All photos courtesy of Martin Girard / Costumes by Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil See enough Cirque du Soleil productions and you become a connoisseur of spectacle. Large ones, where a Monty Python heaven seems to open up above your head. Smaller ones, cozy, intimate, like a good surreal bedtime story narrated (and embodied) by Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali. Irrespective of scale, these spectacular shows recount the story of a Seeker... Read more →

Totem, Cirque du Soleil, San Pedro, CA, by James Scarborough

No seditious assaults on national governments, no sequesters, and no goddamn bickering over differences of race, creed (read: evolution), income, and sexual preference. Instead, a celebration of all creation myths, a creative respect for the planet, and a healthy dose of spectacle. In short, a circus, not a tea party. If you could amend the Nobel Prize charter to consolidate all the individual awards into one, Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem,” written and directed by Robert... Read more →

“The Nutcracker,” Long Beach Ballet, by James Scarborough

An annual dream. The holiday season. Presents bought and wrapped, trees decorated, houses lit. Kids let (or about to be let) out of school, some of whom will dream of a visit from Father Christmas aboard a gift-laden sled pulled by flying reindeer. The giddiness, the anticipation, the hope-kept-alive. Nuclear and ad hoc families convene to share joy and rapture. A sudden nightmare slaughter of innocents in Connecticut. Cancel Christmas? No, mourn and grieve, repair;... Read more →

Dralion, Cirque du Soleil, Long Beach Arena, by James Scarborough

Photos courtesy of Daniel Desmarais When you think of a Cirque du Soleil production, words like magical, awe inspiring, and stupendous come to mind. If nothing else, it launches you out of your own here-and-now into an imaginary, brightly colored, and boundless universe that doesn’t just defy gravity, it repeals its laws. Never in a million years would you associate one of their productions with words like vague, amorphous, and fibrillating. Until now that is,... Read more →

On the occasion of “Night at the Movies,” the Long Beach Symphony’s POPS! final concert of the 2008-2009 season, Guest Conductor Larry Blank cajoled us, made us swoon, and refreshed our memories with soulful, delicate, and energetic renditions of soundtracks from classic films. All of us of a certain age know what we were doing when JFK was shot. But I bet you or your Mom also remember with whom you or she first heard... Read more →

It wasn’t just funny that when Michael Krajewski, the jocular conductor of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, reached for his microphone at the beginning of “Three Broadway Divas” and it wasn’t there. It was fitting. There wasn’t much he could get in edgewise anyway given the snazz, pizzazz, and oomph of his guests for the evening, Debbie Gravitte, Jan Horvath, and Anne Runolfsson. His dry humor and the singers’ flair combined to create an evening... Read more →

In the first half of Saturday night’s performance the Long Beach Symphony POPS! moved heaven and earth. In the second half, Ben Vereen covered all the space in between. Does it get any better than this? First guest conductor David Loeb took us through the streets of New York with selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The songs require energy to capture the city’s cacophony and passion to render the love scenes. Loeb gave... Read more →