on-stage without becoming all-too-powerful.  He, too, was rewarded enthusiastically by the opening night audience.
A reminder that on Thursday, May 31 at 7:30 pm, if you wish to bring your children to see this opera, their tickets are 50 percent with each adult purchase.
Performance Times:  Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at 7:30pm; Saturday, May 26, 2012, at 7:30pm; Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 7:30pm; Saturday, June 2, 2012, at 2pm. Location: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For ticket information go to www.laopera.com.
West Valley Playhouse — Artistic Director Jon Berry has announced that Squabbles by Marshall Karp will open June 1, 2012 and will play through June 30, 2012 at the West Valley Playhouse in Canoga Park.
This hilarious play pits a father-in-law against a mother-in-law in a comedic succession of squabbles.  Jerry Sloan is a successful writer of advertising jingles, married to an equally successful lawyer.  Living with them is Jerry’s father-in-law, Abe Dreyfus.  Abe may be funny to the audience, but not to Jerry.
The situation is exacerbated when Jerry’s mother comes to live with them.  Abe and Mildren can’t stand each other.
The play is one hilarious confrontation until the heartwarming finale.
Performance Schedule: Thursday performances June 7 and June 21 at 8:00 pm, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:30 pm.  Ticket prices are Adults $25; Seniors and Students $23; Group Discounts Available. To make reservations call (818) 884-1907.
The West Valley Playhouse is located at 7242 Owensmouth Avenue, Canoga Park, CA 91303.
At The Theatricum Botanicum — Heartbreak House, George Bernard Shaw’s comic masterpiece  that he wrote before World War I,  will open on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm.  (Scene pictured above.)
Young Ellie Dunn is invited to the country home of the eccentric Captain Shotover by his daughter Hesione.  Soon the family is divided over Ellie’s decision to marry for money, not love.  But, despite the brilliant debates about politics, economics, desire, war, education, religions, and science, they are all ignoring the greater cloud that is looming.
Directed by Ellen Geer, the cast features Susan Angelo, Alan Blumenfeld, Willow geer, ed Giron, Aaron Hendry, Mark Lewis, Katherine James, William Dennis Hunt, Melora Marshall and David Stifel.
Performance Schedule:  June 9, 10, 16, 17, 24; July 8, 14, 21, 22, 28; August 3, 10, 19, 31; September 2, 9, 14, 15, 22, 23, 29 and 30.
On Fridays August 31, September 7,   and  September 14, the Theatricum will serve “British Pub Grub” dinners in the theatre’s adjacent gardens at 6:30 pm, followed by an 8 pm performance.
On Fridays Aug. 31, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, Theatricum will serve “British Pub Grub” dinners in the theater’s adjacent gardens at 6:30 pm, followed by an 8 pm performan

A scene from “La Boheme,” playing until June 2 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.   Photo by Robert Millard for LA Opera.
A scene from “La Boheme,” playing until June 2 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Photo by Robert Millard for LA Opera.

ce. (Separate admission, or combination packages available.)
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Topanga Canyon, CA 90290.
For tickets/information call (310) 455-2322 or go to www.theatricum.com.

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