Goodbye to 2011 …

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Welcome to 2012 and its endless, unknown experiences and opportunities. Another year has come and gone…. As always it offered joys, sorrows, challenges, triumphs, surprises, the passing of many loved ones and new births of others. As usual we will greet the new year with well-intended “vows” to improve our lives and habits. Good luck with that … and Happy New Year to all!

Bananas! A Day in the Life of Josephine Baker

Sloan Robinson starring in “Bananas!”

A rousing and highly entertaining one-woman show, I enjoyed every moment of this one! Loaded with history, humor, recognizable songs, “food for thought,” and countless fabulous costume and wig changes … this is a mesmerizing and factual solo performance show. Allowing us to peer into the remarkable life of this “gutsy” African American vocalist, also known as “The Duchess of Europe,” we get to know this lady from the inside-out! Powerfully and poignantly written and flawlessly performed by Sloan Robinson … she has received raves and multi-awards around the country, for previous runs of this show: This diva can sing! Accompanied impressively on piano, by Aeros Pierce, while changing elaborate costumes onstage repeatedly (by Naila Sanders), she tells the story of a woman with strong beliefs … and the courage to live by them. Opening in France in 1961, in her Paris hotel suite, her journey unfolds as she speaks from the heart to a photo of her dearly departed mother. Revealing her life from her humble beginnings in St. Louis, to her international fame in France and worldwide, she shares the story of a “dynamo,” with a passion for life and equality. Her refusal to perform for segregated audiences, and her selfless adoption of 11 children from various nations with her fourth husband, prove the inner strength of her convictions. A moving retrospective slide show overhead at the end of the show, with real clips of Baker’s life, was a wonderful choice (by Leroy Richardson III). Josephine Baker was a civil rights activist, a humanitarian, an exciting performer, and a vigilant voice for African Americans! Do start off the new year, by catching this inspiring, high energy production! Dark for the holidays … it will reopen on Jan 6 and run through Feb. 29 at J.E.T. Studios located at 5126 Lankershim Blvd. in the heart of NoHo. For seats, call (818) 358-3453.

Footnote:

This is a lovely new NoHo theatre space, nestled behind the “cutting edge” NoHo Art Gallery—LA. The theatre is owned and run by actress Judith E., and the attached gallery is run by Daniel DeBevoise…. The eclectic combination here, of art and “live” theatre has a decidedly New York “vibe.” A worthy addition to the thriving North Hollywood theatrical scene … Go check it out!

It always takes a couple of weeks after the manic holidays, for theatres to offer new productions … but I have booked three promising play “openings” for review in January. In the meantime … I do hope you’ll add catching some local “theatah” to your list of 2012 New Year resolutions! Thanks also to the readers who have sent in letters of praise and appreciation of my column throughout the year. That means a lot to me!

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