• Twelfth Night Is One Laugh After Another

    By John Farrell

    Twelfth Night is probably Shakespeare’s funniest play.

    Maybe that is because, unlike his other comedies, it is really about nothing in particular.

    It is just a simple and wholly improbable situation, a mysterious island nation that doesn’t (and pretty well couldn’t) exist, and an awful lot of jokes and comic situations. The situations have more crotch grabbing and hip-thrusting than you might expect.

    (If you read up on Shakespeare you’ll discover that that kind of comedy was his forte: only in modern productions has it been cut back because Shakespeare has become, well, sacred.)

    What You Will is the play’s secondary title, and that means “Have at You” is the Elizabethan vernacular. Gregory Cohen directs the new production at Long Beach Playhouse’s Studio Theatre which opened Sept. 6, and he takes that title — pardon us — seriously. This is as fast-paced and hilarious as Twelfth Night gets, with one joke, one funny sequence, one naughty sequence, piled on top of another, fast-paced, direct and effective, with so many laughs the audience never knew when to stop laughing.

    The story is about Viola, (Paige Sherman,) a young woman whose ship is wrecked. Her identical twin brother probably drowned. She comes ashore in Illyria and very soon decides to masquerade as a man and marry the Duke, Orsino (Mikel Wills).

    She assumes the identity of Cesario, and becomes the go-between for Orsino and his love, Olivia (Ani Maderosian). Olivia, of course, falls for Cesario too.

    Along the way Viola has to deal with that and Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch (Dean Figone as a bigger-than-life drunk) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, (the very mousy, slightly gay and over-the-top hilarious Leigh Hayes).

    And then, there is Malvolio (John Byrd), a dour character who you know will have the wool firmly pulled over his head by Maria (Loren McJannett-Taylor). There are many ways to analyze this comedy, but who cares? Leave analysis for Freudians and enjoy the very obvious sexual jokes, like the yellow stockings Malvolio dons, along with a huge cod-piece, when he thinks he gets a love letter from Olivia. Or the way Viola inflames Olivia’s love. (Is she a he or a she in Olivia’s mind?)

    The only slightly sane one in the character mix is the court jester Feste (Alex Shewchuk). Yes, he is sane and sometimes even sensible, but he has a great time making everyone else the butt of his jokes and their own lack of common sense. He has a great deal of fun getting Sir Toby and Sir Andrew in a fight with Antonio (Ramon Ochoa), the long lost brother, and even more fun when Malvolio is arrested for madness. Well, yes, he is guilty, sort of, but in this crowd who isn’t?

    There is real love here, but it is trumped or at least equaled by the physical lust everyone seems to have.

    “If music is the food of love,” as the play says in its first line, it’s tunefulness is soon forgotten (as are the frequent appearances of Amanda Hillig and Steven Shane as musicians whose services are needed less and less as the evening proceeds) as the frenzy increases. Only in the play’s last song, a titillating tale of man’s sexual life, is the music restored.

    From Sir Andrew’s entrance through the audience to Malvolio’s scream exit, return and second exit, the audience laughed and enjoyed Shakespeare’s most inspired nonsense. You’ll have a great time, too, with this Shakespearean foolishness.

    Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors, $12 for students. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through Oct. 4.

    Details: (562) 230-0564www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre
    Location: 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach


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  • Richard III: A Challenge Met

    By John Farrell

    Long Beach Shakespeare Company may be small. Its Richard Goad Theatre up on Atlantic in north Long Beach is really a converted storefront, with parking for the actors in back and a dressing room upstairs. It seats perhaps seventy when over-full.

    But Long Beach Shakespeare Company’s artistic heart is large, ambitious, seeking to produce, even in its humble circumstances, full versions of some of the Bard of Avon’s most critically acclaimed works. A few months ago it was King Lear, which featured a full and effective cast in one of the most difficult of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

    This month they did something a little less daunting, that great melodrama Richard III, memorable from several film portrayals and the relatively recent news that that king’s remains, lost when he was defeated at Bosworth field hundreds of years ago at the end of the War of Roses, had been found and re-interred in York Cathedral, as befitted a king who was on the wrong end of Tudor history.

    Richard III is not history. Shakespeare lived in a Tudor world and his story is based on the Tudor view of matters: Richard was a hunchback and a murderer who had everyone close to him killed and married the wife of a man, who he had murdered. He is evil, even a little slimy, and he is willing to tell the audience directly what he is planning and doing, how he intends to become king despite his deformity and how he intends to have love (or at least sex) even though he is unsightly. (more…)

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  • Yoga Revolution Comes to Long Beach

    By: Melina Paris Music Columnist

    Novices and yogis took over Bixby Park this past month, during Long Beach’s first Mantra Mela, a Yoga and Kirtan Festival.

    The name Mantra Mela essentially means a chanting festival and kirtan is the music. However, much more was included in this festival for the rapidly growing community of yoga devotees in town.

    Mantra Mela included yoga classes at three different stations throughout the day, an assortment of vegan, vegetarian and raw foods. There was a healing village with practitioners from Long Beach’s Sacred Roots Holistic Spa offering in part, massage, cupping and reiki and Tibetan sound healing.  A variety of vendors were on hand, including Natural Holistic Baby, The Peace Corps and book booths. Workshops happened throughout the day on ayurveda, “Art of Happiness.” There was also a Krsna Lounge with music from a mix of traditional kirtan instruments like drums, sitar, karatalas, small Indian hand cymbals and harmonium, a pump powered reed organ.

    Dharma Shakti, the owner of Yogalution Movement and Ayurveda,  produced the festival. A dedicated community servant and up and coming spiritual leader, Dharma initiated Long Beach’s Yoga on the Bluff. She has a large following of yoga practitioners who attend her free classes on the bluff.Up to 250 people gather on weekends for her classes. Dharma’s mission is to help Long Beach recognize what it has in its own community andput yoga on the map in a big way.

    “Yoga on the Bluff has always been my main vehicle and I think it will always remain my main vehicle somehow to promote that,” Dharma says. “For the longest time, people have always had to drive into Los Angeles when they want to take advanced yoga classes or see great instructors.” (more…)

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  • Was That A Glacier I Froze Next To?

    By Lionel Rolfe

    A half century or so ago, I took a trip to the top of the Sierra, where I made the acquaintance of the fragile land of delicate meadows and lakes and dramatic ice fields and glaciers just below the jagged peaks that form the spine of the Sierra.

    As I recollected my adventure, it became more and more like a dream, hyper-realistic, a place I know I could never really return to.

    There is no Trans Sierra Highway that crosses the John Muir trail along the spine of peaks anchored in the south by Mt. Whitney and in the north by Yosemite. Much of that pristine land would be destroyed if there were such a road. Some years back, the freeway bureaucracy wanted to build such a road, but luckily, wiser heads prevailed.

    The only way to get there is to hike in, carrying your sleeping bag and provisions. Physically I am no longer up to such a task and that means I will never see God’s country again, which makes me sad.

    But in my mind, there is one moment I can not lose. It was the moment I stood next to a glacier at the top of the Sierra.  (more…)

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  • iPad Scandal Continues to Implode

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Strained relationships with the school board, an acrimonious relationship with the teachers union — to say the least — and a blowing scandal surrounding a pet project may be the end of Superintendent John Deasy’s tenure with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    The negative attention the $1.3 million project, which aimed to give an “iPad for every student, teacher and administrator in the district,” has the superintendent considering whether to step down from his position.

    Tensions with the school board recently reached an impasse, Sept. 10, when Deasy decided to take off his gloves and file a public records request seeking emails and other documents involving board members, two people and 18 technology companies in a two-and-half-year period, scrutinizing their ethical relationships. The public records act requests target board members Steve Zimmer, Monica Garcia, Bennett Kayser and Tamar Galatzan. The companies include Google, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, McGraw-Hill and Microsoft, among others. An Aug. 28 request asked the same from board President Richard Vladovic and Board Member Monica Ratliff. In essence, he may be trying to prove that the board may be “calling the kettle black.” (more…)

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  • Cantinflas Shows Activism, Humanity, Inspiration of Mexico Icon

    By Cesar Arredondo, Guest Columnist

    Mario Moreno, “Cantinflas,” is arguably the greatest comedic actor to come out of the Spanish-speaking world.

    Now a new film, simply titled, Cantinflas, is running at the Cinemark at the Pike in Long Beach. The film paints a multilayered picture of Moreno. It humanizes the legend and highlights little known aspects of Moreno’s life as a film producer, screenwriter, businessman, labor activist and husband.

    Cantinflas, premiered this past August  nationwide with a limited release in U.S. cities with large Latino populations. The film is expected to open in Mexico later this month but it already has been selected as that country’s entry for the Oscar in the best foreign language film.

    Moreno was already a huge star in his homeland by the time he was introduced to American audiences with the acclaimed 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days, based on Jules Verne’s classic novel of the same title. Moreno plays the lovable Passepartout.

    Cantinflas, the movie doesn’t just aim to wring laughs from Moreno’s old material but attempts to reflect Moreno’s talent, revealing just why he was admired by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and others. Moreno’s light was bright enough to eclipse Marlon Brando for a Golden Globe in 1956 for Around the World in 80 Days. The film went on to win five Oscars, including best picture. (more…)

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  • Hot Weather, a Shortage of a Great Vision

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    These days, even sitting at your computer can leave you drenched with sweat.

    It is exactly at times like these that I wonder why we have not lined our streets with a forest of shade giving trees, open public pools at many of our city parks, or finally renovate and open the Gaffey Street pool to give relief for neighborhood children.

    The long and the short explanation of these longings is that we have hobbled ourselves with our philanthropic donation mentality and short term fixes in response to budget deficits. We also suffer from lack of a grand vision of what we can expect living in one of the largest cities in the world. After all, we are all a part of this sprawling city and region known as Los Angeles.

    Our own “village mentality” restricts us from envisioning a more sustainable, economically secure and livable city. And, government officials continually reminds us that the city or the state lack the resources for this or that project. Meanwhile, other government entities spends a half billion dollars on a single new courthouse or fritter away hundreds of millions on dysfunctional software programs. (more…)

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  • Veterans Ride 600 Miles for Fallen Brothers

    By Joseph Baroud, RLn Contributor

    Fourteen veterans, who were wounded in combat, took the Never Quit Challenge, Sept. 8 through 11. The challenge included a 600 mile jet ski course from Morro Bay to San Diego.

    In the challenge’s second year, veterans who received purple hearts stopped in Santa Barbara, Long Beach and Catalina Island. The challenge concluded on the evening of Sept. 11  at the Stone Bistro’s Liberty Center, Point Loma for a 9/11 tribute.

    “It’s great, getting back together and having that camaraderie that you don’t get in the real world — the civilian world,” said 3rd Ranger Battalion Kyle Butcher, one of the veterans who was part of the challenge.

    The prior year’s challenge took place between Key West, Fla. and New York City. Event organizer Shawn Alladio said the location change each year is what makes the competition unique.

    The event supports the Marsoc Foundation, Station Foundation, and Phoenix Patriot Foundation. All three support veterans and the families of fallen soldiers.

    It’s called the Never Quit Challenge for a reason: The waters are choppy and unpredictable, creating a greater challenge for wounded veterans. One rider was using prosthetic legs, but zero riders complained or quit. (more…)

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  • SHAWL House Adds Compassion, Pride to Harbor Area

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Maintaining a historic home is challenging and choosing to own a historic home comes with a plethora of city and state rules to abide by.

    Support for Harbor Area Women’s Lives, known as SHAWL House, has been making repairs to its neo-classical and colonial revival-style home near 9th and Centre streets. In 2000, grants from the Ahmanson Foundation, the Parsons Foundation and the Weingart Foundation helped to purchase the home SHAWL uses at 938 S. Centre St., in San Pedro.

    The house, built in 1910, was constructed in the neo-classical and colonial revival styles near an area known then as “Saloon Keepers Row.” It was once home to Henry Stieglitz, a judge, city attorney and member of the San Pedro Board of Trustees, who also was a volunteer fireman. After the Stieglitz family vacated the house, it became a boys’ home, before SHAWL made the home a women’s shelter.

    Recently, the home underwent some much needed repairs. The columns in front of the home started sinking and separating over the course of time. One day when Executive Director Laurie Whalen-Martinez arrived at the SHAWL house, on a weekend, one of the columns had sunk deeply and separated. Because SHAWL is part of Volunteers of America, she contacted that organization and asked for someone to come and look at the column. After coming to the site, representatives from the organization suggested hiring a structural engineer. (more…)

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  • Rancho is ‘Fixed’, Government is Broken:

    EPA, DHS Officials Fail To Answer Public’s Fundamental Questions at Two-Hour Meeting

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    “If this is outreach, I think you are already failing,” Kathleen Woodfield said about 30 minutes into a two-hour meeting with federal regulators at Peck Park on the eve of Sept. 11.

    Rep. Henry Waxman convened the meeting to address concerns raised by the Rancho LPG facility. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency both showed up prepared to explain their operations. But the crowd in attendance was overwhelmingly concerned with their shortcomings—and how to overcome them. Which is why Woodfield, vice president of The San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, seemed to speak for the vast majority of those in attendance.

    Waxman was not present because the House was in session, voting that day, but District Director Lisa Pinto chaired the meeting, ably keeping it from descending into chaos. However, she lacked Waxman’s legendary personal and institutional authority to put the agency representatives on the spot, as most of those in attendance clearly wanted.

    Rep. Janice Hahn’s District Director Lara Larramendi, read a statement. (more…)

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