|4 entries found. Viewing page 1 of 1.
|July 13, 2012 |
| Fun, Feathers and Free Food! |
|Posted By Brittany |
Two words: Pear Manhattans.
Wait. I can't start a blog like that.
Three words: Hot Welsh Bartender.
I had been looking forward to Wednesday for a long time. Two whole weeks in fact. I had tickets to The Theatre! And I was to be accompanied by my friend Jahcobie (another alum of Cal Arts) and we were both looking forward to seeing La Cage Aux Folles at The Pantages Theatre. It was going to be a night of drinks, drag queens and sparkles. At 6, he picked me up from DHHQ
 in the COCOMobile. (not pictured: His amazing vanity plate "JACOCO<3") and we were off! First stop: nourishment and libations! We chose St. Felix, on N. Cahuenga and Selma. This is where the Pear Manhattans and HWB
 make their triumphant return!
St. Felix is a charming little bar/restaurant with a pretty great (for Hollywood) happy hour. $5 slider and taco plates. 1/2 off all beer, wine and specialty cocktails, ("Let's get fancy!" - me "Let's get that bartender's phone number!" - Jacoco). It has a low-key yet upscale ambiance, and while the clientele and wait staff were all a bajillion times hipper than me, they seemed unperturbed by my presence and I got to pretend like I was hanging out with the cool kids for once.
Pictured: Kobe Slider. (Sadly) Not Pictured: HWB.
Jahcobie ordered the Short Rib Slider (the happy hour special comes with one slider and a side of delicious sweet potato fries) and I ordered the Kobe Beef. We both ordered Pear Manhattans to start. The bartender accidentally brought us both short rib sliders, but realized his mistake half-way to where we were sitting at the bar, so I ended up with 2 juicy sliders for the price of one! (One more reason for my fondness of HWB: free food.) The Kobe beef slider was topped with bacon, grilled onions and bleu cheese and it took all my self control not to try and fit the whole thing in my mouth. The short rib slider was tangy and had enough spice to keep Jahcobie happy but didn't set my mouth on fire. (I am a big wimp when it comes to spicy food. I never understood how burning was supposed to be a good thing. Fire = bad, Smokey the Bear taught me that.) The pear manhattans were super strong but super smooth and yummy, and we followed them up with two Chocolate Roux's (chocolate vodka, white chocolate liqueur, butterscotch, banana and chocolate swirls, topped with cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg) for dessert. Heaven. Heaven in my mouth. All the heavens, they went in my mouth.
And then it was time for La Cage!
So, having both of my degrees in theater means I have to do my darndest not to turn this into ten page performance studies paper. I have to turn the "critical-theory-avante-garde-socio-politcal-analysis" dial down just a little. It's a broadway musical! It's about drag queens! It was written in 1983! It's starring George Hamilton! It's not Shakespeare or Chekov. But, culturally and historically, it is significant and that's worth discussing.
La Cage Aux Folles was originally a French play, written by Jean Poiret in 1973, which was then adapted into a film of the same name in 1978. Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman then wrote an American musical adaptation of the French play in 1983. It's most well known incarnation is 1996's The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman. It tells the story of Georges and Albin, a gay couple that own a drag club in St. Tropez. Georges is the producer and Albin is "Zaza," the star of the show. The plot centers around the return of their son (Jean Michel, the product of Georges one youthful dalliance with a woman.) who is engaged to the daughter of an über-conservative politician whose re-election campaign platform is to shut down St. Tropez's drag clubs. Jean Michel asks Georges to redecorate his home, pretend to be straight, and send Albin away. But just for one night so that his fiancé doesn't lose her dowry. High jinks ensue when his biological mother doesn't show and Albin appears (in drag) in her place.
At the time it was produced it was the first big Broadway musical about gay characters, gay themes, AND a happy ending for all. It came out right when the AIDS crisis in America was reaching a frenzied peak of fear and homophobia. Albin's defiant song at the end of Act 1: "I am what I am" became a rallying cry of the LGBTQ movement. And did I mention it had a happy ending? No suicides, no beatings, no tragedy. The selfish jerk son learns to not try and hide/change his parents
, the conservative jerk senator learns to not be close minded and hateful, the kids get to marry and Georges and Albin have a renewed sense of love and pride. THAT'S A BIG DEAL FOR 1983. That's a big deal for now. It's a heartwarming and silly and fun and has a message. But, it's also depressing. It makes me sad, that we as a culture (and a country) still need to hear it. We are making great strides, but we still have a long way to go. I wish this show could be viewed as an artifact. Or a piece of history. Something to remind us of how far we've come. But sadly, it's still relevant. We still need to be reminded about love, acceptance, and having pride in who we are, no matter what our sexual preference is.
I could go on for pages and pages, but I'll put my internet soap box away for now, because it's time to discuss the actual performance!
You walk up to the Pantages and a near 7 foot dall drag queen is outside welcoming audience members or "patrons" into the "club." She struts around cracking jokes, taking "reservations" down on her clip board, and setting a fun and sassy atmosphere. Ten minutes before curtain, she takes the stage and becomes a sort of MC/audience "warm up guy" - which is quite an impressive feat for a 2,000 seat theatre still being filled by chatty audience members.
And then the play begins! Georges, played by George Hamilton, introduces "La Cagelles" (the drag queen chorus) as well as life with Albin (played by Christopher Seiber
), his partner of 20 years. Feathers and jokes fly with fun abandon as La Cagelles sing "We Are What We Are." Seiber is sharp and funny and George Hamilton is charming (even if his face does look the same from the front row of the orchestra as it does from the back of the mezzanine) - however, he is not a strong singer and he has A LOT of songs to sing (hello, he's the lead.) The pacing is also glacial. I'm not sure if that was the structure of the two acts (basically all the action gets crammed into the second half of the second act) or working out opening night kinks but it dragged. (Heh heh, get it? Sorry, I will never do that again.
) Still, when Seiber defiantly belts out "I Am What I Am" at the close of Act One and storms out through the audience I was moved.
The pace picks up in the second act, but some of the jokes don't quite seem to land, partly because of the delivery and partly because they haven't aged too well. I was also bothered by the vagueness of the design and the accents. They kept it set in the late 70's - early 80's, sort of. Jean Michel (the son) is in flared polyester pants and wide collared shirts, but everyone else was dressed contemporarily, and come on we are dealing with drag queens here. You could go to TOWN with some French 80's fabulousness. And the accents! Some characters had French accents and some did not! Also, if you're not using the French accent why are you still saying "papa" with one? I love musical theater, and thusly am willing to take some leaps of faith as an audience member - such as characters bursting into elaborate song and dance numbers, but inconsistency pulls me right out.
Structurally, it is quite uneven and everything gets resolved a little too hurriedly at the end. Also, the action hinges on making sure Jean Michel's fiancé get's her dowry. DOWRY? In 1983? Was France really still that entrenched in the feudal system? Script-wise, why not just change it to inheritance? Anywho. Overall, it's still a fun, heart-warming show with an important message that is actually appropriate for all ages. Despite my cantankerous inner critic I had a blast. So now its time for catchy slogans! Fabulous fun for the whole family! Get merry with marabou! Ham it up with Hamilton! Don't be a drag, have a ball! Hot Welsh Bartender!
|Continue reading "Fun, Feathers and Free Food!" » |
|Permalink | Comments(0) |
|December 02, 2011 |
| Wicked |
|Posted By Trevi |
I was raised in a family that REALLY likes The Wizard of Oz. We do not own a copy and watch it sometimes. No, we own an old VHS, a new VHS, and a limited edition DVD that came in a Yellow Brick Road box set with a reproduced copy of the script, a book about the making of the film, and a commemorative wristwatch. And when we come across it on television we shout to each other from the other room, "
The Wizard of Oz is on!!!!" as if we have no other means by which to watch it. As a child,
The Wizard of Oz often acted as my babysitter. I'm an only child so when my mother was cooking in the kitchen or working in another room, I'd get to watch
The Wizard of Oz. I'm fairly certain that was the genesis of my recurring chased-by-tornadoes nightmare. We literally had a family viewing party (all 10 or so of us) at my parent's house to see if
The Dark Side of the Moon really
does match up (note: it totally does and it's awesome). We're the kind of people who think it's not just normal but expected to exclaim, "How 'bout a little
fire, Scarecrow!" whenever anyone lights a match.
I'm not afraid of anything...except a lighted match.
Needless to say, when I was graciously invited to attend opening night of Wicked at the
Pantages Theatre on December 1
st, I figured I should take my mother and make a night of it.
I left the Discover Hollywood office and met my mom at Off Vine, a little bungalow of a restaurant that is, quite literally, off Vine St. It was adorable! There are a million little white tables with fairy lights outside, but unfortunately it was way too cold to sit on the porch. Luckily it was nice and toasty inside, and charmingly decorated with wreaths and lights for the holidays.
The New American menu is impressive, with entrees like Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Ravioli, Braised Short Ribs, and Wild Atlantic Salmon topped with sautéed garlicky veggies. Astoundingly-to me, anyway-they have an entire vegan section on the menu! I tried the Pistachio Encrusted Vegan Chicken. Much to my dismay I'm allergic to nuts, so I had to nix the pistachios. The chicken is served with a (very) sweet mango sauce that I wished was a mango salsa instead, but it was still tasty. I missed the saltiness of the pistachios with it, though. The vegan garlic mashed potatoes were insanely good, and the side of green beans was seriously cooked to absolute perfection. Mom got an off-menu special: Tilapia, served with a chunky olive and veggie sauce, with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. She said the whole thing was absolute heaven. I got a glass of Pinot Grigio ($6 for a huge pour) and Mom got a cappuccino at the end of the night that looked delish. Oh and by the way, the bread is INSANITY and it comes with a little pot of fresh pesto that was immediately sopped up.
I apologize for all these terrible images,
my camera ran out of batteries and I forgot my charger
in Portland over Thanksgiving weekend!
This food was delicious though!
I want to take a separate paragraph to tell you that our waiter was incredibly sweet, funny, and seemed to genuinely care that we enjoyed our Off Vine experience. And we did! So thank you, kind sir.
Then it was off to the theatre! We parked a block or two away and, as if by design, walked right over Judy Garland's star on the Vine St. Walk of Fame.
Just as we arrived to pick up our tickets, Anne Heche and her family stepped out of their limo, greeted by a GIGANTIC crowd of paparazzi. I've never seen that scene in real life-it's mesmerizing. Everyone was silent. All you could hear was the clicking of the cameras and Heche's handler quietly saying, "Excuse us," and "Watch out." It was actually really interesting.
Anne Heche on the red carpet
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Other celebs were there, including Broadway, Television and Film favorites like Molly Ringwald, Candace Cameron Bure (who I sat one seat away from!), Kevin Sorbo, Regina King, and Patrick Warburton.
And the show was absolutely spectacular. Full disclosure: I had anticipated a little bit of cheese. But there was NONE! It was sweet and exciting and the songs were spectacular and catchy and sung to mind-blowing perfection. I'm sure you all know the basis of the show, but just in case: Wicked is the story of what happened in Oz
before Dorothy "dropped in."
Mamie Parris as Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) galumphs around the stage in true Elphaba/Wicked Witch/Elmira Gulch fashion. She has truly transformed herself into this character. But for how unrefined and antisocial she manages to act, Parris can still belt out a tune. I mean, this woman is a serious showstopper. I could not believe the notes she held, or for how long she held them.
Images courtesy of Broadway L.A. and the Pantages Theatre
Meanwhile Katie Rose Clarke flits around onstage, oftentimes stealing the scene as the sickeningly sweet and popular Glinda who you love to hate but also just love to love. Clarke's Good Witch is a brilliant Mary Katherine Gallagher/Elle Woods lovechild: blonde, brilliant, and popular, yet spastically desperate.
Separately and as an onstage team, Parris and Clarke are incredible in Wicked
. The two of them, combined with the rest of the show's amazing cast, as well as the gripping story makes this a super fun, if sometimes heartbreaking, production.
Off Vine is located at 6263 Leland Way, Hollywood, CA 90028
The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
Back by popular demand, Wicked is at the Pantages Theatre through January 29. Visit www.broadwayla.org for more information.
|Continue reading "Wicked" » |
|Permalink | Comments(0) |
|October 07, 2011 |
| Dinner and Drinks in Hollywood |
|Posted By Trevi |
I've been petsitting my grandparents' dogs in the Valley for a couple weeks now. I normally live about ten minutes away from our office at Crossroads of the World, but since petsitting began, my morning and evening commutes have stretched to about an hour an a half-each! As a result, I normally have to hurry home every day after work to get back to the house and give the dogs their dinners. Last night, though, my boyfriend, who has been very busy himself, was amazing and gave me the night "off!" We had an early dinner at
Doomie's, and then he went out to the Valley to feed the dogs so that I could meet up with a girlfriend--who I hadn't seen since she got engaged!--at
Doomie's Home Cookin', in a little strip mall on Fountain and Vine (tucked way back in the corner!), is one of the most incredible vegetarian restaurants I have ever been to. It's all vegetarian, and most menu options are vegan or can be made vegan. I'm vegetarian and Mathew is vegan, so when I found a post on QuarryGirl about it, I knew we had to try it. We picked up sandwiches from them on the way to a Dodgers game this summer and they were amazing. But when the hot food arrived at our table last night, I knew it would be even better.
My grandmother used to whip up the most incredible fried chicken known to man whenever my parents and I visited her in Oklahoma City. Having been a vegetarian for 10 years, it's been a long time since I've tasted that greasy, crispy, fried glory. But I miss it. A LOT. Obviously I ordered the vegan fried chicken without hesitation and I swear I almost cried when it arrived at the table! It came with mashed potatoes (red, with some skin on-my favorite!), corn on the cob, a dinner roll, and a small side of AWESOME coleslaw. The chicken itself was tender and-I know it sounds crazy-incredibly juicy. And the fried bit was totally Colonel-worthy: salt-and-peppery with a hint of sweetness, light, crispy, and just the right amount of greasy. I know it's been a full decade since I've eaten meat, but let me tell you: not even my Oklahoma-born meat-and-potatoes eatin' father would be able to tell the difference between it and real chicken. I was blown away! All of the sides were awesome, except the corn--it was a little overcooked. But I didn't miss it with all the rest of the food we ordered!
Mathew ordered the chicken parmesan sandwich--again, because it was just that good!--and it, of course, did not disappoint. It's big, it's sloppy, it's cheesy (he ordered vegan cheese but they have several real cheese options too)--everything chicken parm should be! Of course he got fries on the side. Before all of this, though, we ordered one of the most amazing menu options for an appetizer: vegan mac n' cheese! It sounds terrible, but this is serious stuff. They make the cheese sauce themselves, from scratch, every day in the kitchen. It's a super secret, super awesome recipe. One of vegan cheese's (many) problems stems from the difficulty it has solidifying. They usually have to add a bunch of stuff to it to make it a "block" capable of being shredded, and all that stuff makes it taste "off." The stuff they put on the mac n' cheese is strictly a sauce, though, so it thankfully doesn't have this problem. And it is AWESOME. I swear it's (almost) better than the real thing! And the noodles are cooked al dente to perfection. It's a definite must-try.
After Doomie's, Mathew went out to the Valley to test his pet allergies and I went off to Café Stella, a little French brasserie in the Sunset Junction. If you've never been here, GO. No vegan food here! But no worries, we were there for a glass of wine.
The restaurant has three spaces: an enclosed seating area and a covered patio, where lunch and dinner are served, and a small bar off to the side of the entrance. The patio stays warm when its cold outside thanks to heat lamps suspended from the ceiling. The water glasses tucked in the French armoire, the terracotta-colored walls, and the specks of greenery also add to the space's warmth. It glistens with candle light and fairy lights strung from the ceiling. We sat at the bar, which has only about 15 seats but a handful of 4-person booths are in the same space. Dinner may be ordered here as well. The bar, backed with an antique mirror, is cluttered (in an elegant, French way) with old, probably found oil paintings and French knick-knacks. It's beautiful and welcoming.
We ordered two glasses of a newly arrived white wine. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of it, but it was delicious. At seven or eight bucks a pop, it happened to be the least expensive white on the by-the-glass menu. A little steep, but it was worth every crisp, refreshing sip. Stella is not an inexpensive place to eat or drink, but it is delicious. The wines (white, red, rose, and sparkling) are all fantastic, and the food is insane (get the artichoke!) I suggest going there for special occasions or, if you really want to impress him/her, a first date. It's festive and gorgeous--in every way!
Doomie's Home Cookin' is located at 1253 N. Vine St. Suite 9 in Hollywood, CA 90038
Café Stella is located at 3932 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA 90029
|Continue reading "Dinner and Drinks in Hollywood" » |
|Permalink | Comments(0) |
|September 28, 2011 |
| A Night Out in Hollywood |
|Posted By Trevi |
Although I wasn't planning on it, Thursday night turned out to be a night full of Hollywood events!
Nyla Arslanian, the Editor of Discover Hollywood and President of the Hollywood Arts Council, was presented with a check from the
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at a mixer they held at
Tekila on Hollywood Blvd. Oscar-Nyla's husband and the Publisher of Discover Hollywood-joined her, as did Shauna-the Hollywood Arts Council Executive Director-and myself. I got a bit sweaty running (almost literally) over there from our office at
Crossroads of the World, but even walking just a few blocks in Hollywood blesses your eyes with some truly amusing sights. For example, there was a man outside a bar, wearing sneakers and talking on his phone. It seemed normal, until we realized he was wearing a Nylon skunk costume? Hey, whatever floats your boat!
Anyway, after our impromptu evening jaunt we made it to Tekila and I must say, this little annual party is lovely! I highly recommend that you go next year. We had hardly said hello to a soul before we were greeted with a GIANT tray of chicken empanadas. I'm a vegetarian so as amazing as they smelled, I didn't get to try one. Nyla, on the other hand, tried one and said it was delicious! After a few meet-n-greets with the nice folks of the Chamber, we entered the building. With our two free drink tickets, Shauna and I grabbed a couple of margaritas at the bar. Not only were they delicious, but they were strong-especially considering that they were free. We definitely left the bartenders some generous tips for treating us all so well.
We all schmoozed for about half an hour, and then they started presenting awards for the night. We got our picture taken with our check and Nyla thanked everybody. After finishing up our margaritas and chit-chats, we headed out.
My next stop was the Groundlings theatre on Melrose. I can't believe I've lived in Los Angeles my whole life and I've never been to a show at the Groundlings! (
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on Franklin is closer to me, but still!) My boyfriend and some of his fellow UCLA teacher's assistants scored group discount tickets to the Crazy Uncle Joe Show that night, so I met them all there.
The Crazy Uncle Joe Show is actually a really incredible long-form improv show-one of L.A.'s longest running!
It starts off with three suggestions from the audience, and the 7 or so comedians come up with stories based off of them. Then-and this is where the real fun begins-they begin to miraculously weave the stories together, which makes for some incredible comedy! They do this for 40 minutes straight-twice! Wow. All ten of us were literally crying with laughter the entire show, it was absolutely brilliant. Grape pickers, butchers, and police officers (the first set of suggestions) are an apparently hilarious combination!
It was nearly ten o'clock and I hadn't eaten dinner yet, so Mathew and I headed down the street to Swingers for some late night snacks with a couple of his friends.
The best word to describe Swingers is: hip. It's super hip. Hip in that it's flooded with hipsters, but also hip in the mid-century meaning of the word. Walking in, you feel as though you've walked onto the set of
, or, fittingly,
A bar wraps around the whole front of the room, and giant booths line the windows. It's sort of 1950s and 60s themed, but not overpoweringly so. And the food is awesome. I haven't been there in years and the last time I went I only got a milkshake (although I still remember how delicious it was-chocolate/peanutbutter/banana/soy milk!) This time I was getting a full meal, and my stomach was excited about it!
There are about a millionmenu options, all fairly reasonably priced ($10 to $15 for full entrees, but there's way more than that on the menu) and all delicious. And for three vegetarians and a vegan, plenty of stuff for us to choose from too. One of our friends suggested the veggie sloppy joe, but I had my eyes set on the soyrizo scramble. So glad I went with it. Two eggs (although tofu is an option) scrambled with soyrizo (veggie chorizo), blackbeans and salsa. I added plenty of hot sauce. It comes with tortillas or, as I ordered, blue corn chips. So amazing! Especially with the side of guacamole I happily globbed on top. It was incredibly satisfying. My only complaint is that I wanted a second one!
After a hearty meal and an hour or two of politics talk, we decided it was time to go home. I went to sleep feeling like I had taken advantage of the city for the first time in a long while! I recommend you go out and do the same. Enjoy!
Tekila is located at 6541 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, CA 90028
The Groundlings is located at 7307 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles, CA 90046.
Swingers is located at 8020 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA 90048
|Continue reading "A Night Out in Hollywood" » |
|Permalink | Comments(0) |
|4 entries found. Viewing page 1 of 1.