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Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | January 23, 2014

Hello, fellow arts and entertainment seekers! I hope you took time from watching the football games this past weekend to take in some culture. I’m guilty of spending my Sunday glued to the TV, but I still made sure to reserve Saturday for a great new play I was hearing about. Read my review of “The Dead” below and hopefully you’ll go check it out yourself, as I really enjoyed it. Also, I’ll let you know about a world premiere show I’ll be attending in the next week, and some info on the Celtic dancers coming through SCV on Saturday. Remember, there’s no football this weekend, so you have no excuse not to get out there!

As I mentioned last week, we’re right in the middle of the awards season and, now that the Oscar nominations have been announced, many of the films nominated are returning to theaters. I saw “The Wolf of Wall Street” on MLK day and, excessive swearing and ridiculous indulgence aside, I really enjoyed it. Maybe this will be DiCaprio’s year? Fingers crossed! Remember to let me know if you make it to any of the nominated films – I’d love to hear from you. My column is up at www.santaclaritafree.com every week Gazette tab then Community – I look forward to your comments!

James Joyce’s “The Dead”
Greenway Court Theatre
544 North Fairfax Ave., in Hollywood
323-882-6912
www.openfist.org / www.greenwayarts.org

Many people are unfamiliar with the author James Joyce, and the few who do know of him probably can’t tell you what he is known for. A pat on the back for those who have read snippets of his most famous work, “Dubliners,” but that is usually where the connection stops. I am one of the guilty ones, but I can say that I definitely remember reading his short story, “The Dead,” in college and finding it to be beautiful and haunting. When I learned that, not only was there a live production of the tale opening in town, and more so that it was a musical, my curiosity was piqued, to say the least. I haven’t read the story in almost a decade, but I do remember the way it made me feel – sad and hopeless, yet inspired at the same time. Did this rendition of Joyce’s tale invoke the same feelings? Not quite…but pretty close to it.

Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey, who have created a fantastic production, write the music and script. It does, however, lack the sorrow and pain that I remember from the original work. The setting is Ireland in 1904, just after Christmas, at the Morkan’s holiday party. Among the guests is Gabriel Conroy, our protagonist, and a handful of friends and family. It is an exceptionally cold winter with plenty of snow falling, but inside the Morkin household there is warmth and mirth. By the end of the evening, Gabriel finds out an unsettling secret about his wife, which leads to an even greater realization about himself.

I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to see that the awkward dinner party has not changed much with the decades. Here on stage you will find the guy who drank too much, the girl who thinks she’s too good to be there, the guy who is trying to get everybody drunk, the uncomfortable and the overly confident. They are all on stage together and what ensues is a production that will make you laugh, and staying true to the original story, will also probably make you cry.

Our protagonist is Gabriel Conroy, a self-conscious and sad writer, who spends a large portion of the night worrying about his dinner toast. Devon Armstrong does an excellent job of expressing the hopelessness woven into every word of the story through his portrayal of Gabriel. When he speaks, you want to listen, when he sings you are captivated, and when he is hurt you want to comfort him. Bravo to Mr. Armstrong for breathing life into the character.

This emotionally complex production is a must see – even if you have never heard of James Joyce; and for those who have, it offers a fresh and lively twist to the original dismal tale. The music is great, the dancing is delightful and, overall, everything is both uplifting and daunting – just the way the author intended. “The Dead” runs through Feb. 22 and tickets are $25.

“Above the Fold”
Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena
626-356-7529
www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

The world premiere of this play begins Tuesday (1/28) and I’ll be on deck for it, so stay tuned for a longer review soon. In the meantime, the story is written by Bernard Weinraub and stars Oscar nominated actress Taraji P. Henson. From the press release: “ABOVE THE FOLD tells the story of Jane, an African-American newspaper reporter from New York, who flies to a Southern university where three white fraternity boys have been accused of raping a young African-American woman. Taking place amidst the shift from print to digital journalism, ABOVE THE FOLD asks tough questions about the exploitation of tragedy, the cost of success and the dangers that come when ambition collides with truth.”

This story appeals to me because I majored in journalism in college and have definitely felt the impact that the digital space has had on the print world – even working at the Gazette, I’m still feeling the impact. It seems like an original story and I’m curious to see how it plays out on stage. I’ve attended the last four shows at the Pasadena Playhouse, all have been excellent, and I’m sure this will be no different. Tickets are $23 to $72 and you can purchase them at the link above.
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Celtic Nights: A Journey of Hope
Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center
26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd, in Valencia
661-362-5304
www.CanyonsPAC.com

Add a little Irish culture to your weekend when the SC Pac plays host to Celtic Night – A Journey of Hope. This Saturday (1/25) six of Ireland’s best singers and dancers will take the stage and through exceptional music and choreography will tell the story of the Celtic people who had dreams big enough, and hopes high enough to succeed in the new world. The show begins at 8 p.m., which leaves you just enough time afterwards to visit an Irish pub for a drink and toast to the Irish! Make sure and grab your tickets now as they are going fast.

That’s it for now, entertainment seekers. Drop me a line at michelle@scfree.net, I’m always so happy to hear from you!

Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | January 16, 2014

By Michelle Sandoval

Did you all catch the Golden Globes this past Sunday? What a show! I myself, couldn’t believe that “American Hustle” walked away with so many awards, while “Her” was completely snubbed. That being said, what a fantastic job Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did as hosts this second time around. I hope they come back next year! There are still so many films out there that I need to see to get ready for the Oscars, but this is always a good indication of what to expect. Based on Sunday’s wins, “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dallas Buyers Club” are definitely on my “must see” list.

Below you will read about the opening of a show that is probably number one on my list of Broadway plays I have yet to see. “The Book of Mormon” opens next Tuesday and I am beyond excited for its premiere! I should have a full review of it in the weeks to come.

Also, the local libraries in town are so great and always hosting fantastic events for the family. This weekend there are two interesting happenings to entice you to walk through their doors, if you’re due for a visit. Make sure to peruse their extensive collections while you’re there, dust off your library card and take some great literature home!

The Book of Mormon
Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood
323-468-1770
http://hollywoodpantages.com/

Well, this is exciting! The nine-time Tony Award-winning musical will be landing at the Pantages next Tuesday! And with shows extended through May, there’s plenty of time to check out this show that was dubbed “Best Musical” when it debuted. Written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker of “South Park” fame, as well as Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), the show has received a vast amount of positive praise for writing, music and acting. There are so many reasons for you to see the production that all I’m going to do is give you a quick synopsis of the plot, a simple Google search will give you an idea of the outstanding reviews it has gotten.

The tale is one of two young Mormon missionaries traveling in Uganda, where the population is being harassed and threatened by a vicious warlord. Being young and naïve, the two try to spread the word in the Book of Mormon, which only one of them has actually read. They have trouble connecting with the people, who are plagued with worries of war and poverty, and religion is the last thing on their minds.

Look, I’ve never seen the show myself, so I can’t give you a legitimate review (yet!) but I can tell you that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Broadway tour to make its way to Southern California. I’m sure the hundreds of positive reviews circulating can’t all be wrong. Let me know if you plan on seeing it and perhaps share some upcoming theatre that you’re excited about!

Teddy Bear Sleepover at the Newhall Library
24500 Main Street
661-259-0750

This is a cute idea for the kids – a literal teddy bear sleepover party! Nobody is actually allowed to spend the night in the library, but you can drop your teddies and other stuffed friends off between 10 a.m and 6 p.m. on Friday (1/17). The toys will spend the entire night in the library and be left to do whatever it is they do when the lights turn off (does this scream “Twilight Zone” to anyone else?). The bears can be picked up the following day (1/18) between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. This is a great opportunity to get the kids to the library and encourage them to read, read, read! This event is free to the public.

Local Authors Celebration
Canyon Country Library
18601 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country
661-251-2720

The SCV is bursting with local talent, and the Canyon Country Library will honor our local authors this weekend with this first annual celebration! More than 30 scribes are scheduled to appear this Saturday (1/18) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where they will be answering questions and signing books. There will be moderated panel discussions as well. Their books will be available for purchase at the event, so this is the perfect opportunity to support our local authors and keep the spirit of the printed book alive!

That’s it for now, entertainment seekers. I look forward to hearing from you: michelle@scfree.net, or comment here on my blog.

Arts & Entertainment – The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | January 10, 2014

I hope you all enjoyed your very first weekend of the New Year. Mine was spent mainly at the movies, since there are so many fantastic films out right now. Besides, I had to make sure to catch up on some hot titles that are up for various Golden Globe Awards this Sunday!

Below you will find a number of family-friendly events taking place this weekend. I plan on taking my three-year-old nephew to at least one, so I’ll let you all know about it next week. Make sure you get out there and take advantage of this fabulous weather we’re having, and be thankful we’re not all snowed in like those unfortunate folks on the East Coast.

The Queen Mary’s “Chill”
The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway in Long Beach
877-342-0738
http://www.queenmary.com/chill/

While temperatures have been in the high 70s here in the SCV, down at the Queen Mary in Long Beach you’ll need a jacket and scarf to keep warm while enjoying their seasonal attraction. This is the last weekend to enjoy “Chill,” a winter wonderland aboard the ship that has something for the entire family. Located inside an ice dome made from 2 million (2 million!!) pounds of ice, you will be taken through the classic tale of “The Nutcracker.” Afterwards, everyone can enjoy a number of fun activities, like ice skating, ice tubing, a three-story high snowman bouncy castle, live music and much more!

The attraction is open through Sunday (1/12). Make sure to visit the website for a half-off promo code. The temperature inside the dome falls to a chilly nine degrees, so make sure to layer up!

“Mary Poppins” Sing-A-Long at El Capitan
6838 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, CA 90028
800-347-6396
http://elcapitan.go.com/

It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve watched Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins,” and now that the El Capitan in Hollywood is playing it on the big screen, there’s no better time to check out one of my childhood favorites. If you’ve never visited the historic theater, it is a beautifully restored 1926 movie palace with a state-of-the-art sound system. Starting this Friday through January 20, the theatre will be showing the magical 1964 musical with on-screen lyrics, so you can sing along to your favorite tunes.

Guests are encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters, so get your little chimney sweeps ready for the occasion. Tickets are only $10 each and include a complimentary box of popcorn.

Popovich Comedy Pet Theater
Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center
26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia
661-362-5304
www.CanyonsPAC.com

This Sunday (1/12) the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center will be filled to the brim with talented animals. Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre will make a stop in the SCV to give residents a chance to experience a unique family-friendly show that is a combination of comedy, juggling, balancing acts and, of course, animal tricks. Fifteen cats and 10 dogs will join Gregory Popovich on stage and perform a number of impressive stunts.

The talented bi-species troupe has gained praise from the LA Times, were finalists in “America’s Got Talent,” and have appeared on a number of late night shows. The icing on this kitty cupcake is that all of the animals were rescued from shelters by Popovich himself, so this is a true strays-to-stars show! They are in town for one night only, so make sure you grab your tickets now!

That’s it for now, entertainment seekers. I look forward to hearing from you: michelle@scfree.net.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A&E

| Community, Gazette | January 2, 2014

Happy 2014, everyone! I hope you were all able to ring in the New Year surrounded by your loved ones. A resolution I made for 2014 was to make sure I got out to experience more events in the arts and entertainment world to share with all of you! There are so many great shows, music events, museums, etc. here in the SCV and surrounding areas that I want to make sure to take in as much as possible. Below, read about a funny holiday play in Burbank that is showing through Jan. 19, for those of you who aren’t ready to let the holidays go just yet. Also, you will find some information on the Placerita Nature Center and the Santa Clarita Farmers Market. As always, let me know about any events you think I should be checking out.

“Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland”
Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank
818-955-8101
www.FalconTheatre.com

The Troubadour Theatre Company has been performing since 1995, and it is unfortunate that I was not aware of this talented troupe before this year, because their holiday show was a delight. Made up of local singers, actors and comedians, the “Troubies” are known for taking classic tales and incorporating them with current pop culture. Their latest offering is a mishmash of holiday chaos, catchy tunes, improv and a little bit of everything in between, for a show that invokes the spirit of Christmas in a delightfully offensive way.

Directed by Matt Walker, “Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland” is a cabaret type show centered on the Winter Warlock, a character who is equal parts charming and creepy, who decides to quit Christmas because he (she?) feels unappreciated. This results in “A Christmas Carol” type of adventure, where the storyline reminisces about past “Troubie shows” in an attempt to raise the Warlock’s spirits.

Every year the Falcon Theatre troupe puts on a new holiday show, and from the number of hands raised when the audience was asked if they were returning patrons, the productions are growing in popularity every year. An estimated half or more of the theatergoers that night were devoted fans. Of course, with fun themes like “A Charlie James Brown Christmas,” “A Christmas Carol King,” “It’s a Stevie Wonderful Life” and many others, the audience is always in for a fun-filled evening.

This year we were treated to a number of one-hit wonders, such as A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby,” along with a loose storyline that left plenty of room for audience participation and improvisation. There were also numerous clips from past seasons displayed on a screen above the stage. The effect here, while one can respect the proud history of the talented group, was lost on me, as I was there to see live theatre, not stare at a video screen throughout the night, especially since the show ran a short 75 minutes.

The Troubies seem to have a very loyal following, and rightfully so, because their talent lit up the stage.That being said, the feeling that they were mostly acting for their longtime fans, their constant references to past shows and almost lazy use of video did not resonate well.

However, despite this, we truly enjoyed the majority of the performance and definitely fell under the actors’ spells.This show offers up a naughty performance to balance out the feel-good theatrical offerings of the season. Think of it as the rum in your holiday eggnog –  it will make your holidays all the brighter.

Placerita Canyon Nature Center
19152 Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall
661-259-7721
www.placerita.org
When was the last time you took your family into the great outdoors? Chances are it has been awhile, and probably even longer, since you’ve visited the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. Here you will find a number of self-guided hiking trails that range in intensity level. Also, there is a great little museum type building informing you about the various species of plant and animal life native to the area. Every Saturday the Center offers a Family Nature Walk starting at 11 a.m. followed by a live animal presentation at 1 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, so dust off those hiking shoes!

JR’s Comedy Club
27630 The Old Road in Valencia
661-259-2291
www.comedyinvalencia.com

Many people are unaware that the SCV has a great little comedy club that has been going strong for over 15 years. Located inside Marie Callender’s on the Old Road is JR’s Comedy Club, and it plays host to nationally known comedians every weekend. This Friday (1/3) and Saturday (1/4) Don Friesen will take the stage. His routine is described as: “engaging, clever, and just flat-out funny, Don captures the irony of parenting, marriage and everyday absurdities through characters, voices, parodies and some of the best written routines around.” The tickets are only $15, but there are special prices that include dinner and the show starting at $27.99.

That’s it for now, entertainment seekers. I look forward to hearing from you: michelle@scfree.net. Cheers to a great and fun-filled 2014!

Real Estate Coach

| Community, Gazette | December 21, 2013

Dear Coach,

A real estate agent told me that two-year leases were not valid in California. Is this statement correct? In addition, are deposits on rentals still put into accounts that collect interest, which the tenant is paid at the end of the lease when they vacate the property?

Susan in Valencia

Dear Susan,

Two-year leases are valid in California as long as they are in writing. While they are not common, they do offer benefits to both the tenant (to prevent rent increase) and the landlord (to guarantee occupancy).

In regard to the deposit, different management companies handle the money per their own policy. One company that I work with gives the deposit to the owner (landlord) and does not hold onto the funds. The other company that I work with puts the deposit into a Trust account, which is held until it is returned to the tenant. It is not an interest bearing account, but some companies may utilize them. When choosing a management company, be sure to ask about its policy for handling deposits.

JR’s Marks 16 Years of New Year’s Eve Shows

| Community, Gazette | December 20, 2013

By Martha Michael

There will be plenty of cork-popping at Marie Callender’s Restaurant on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, December 31. JR’s Comedy Club is celebrating 16 years of bringing laughter to locals in the SCV, including New Year’s Eve festivities every December 31.

Randy and Diana will both be on the scene, greeting guests at two seatings. The earlier, “East Coast” New Year’s celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy dinner and comedy until 9:00 p.m., when they will all react as though they were in New York’s Times Square, joining the thousands who congregate to collectively turn their calendars to 2014..

The later, “West Coast” New Year’s Eve celebrants will be seated in the restaurant side of Marie Callender’s at 8:30 p.m. and, following dinner, will head to the Comedy Club Showroom for the same experience as the first round, just enjoying New Year’s at midnight Pacific Time.

The shows that night are “double headers.” One of the headline comedic acts is Dennis Blair, who has appeared on The Tonight Show, the Academy Awards, and was the opening act for comedians George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield. One of his signature styles is playing the guitar and singing, creating song parodies of virtually any musical artist the audience proposes. The second act on New Year’s Eve is young comic Tom Clark, who has appeared on Comedy Central and landed acting roles, such as guest starring on the TV show, “The Closer.”

The package for the entire evening includes dinner, a champagne toast, party favors, noise makers and the double headliner show for $68 per person.

Visit www.Comedyinvalencia.com or call (661) 259-2291.

Celebrating the Season.

| Community, Gazette | December 19, 2013

Santa Clarita residents continue to take part in events of the holiday season over the next few weeks.In the coming week there are Christmas services and dramas to attend, followed by a chance to ring in the New Year.

On December 22 at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Valencia United Methodist Church will feature “Love Lost and Found, a musical drama about the Healing Power of God’s Love.” The church is located at 25718 McBean Pkwy in Valencia. Visit www.umcv.org.

Both traditional services and those geared toward children are available all over town this year. Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Canyon Country will hold a Christmas Eve service especially for children at 5:30 p.m. on December 24, as well as a candlelight praise service at 7:00 p.m., and a candlelight service with traditional carols at 11:00 p.m. On Christmas Day the church will also hold a service at 10:00 a.m. The following week, on New Year’s Eve, December 31 at 7:00 p.m., Bethlehem Lutheran will gather to celebrate the holiday. It is located at 27265 Luther Drive in Canyon Country. Visit www.bethlehemscv.com.

 

Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia will hold family worship services at 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, December 24. The program will feature music by “Messenger” and an original drama, incorporating the work of professional animators. At 10:30 p.m. there will be instrumental music in the sanctuary, followed by a traditional Christmas Eve service at 11:00 p.m. The candlelight service will feature the chancel choir, including traditional carols. Christ Lutheran is located at 25816 Tournament Road in Valencia. Visit www.come2christ.com.

Hope Vineyard will hold Christmas services on Sunday, December 22 at Leona Cox Community School at 10:00 a.m. The Christmas celebration service will focus on the peace, joy and hope of Christmas. Hope Vineyard is located at 18643 Oakmoor Street in Canyon Country. Visit www.hopevineyard.com.

Newhall Church of the Nazarene will hold both a late Christmas Eve service and an early service geared toward children and families. On December 24 the public is invited to attend either the family oriented candlelight service at 5:30 p.m. or a “Music and Meditation” candlelight service at 11:00 p.m. The church is located at 23857 The Old Road in Newhall. Visit www.newnaz.org.

A children’s Christmas Pageant will be presented at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve at 5:00 p.m. Later on December 24 is a traditional worship service featuring orchestra, carols and candlelight at 11:00 p.m.

In addition to the traditional Christmas Eve service, Heart of the Canyons Church is hosting a “Christmas Eve Eve” service on December 23. The theme for the holiday season at HOTC is “Christmas…a Time for Forgiveness.” This Sunday, December 22 the congregation will meet in one service at 10:30 a.m. followed by a “Cookie Potluck.” The Christmas Eve Eve service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on December 23, and the Christmas Eve service will be held at 5:00 p.m. on December 24. Heart of the Canyons meets in the auditorium at La Mesa Junior High School, 26623 May Way in Santa Clarita. Visit www.heartofthecanyons.com.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | December 13, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Are you all feeling the holiday spirit yet? My family is getting our Christmas tree this week and it’s always so much fun to have my nephews come over to help decorate. Although we’ve been bombarded with Christmas since October, it never really feels like the holidays until we have our own tree with twinkling lights. I’d love to see photos of your trees – feel free to send me some at michelle@scfree.net. This week I will be attending three theater shows, so I’ll be keeping myself busy (more about those next week)! Below you will find my review of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” info about a great show written by an SCV resident, and all the details on Breakfast with Santa. I hope this chilly weather isn’t discouraging you from going out and enjoying all the fantastic events going on in the arts and entertainment world – grab a scarf and enjoy the season!

Mom’s Gift
Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood
818-763-5990
www.theGrouprep.com

Phil Olsen, who has 13 published plays that have had over 300 productions, wrote this world premiere comedy…and he’s a Santa Clarita resident! His latest offering, “Mom’s Gift” tells the story of a mother who has been deceased for 11 months and shows up at her husband’s birthday celebration as a spirit. She comes with a mission, a mystery that has to be fixed and, with only her oldest daughter able to see and help her, it is no easy feat.

How great it is that a local writer has found such success in the theatre world! Make sure to show your support by checking out this great show, playing through January 19. And if you have a couple of girlfriends who appreciate the theater, every Friday night is “Ladies Night,” so tickets are 50 percent off.

Breakfast with Santa
Santa Clarita Sports Complex Activities Center
20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA
(661) 250-1182

Local families are invited to attend Breakfast with Santa this Saturday (12/14), where the man himself, along with Mrs. Claus, will be celebrating the season. There will be a buffet breakfast, a variety of crafts, holiday stories, and even cookie decorating at Mrs. Claus’ Cookie Kitchen! This fun holiday gathering is a great way to experience Christmas with the kids, friends and family, and make sure you put on your festive garb, as there will be plenty of photo opportunities. Ho ho ho!

Peter and the Starcatcher
Ahmanson Theatre
135 N. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles
http://www.centertheatregroup.org
The Ahmanson Theatre has been sprinkled with fairy dust this holiday season with its latest offering of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Playing now through January 12, this playful production is full of enough magic and adventure to satisfy the child in all of us, as well as enough mature mischief to appeal to our naughty sides.

Written by Rick Elice, who also penned the hit “Jersey Boys,” ”Peter and the Starcatcher” is based on the novel by the same name. Aside from rave reviews since its debut in 2009, the show is the winner of five Tony Awards. It tells the story of an unfortunate orphan boy who travels to an island where he finds friends, family and, in the end, himself. There are pirates, mermaids, shipwrecks, sword fights, lots of “star stuff,” and plenty of excitement along the way, as we learn exactly how this orphan became the beloved Peter Pan.

The production is simply delightful, a true adventure on stage. The talented cast, many of whom play more than one character, used every inch of the stage during this magical journey and made sure the audience went right along with them. Using minimal props, like pieces of string, umbrellas, and small wooden boats, they transported us first to a pirate ship, and then eventually to the island that would become Never Never Land. And while things tended to be a bit chaotic at times, the charm of the production is never lost and the end result is sincerely bewitching.

The standout performance of the night was, by far, John Sanders as Black Stache, who would eventually become Captain Hook. There are many reasons to go see this show, but Sanders is the reason you simply MUST see it. He is hilarious as the flamboyant pirate captain, and he had the audience in stitches from the moment he stepped on stage. I really cannot remember the last time I laughed so much during a production, and all of those laughs can be attributed to him. He eloquently delivers rather difficult discourses in a perfect singsong voice, and I was in awe that he was able to do so with a straight face. He did lose that control once during the show, but even that small misstep was charming and memorable. He was an absolute pleasure to watch.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is a magical show that feels more like a real adventure than a staged production. It is witty and whimsical, and overall just so much fun. So take a little trip to Never Never Land this holiday. I’m sure, much like Peter himself, you’ll never want to leave.

Remember to send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I look forward to hearing from you all!

The Canyon Theatre Guild’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”

| Community, Gazette | December 12, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Every holiday season I am reminded by friends and family how odd it is that I have never seen Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There are so many great Christmas films that are a yearly tradition in my household, but this one just slipped through the cracks somehow. When I learned that the Canyon Theatre Guild was doing its own rendition, I knew that this would be the year I would finally find out exactly why George Bailey’s life was so wonderful, and why the sound of a ringing bell was significant.

Directed by Greg and Patti Finley, the duo present us with a heartwarming production full of Christmas spirit and hope. Leading the cast is Robert McCloy, who plays the charismatic George Bailey, a humble man who finds himself in such despair that he feels his only option is suicide. His guardian angel, played by John Morris, learns of this tragedy and makes his way down to Earth to show Mr. Bailey exactly how his life has affected the people around him in a positive way. Mary Hatch Bailey is played by Nicole Kowalski, and she did a fine job of portraying, first a smitten youngster, and then a loyal wife. There was a connection between McCloy and Kowalski that radiated on stage and simply pulled you into their love story.

My favorite performance of the show goes to Michael Levine as the evil Mr. Potter. I am always drawn to the Scrooges and the Grinches, so naturally I found him delightful. There is always so much depth to these villains, and Levine delivered a stellar performance of a greedy, aging man who loves nothing in the world but money. Also, he has one of the best maniacal laughs I’ve seen or heard on stage in a very long time.

The set was fantastic; my hat’s off to Jim Robinson and Carla Lombardo Bambo for painting the perfect picture of a quaint 1940s town. It felt like we were all a part of Bedford Falls on that snowy Christmas Eve.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is playing through December 22 at the Canyon Theatre Guild. What better way to appreciate local theatre and all the hard work and time that goes into putting a production like this together than by taking your family down to Old Town Newhall on one of these cold, wintry evenings? Spend some time with the Finleys and their talented troupe, and celebrate the spirit of the season with this charming production.

For tickets or information call 661-799-2702 or visit www.canyontheatre.org.

Season of Mourning for Many Local Families

| Community, Gazette | December 6, 2013

By Martha Michael
A big part of the holiday season involves looking backwards to capture the sweet spirit of tradition. We also typically experience the bitter pang of sadness this time of year, when we remember those who left this world before us. While both aspects involve looking back in time, this year we are confronted right now, in the present, with so many loved ones lost recently.

The death of actor Paul Walker last week has brought the focus on grief to Santa Clarita, the site of Walker’s crash, but residents here in the SCV are experiencing enough loss of their own. Since the beginning of November, families are suffering from the deaths of sons, fathers and brothers, many of whom were active members of the community. George Guevara, Roger Presgrove, Nick Longshore, Julio Lemos, Devin Freeman and Tony Lombardi are just a few locals who have left mourning family and friends recently, some of them memorialized here in “The Gazette & Free Classifieds.”

The loss of Roger Presgrove, who was the head of local non-profit Help the Children, was publicized widely, including “The Gazette.” He lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, November 10, which seemed ironic, considering Presgrove had spearheaded medical support in Honduras specifically targeting cancer patients. Help the Children sponsored the “Love and Life Center,” which offered housing to 60+ children undergoing chemotherapy at a hospital next door.

In the following weeks, two young adults whose lives touched many in the SCV would also leave grieving families. An accident in Idaho on November 10 would take the life of Nick Longshore, son of DeAnn and the late Todd Longshore, brother to Courtney, Nate and Ben, and husband to Caroline Longshore. Nick and Caroline were expecting a child. His loss was a huge shock, and yet so similar to the death of another Canyon High School graduate, just five days later. Tony Lombardi, son of Margie and Al, and brother to Angie Lombardi Lynn, was hospitalized following an accident in Scottsdale, Arizona. The family gathered to spend the holiday with Tony, but he passed away on November 25, three days before Thanksgiving.

“Losing Tony is such a tragic loss. He had only been married a year and a half, moved into a new home, was so happy and had his whole life ahead of him,” said Margie Lombardi. “He was such a positive and caring person, and always had a smile on his face. There was never a day he did not call his dad and me at least once a day, and he always said he loved us before he would hang up. There will not be a minute that we will not have him in our thoughts. We were blessed to have him for 32 years.”

Both Tony Lombardi and Nick Longshore were in their 30s and their injuries resulted from accidents on recreational vehicles.

Another local man in his 30s, a sheriff’s deputy who worked as a resource officer at Sierra Vista Junior High and Canyon High School lost his battle with cancer on Thanksgiving Day. Deputy Devin Freeman was surrounded by family, including wife Meghan, his mother and daughters, in his home when he died from metastatic melanoma to the liver. He had originally been diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2007.

As Christmas season began, the SCV lost more beloved friends. Julio Garcia Lemos passed away on Tuesday, December 3 after years of illness. He moved to Santa Clarita in 1985 from the San Fernando Valley, and was known for giving to this community, partly through his business, The Office of Julio Lemos.
“He provided so many different services,” explained Julio’s son, Jesus. “A lot of times he didn’t even charge people. Money was never the issue, it was always about helping. He may have been reading a letter, typing a letter, immigration filing, lawsuits. He knew how to do just about anything.”

While the business, operated by his children, continue to offer insurance and other services to all members of the community, Julio Lemos met a great need for Spanish speaking residents.

“His main priority was always to give back to the community, especially the Latino community,” said Jesus.

The holidays will be particularly difficult, said Jesus, who is a surviving son, along with two brothers, two sisters and Julio’s 10 grandchildren.

“That was the place to be – with my dad,” said Jesus. “He was always smiling, always happy, always helping others.”

Julio’s first liver transplant was on Thanksgiving of 2010. He awoke from that transplant on December 3 which, ironically, is the day he died in 2013.

The very next day, another friend of “The Gazette” passed away from illness. George Guevara, husband to Cyndie and father to Ryan and GJ, contracted a mysterious virus that required hospitalization last week. A week after being placed on life support in an attempt to let his body fight the virus, George died peacefully on December 4.

Gazette publisher Doug Sutton remembers George, a retired sheriff’s deputy, as a devoted family man. Others remember his involvement in Canyon High football, helping with pre-game lunches and attending games during the years his son Ryan played.

While we are sure there are more famililes who have lost loved ones this season, it is profound to consider so many so close to us lost in such a short time.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter this Christmas.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | November 21, 2013

My weekend is full of theater and I’m really excited about seeing two great productions which both, coincidently, involve Lewis Carroll. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will forever be one of my favorite reads, and since the author himself lived a fascinating life, it will be interesting to see him portrayed on stage. One show will pair him with Sherlock Holmes and the other with Charles Dickens – obviously the literary geek inside of me is doing somersaults! See below for all the details. Also, over at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center you can check out John Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men,” which will be playing through the weekend. Did you make it to the Festival of Trees this past weekend? If not, the trees will still be on display through Saturday. Have a great pre-Thanksgiving weekend! If you’re a huge procrastinator like me and find yourself without dinner plans for the holiday, make sure to check out our Thanksgiving reservation guide on page 13.

A Perfect Likeness
Fremont Centre Theatre
100 Fremont Avenue in Pasadena
626-441-5977
http://www.fremontcentretheatre.com
Charles Dickens meets Lewis Carroll. What more could you ask for? Daniel Rover Singer, founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-creator of one of funniest shows I’ve seen – “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” – brings us this brand new comedy starring two literary greats. These two men were known to have very different personalities, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the grouchy Dickens sits for a portrait by the free-spirited Carroll. It will be my first time visiting this theatre, which is always exciting, so, couple that with the fact this show has been receiving rave reviews, and I am in for a very entertaining Saturday evening. “A Perfect Likeness” is playing through December 22 and tickets are available through the website. Short review to follow!

Sherlock Through the Looking-Glass
The Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard in Santa Monica
310-477-2055
www.odysseytheatre.com
I’ve seen quite a few shows at the Odyssey and have enjoyed them all. The theatre always does a fantastic job of filling its seasons with unique productions that won’t be found anywhere else. Once I saw a show there called “Dark,” which took place completely in…(wait for it)…the dark! I’ve never experienced anything like it.
This Sunday I’ve been asked to attend “Sherlock Through the Looking-Glass,” which is a mystery involving Sherlock Holmes. Here are a few words from the press release : “In 1885 London, seemingly disparate citizens are falling victim to a plague of madness which continually evokes, in increasingly curious ways, the whimsical worlds of Lewis Carroll. But, what happens when Sherlock Holmes — the world’s foremost logician — enters a realm where logic does not exist? Surprising, dark, humorous, and classically-minded, “Sherlock Through The Looking-Glass” explores the nature of reality, the choices we make, and the legacy we leave.” Madness, mystery, whimsical worlds? Yes, please. Check back for my review in the next couple of weeks.

Of Mice and Men
Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center
661-362-5304
www.CanyonsPAC.com

We all know this classic tale of friendship between George and Lenny, and whether we were forced to read Steinbeck’s novel by a professor or chose to of our own free will, the powerful impact the novel resonates is undeniable. Watch the story come to life on stage this weekend at the SCPAC that, including this, has a very exciting and impressive holiday schedule. “Of Mice and Men” is playing at various times through Sunday (11/24). Tickets are only $5 to $10.

Keep sending me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I’d love to know how you and the family will be partaking in the arts this holiday season!

It’s That Time of Year, Boutiques!

| Community, Gazette | November 15, 2013

Craft & Horse Tack Sale

If anyone on your Christmas list likes anything involving a mane and tail, you can find what you are looking for at Oak Creek Corral’s Craft and Horse Tack Sale. Vendors will have enticing handmade gifts, along with Western themed gear and décor on Sunday, November 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some of the goodies include jewelry, women’s apparel, baby clothes, hair adornments, upscale kitchen items, wooden home décor, horseshoe wine racks, gourmet treats, and new and used horse tack and supplies. If you’d like to be a vendor or want more information, contact the organizer: message Michelle Lewis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bowerslewis?fref=ts.

Boutique Benefits Santa Clarita Elementary School

The public is invited to Christmas shop at an upcoming boutique, where proceeds will go to the Santa Clarita Elementary School PTC (parent-teacher club). On Saturday, December 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. crafters and vendors will gather crowds with handmade items and gifts for sale. Proceeds will finance such programs as art, student activities, technology, and will replace classroom supplies. Due to governmental budget cuts, the group is offering as much support to the children’s needs as possible.

The Santa Clarita Elementary School PTC is a 100% volunteer driven non-profit parent group dedicated to improving the quality of education in a public school format. The sale will be held at Santa Clarita Elementary School, 27177 Seco Canyon Road in Saugus.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | November 14, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Have you guys visited Main Street in Newhall since they adorned the streets with Christmas lights and other decorations? It is so pretty, and even when I drive past it quickly, my eyes are drawn to the twinkling lights in the trees! Christmas is definitely in the air and we’re very lucky to live in a town that is overflowing with holiday spirit. This weekend marks the beginning of the 11th annual Festival of Trees that brings us 10 days of enjoyment – more details are below. In the Gazette this week we have a directory of restaurants that are hosting Thanksgiving dinner so you can spend more time with the family and less time slaving away in the kitchen. Check out page 15 to start making your reservations today. Also below is a short review of a great play I saw a couple of weeks ago and all the info about a country artist performing at LPAC this Sunday.

The Intergalactic Nemesis – Book 1: Target Earth
Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles
http://www.theintergalacticnemesis.com

Somewhere in a galaxy far away lives a race of monsters called the Zygonians. They are evil, slimy and determined to destroy the human race. Recently the Center of Performing Arts at UCLA received a visit from these sludge-covered nasties in Jason Neulander’s “The Intergalactic Nemesis.” The show is marketed as a live-action graphic novel and, as a huge fan of both theater and comic books, I naturally jumped at the chance to attend. This one-of-a-kind show blasted off at light speed, taking the audience on a whirlwind adventure through space and time that I’m sure pleased the kid (or geek) in all of us.

The story takes place in 1933, where we meet Molly Sloan, an acclaimed journalist, and her stalwart assistant, Timmy Mendez. They soon team up with Ben Wilcott, a mysterious librarian, and with the help of some friends along the way – a most charming Algerian freedom fighter named Jean-Pierre Desperois and some robots from the Robot Planet – they embark on a journey to save Earth from the evil Zygonians.

The storytelling approach is what really makes the show a stand out. The comic book images are displayed on a screen behind the stage while three talented voice actors play out the scenes. They are joined by a Foley artist (sound effects guru) and one pianist, who provide all the sound effects. Nothing is pre-recorded; what you see and hear before you is what you get. And what you get is one truly awesome performance.

There are so many remarkable components to this production. From the beautiful artwork to the talented voice actors to the expert sound effects, Neulander has pulled out all the stops to ensure this show is one you will never forget. His choice to present it in true comic book form, with performances released in a serial format, means we have more in store from “The Intergalactic Nemesis.” They are currently on tour, so make sure to check out their website for details.

Festival of Trees
Westfield Valencia Town Center, Valencia
661-254-3063
www.scvbgc.org

This Friday (11/15) marks the beginning of the 10-day Festival of Trees, a charity event benefitting the Boys & Girls Club. Intricately decorated Christmas trees will line The Patios at the Town Center mall and range in height from three to ten feet. I’ve attended this in the past and these trees are definitely worth seeing – they are all so beautiful and you can tell that a lot of thought and effort went into creating them. There will be various activities taking place throughout the weekend, starting with the Jingle Jam Swing on Friday, so make sure you bring your dancing shoes. Other events include two Hocus Pocus magic shows, live music, cookie decorating, carolers, elaborate gingerbread houses and so much more! Santa will also be on hand to take pictures with the kids.

All of the trees will be available for purchase and all are unique and adorned with beautiful decorations, and even special surprises like event tickets, jewelry and even furniture! If the dazzling tree isn’t enough to make you grab your wallet remember that it is all for a fantastic cause, as it benefits a great local organization that helps thousands of children every year.

Uncle Kracker
Lancaster Performing Arts Center
661-723-5950
www.LPAC.org

Who doesn’t love a little country rock? This Sunday (11/17) Uncle Kracker will perform at the LPAC in Lancaster and tickets are still available and on sale now! Popular singles like “Smile” and “Drift Away,” as well as his latest hit, “Blue Skies,” have helped this talented musician make a name for himself in the country world. Recently completing a hot summer tour with Kid Rock, he is now bringing his soulful music to the Antelope Valley, where he will perform songs form his latest album, “Midnight Special,” and popular hits from his past records. Tickets range from $29 to $35 and can be purchased by visiting the website.

Listen up, fellow A&E lovers! Keep sending me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I always appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Selling Physical Products on Amazon This Holiday Season

| Community, Gazette | November 8, 2013

After reading this column for the past year or so, you may think of me as someone who works exclusively with digital products and other electronics in my business. The truth is that I also dabble in physical products in a serious way, and this month I am gearing up for the holiday season and beyond. I’ll share exactly how I am doing this so you can see if this opportunity is for you.

Amazon offers us an excellent opportunity for you with something called FBA, which stand for Fulfillment By Amazon. This means that you can source products from a supplier and Amazon will list them for sale for you. It’s a smooth process that people from around the world are profiting from all year around.

If you have ever sold anything on eBay, know that this is completely different. I sold toys for a couple of months on eBay more than 10 years ago and it was not very much fun. I had to source the products, have them delivered to my house, set up my sales on their site, and then package up the toys and get them to the post office. My profit margins were small, so I was working for barely more than minimum wage.

Amazon works in an entirely different way. I source products from somewhere in the United States (you can get them from China but that involves another level of complexity) and they are sent directly to Amazon’s distribution center. I have a sample overnighted to me to be sure about what I will be selling. Then I set up a product page on Amazon to describe the product in greater detail, add some pictures, and they approve it within just a day or two. Even highly competitive products do well in this huge marketplace. And, you are paid by direct deposit every two weeks.

If this sounds enticing to you, I recommend that you visit Amazon and go through their categories. Search for the top 100 bestselling products in each category to see what’s available and how popular it is. Then choose a dozen or so products you would be interested in selling and do a search on Google to find out where the suppliers are located.

This is a business you can ultimately run in just a few hours a week from the comfort of your home. Getting a friend or family member involved makes it even more fun. The outlay of capital to get started is less than a thousand dollars, and most of that is for inventory that will be sold in the coming weeks of your business. The idea of having family members and close friends help you is also attractive, as many people are in need of additional income to pay their expenses these days. You may think of this as a holiday endeavor, or find it to be so lucrative that you will continue it into the new year, as I intend to do.

As with any new business endeavor, discuss this with your family to see if it is right for you. When I explored this opportunity for myself I was most concerned with the time it would take to learn and set up this new business. After deciding that I could learn 90 percent of what I needed to know within a month, it made perfect sense for me to jump in and begin. Now I see this as an excellent way to add significant revenue to my bottom line, and it’s fun to be selling physical products along with the digital part of my business.

Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Her ninth book, Living the Internet Lifestyle, was recently released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | November 7, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Everywhere I look these days I have Christmas thrown in my face…and I’m perfectly OK with that. While I feel that Thanksgiving is always overlooked, and sometimes the yuletide spirit is embraced too soon, we can’t ignore the fact that Christmas is right around the corner. The City of Santa Clarita is wasting no time helping us celebrate the season with a tree lighting ceremony on Main Street this weekend, more info to follow below. Also, read on for a review of some great theater I saw this past Sunday, and all the info about the City of Lancaster’s craft beer festival taking place this Saturday!

The Mystery of Irma Vep
Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank
818-955-8101
www.FalconTheatre.com

Halloween may be behind us, but mystery, mayhem and monsters can still be found at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. Playing through November 17, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is a hilariously cagey production put on by two very talented actors playing collective roles that take the audience on a whirlwind adventure through stormy nights, haunted mansions and plenty of delightful comedic horror.

Written by Charles Ludlam, the play is a caricature of several genres. Gothic Victorian melodrama, classic movie monsters and Hitchcock all find a role in this popular production and blend perfectly for a story that is as much fun as it is clever. Lord Edgar and Lady Enid are the newlyweds and masters of the haunted mansion. Jane Twisden and Nicodemus are their house staff members, and together they try to unfold the mysteries of the estate, which include murder, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, Egyptian lore and so many things in between that you will have to see it for yourself to believe it.

Resting on the shoulders of two actors, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is brought to life on stage by Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini. They feverously switch roles between eight characters and, while at times seem out of breath (rightfully so), their transitions are almost seamless, and any small error or misstep only adds to the overall charm of the production.

It is obvious from the very beginning that the script is not an easy one to tackle. Many of the actor’s exit lines are timed with his other character’s entrance and several times delivered from backstage, where costume changes are still happening. Miller and Torcellini more than succeed at this task and play off of each other’s energy throughout the night with such genuine spirit and enthusiasm that it emanates through the endless laughter of the audience. Under the tactful direction of Jenny Sullivan, these two deliver a performance that is full of farcical genius.

Light Up Main Street and Block Party
Main Street in Newhall
www.oldtownBP.com (see below)

The streets of Old Town Newhall will kick off the holiday season this Saturday as the City hosts a tree lighting ceremony on Main Street. The 23-foot Christmas tree will be in front of the Old Town Newhall Library and Mayor Bob Kellar and members of the city council will be on hand to officially illuminate the tree at 6 p.m.! There will also be a block party taking place prior to the tree lighting, so make sure to take the family down and experience everything that Old Town Newhall has to offer. Several of the merchants will be offering refreshments, special promotions and there will even be a passport you can take from store to store for a chance to win great prizes. There will also be several children’s activities scheduled at the library, holiday music, tours of Hart mansion, fashion shows, cooking class demonstrations and much more. The festivities start at 11 a.m. and there will be free transportation on the Hometown Trolley with on/off stops to get you and your loved ones from point A to point B. Ho ho ho!

The community is invited to a free event to kick off the holiday season in Old Town Newhall this Saturday. Thousands of lights, a 23-foot Christmas Tree, and a lighted Santa are illuminated as part of the City’s first “Light Up Main Street” event at 6:00 p.m. The free event, which will take place between Lyons Avenue and 9th Street on Main Street, will include visits with Santa, seasonal refreshments, holiday music, and photo opportunities on the holiday themed Hometown Trolley.

The party begins long before the lighting, however, in local businesses in Old Town Newhall. Join the block party from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. OutWest Boutique on 6th Street will serve refreshments, and dozens of other stores will be offering promotions and treats as well. There will be a passbook customers can complete to win free gifts. In addition, there will be activities scheduled at the Old Town Newhall Library for the kids, cooking classes and demonstrations, specialty fitness trainings, a fashion show, a taco bar on Main Street between Market and 6th, tours of the Hart Mansion and free transportation on the holiday themed Trolley, which will offer convenient on/off stops in Old Town Newhall. The event is being organized and supported by several business owners, including representatives from The Boutique, Fresh, Ma Maison, Luscious Soul, Tribute Beauty Lounge, Results Fitness, Mirror Mirror, Fleur Wellness Spa, W.O.L.V.E.S. Surf Shop, and the Spice in Life. 

Tree Lighting Block Party in Newhall
For years the City has decked the street with twinkling lights for the holiday season, but this is the first year the City has worked with a holiday décor company to create a more extensive light and décor display. The Santa Clarita Valley Automobile Dealers Association and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital are supporters of the event, as the hospital will not host its regular tree lighting celebration this year due to construction. The hospital is sponsoring several elements at the lighting event, including Santa and refreshments, and the opportunity to support the “Gift of Life” donation program. The Old Town Newhall Association is also supporting the event, providing free refreshments for attendees. 

Free public parking for the Old Town Newhall Block Party and Light Up Main Street event is available at the Old Town Newhall Library, Metrolink Station, and at several public lots on and around Main Street.

For more information about the Light Up Main Street event, please contact the City of Santa Clarita’s Communications Division at (661) 255-4939 or visit Santa-Clarita.com.
 

Field of Drafts
Lancaster Municipal Stadium
45116 Valley Central Way in Lancaster
www.cityoflancasterca.org/beer

I have one word for all of you – BEER. This Saturday (11/9) from 1 to 5 p.m., the home of the Lancaster JetHawks will play host to a fantastic craft beer festival. There will be dozens of brewers, live entertainment, football on the jumbotron, games and food. Come on now…what more could you ask for? Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased for $30.

Remember, fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net

Veterans Day Ceremony Monday, November 11

| Community, Gazette | November 7, 2013

The City of Santa Clarita invites community members to join the Santa Clarita City Council for a special Veterans Day Ceremony on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Veterans Historical Plaza, located at 24275 N. Walnut Street in Newhall. The ceremony will honor veterans, currently-serving military and their families, and will take place rain or shine. 

The ceremony will include a reading by Dale Turner as a sign of respect for those who are missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW). Following the reading, the ceremony will continue with the changing of the flags by the Knights of Columbus Santa Clarita Assembly and representatives from various armed services recruiting offices. Featured local speakers include the Santa Clarita City Council, Veteran Bill Reynolds, Pastor John Shaver and Marine Corps Veteran Dick Jeffrey, who will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. The event will also feature patriotic performances of the “National Anthem” by The Men of Harmony, and “Proud to be an American” by local singer Bob Zachar. 

“We owe so much to the honorable and heroic men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our great nation and our freedom,” commented Mayor Bob Kellar. “The City is proud to partner with other local organizations to host the Veterans Day Ceremony to remember those we’ve lost, and honor those who have so bravely vowed to protect and serve our country.”

The Veterans Day Ceremony is a partnership between the City of Santa Clarita and the Veterans’ Historical Committee, the SCV Chapter 91 Blue Star Moms, Blue Star Moms of the Canyons Chapter 82, Prayer Angels for the Military, and the Knights of Columbus. 

Parking will be available at William S. Hart Park and Veterans Historical Plaza. Due to construction of the Newhall roundabout, the City is asking guests to plan ahead for traffic detours.  

For more information about the Veterans Day Ceremony, contact the City’s Arts and Events Office at (661) 250-3787. 

Arts & Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | November 1, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Hello, fellow entertainment seekers – I hope you all enjoyed your last days of October! As for myself, I sprained my ankle at the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night and was laid up in bed. I was devastated to miss out on all the fun activities this past Halloween weekend, but I’ll be back on my feet by Thursday to take my nephews trick-or-treating, which will more than make up for it. Read on for a heads up on what is going on in town and beyond this coming week, and keep sending your suggestions my way!

Fall Festival & Movie Under the Stars
COC – Canyon Country Campus
17200 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country
661-362-3802
This Friday night make your way out to the Canyon Country COC campus for a fun-filled night with the family. The Canyon Country Business Association will be hosting this great event that will feature face painting, pumpkin decorating, crafts, raffles and a screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” This special screening is the perfect setting for the Spielberg classic, as it will be presented outside underneath the stars. Make sure you bring plenty of blankets to cozy up with your loved ones. While the event itself is free, there will be vendors on site selling food and snacks. The event starts at 5pm – get there early to grab a prime viewing spot!
Santa Clarita Marathon & Health/Fitness Expo
Valencia Town Center and Hyatt Valencia
www.scmarathon.org
I know that a marathon is not really your basic arts and entertainment activity, but I had to mention the SC Marathon that is taking place this weekend. The event kicks off on Saturday with a Health and Fitness Expo that will feature health related vendors and booths. The expo is free and is taking place at the Hyatt from 9-5pm. The races begin on Sunday (11/3) at 7 a.m. and will include a full and a half marathon, a 5K, a kids’ 5K and the Mayor’s Walk. A friend of mine will be participating in the full marathon and I will be there to cheer him on, so remember that you don’t actually have to participate in the races to be part of the excitement. Make spectator signs (“Run like you stole something!”) and support your friends and family as they race their way to the finish line!

“Dia de los Muertos” Festival
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
http://www.ladayofthedead.com/
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated around the world. The holiday focuses on gathering to remember friends and family members who have passed away. Traditions include building private altars (ofrendas), honoring the deceased using sugar skulls and flowers, mainly marigolds, and visiting graves with these as gifts. This event, now in its 14th year, will take place on Saturday, November 2 from 12 p.m. to midnight. You are encouraged to dress in costume, so whip out your best skeletal make-up and flower headbands! There will be live music, arts and crafts, Aztec rituals and dance performances, food trucks and much more. This year’s theme is “The Magical World of Alebrijes,” which are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures, so you know the festival will be vibrant with art and color. What an excellent way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones, no sad faces here, just a lot of good cheer and happy memories!

Remember the Mark & Brian Show on KLOS?
Well, Brian Phelps, one part of the popular duo, will be on the Gazette Radio Hour this Friday! The popular “Mark & Brian” radio show blended comedy sketches, listener phone calls, interviews with in-studio guests, and the occasional road trip, and was always so much fun to listen to. Make sure you tune in this Friday from 1-2 p.m. to listen to what this popular disc jockey has been up to. You can listen to KHTS on 1220 AM, so make sure you tune in.

Remember, fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net

Holiday Returns for Candymakers

| Community, Gazette | October 30, 2013

Candy may be dandy, but most parents stress the excess, especially at Halloween. Thanks to a local chiropractor, every year families in the SCV get some relief from the holiday candy build-up.

Dr. Roger De Sesa, a local representative from the non-profit Foundation for Wellness Professionals, also a wellness chiropractor and champion of healthy habits, will once again reward candy “turn-ins.” The “Candy to Music” program means that Friday, November 1 and Monday, November 4 anyone – clients or not – can drop off excess candy in exchange for a raffle for an iPod Shuffle. At the deadline for the last drop off—Monday, November 4 at 6 p.m.—a winner will be drawn.

“We want to do everything we can to eliminate childhood obesity and diabetes, so we really wanted our candy return to make a statement,” said Dr. De Sesa. “After we’ve collected all the candy, we’ll be returning it to the candymaker with a personal note.”

The note to the candymaker will say (paraphrase): “Here at De Sesa Chiropractic we are doing what we can to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes. In exchange for your candy, we gave away an iPod Shuffle. Here is your candy back.”

Candy can be donated Friday, November 1 or Monday, November 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 3 to 6 p.m. De Sesa’s office is located at 27674 Newhall Ranch Road, Suite 65 in Valencia.

The Foundation for Wellness Professionals (FWP) is a non-profit organization made up of more than 1,000 doctors and other healthcare professionals nationwide. Its purpose is to offer up-to-date, safe and effective natural solutions to common healthcare concerns through free workshops and screenings. The foundation’s underlying goal is to build a community of healthier and happier individuals. For more information, email DrRogerDeSesa@WellnessSpeakers.org or inspired4optimalhealth@gmail.com, or visit http://wellnessspeakers.org/.

Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | October 26, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Halloween is next week, so this article will be dedicated entirely to haunted thrills! I attended two haunted attractions last week in L.A. that are definitely worth the drive for you scare enthusiasts – mini reviews are below. If you have to choose only one, go with “Delusion,” but be warned that it is not for the faint of heart – they even make you sign a waiver before entering. I hope you have all had a great, festive and spooky month…and feel free to drop off any extra trick or treat candy at our offices!

Delusion: Masque of Mortality
Bethany Presbyterian Church
1629 Griffith Park Blvd in Los Angeles
www.enterdelusion.com

This is my second year attending “Delusion,” and honestly the one attraction I was looking forward to most, based on last year’s performance. “Delusion” bills itself as an interactive horror experience, and if you’re looking for psychological thrills, an intriguing story, frightening characters, impressive special effects and phenomenal sets, this haunted attraction has it all.

The story is one of sickness and despair, of a land ravaged by the plague, from which you and your friends seem to be immune. You arrive at the scene, an abandoned and spectacularly spooky church, seeking refuge from it all, and you encounter a group of “doctors” with promises of health, but after time deliver nothing but despair.

The whole experience lasts about an hour and you will be led through with a small group, one you will become very close with during the night. At times you will find yourself separated from the safety of your new friends and asked to perform specific tasks, which will definitely pull you outside of your comfort level.

“Delusion” is not your typical haunted house, rather a haunted theatrical experience…one unique and revolutionary in its time. It will pull you into crevices of fear you might not even know existed, but you will enjoy every minute of it. It is one of the most creative, jaw-dropping, truly frightening haunts I have ever encountered. It runs through November 23, and tickets are selling out fast – so make sure to grab yours now!

Blumhouse of Horrors – The Purge: Fear the Night
Variety Arts Theater
940 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.
www.purgelive.com

“The Purge: Fear the Night” is created by Blumhouse Productions, the horror masterminds behind “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious.” It is based on the film ”The Purge,” which was released earlier this year and takes place in a world that is crime free, due to a yearly one-day “purge,” where all emergency services are cut off and everyone can wreak havoc without repercussions. In this interactive recreation, participants find themselves in the middle of The Purge, thrown into the horror of the experience and trying to make it out alive.

The action starts the second you walk in, when you are introduced to the New Founders of America organization and issued a membership badge. You will then be pushed (alone!) through a pitch-black corridor that will eventually lead you to an auditorium where you will await your adventure. Here you will listen to actors on stage praise The Purge and its accomplishments and rebuke the rebels, who you will be running from in due time. The set up so far was impressive, but the events that followed were perhaps a bit too chaotic, even for a story that is founded on chaos.

“The Purge” takes place in an old vaudeville theater with six floors and 70,000 square feet to utilize. You will be led through the night by a number of actors who continuously shout demands and point guns at you. Your group will need to perform tasks to advance in the story, but the majority of the time, my group was left in confusion about what to do next.

I can say this about “The Purge: Fear the Night,” which will set it apart from the rest of the L.A. attractions; it does not rely on the supernatural to invoke scares. Rather, it emphasizes the natural cruelty and madness of the human spirit and offers us a glimpse into a world that may not be as inconsequential as we imagine. It runs through November 2 and tickets start at $39.

Heritage Haunt
William S. Hart Park
2401 Newhall Ave in Newhall
661-254-1275
www.scvhaunt.com

For those of you looking to stay local for your haunts, make sure to check out the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society’s Heritage Haunt, which has been scaring the SCV since 2007. Running 10/25 and 10/26 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., it will feature two terrifying mazes, a spirit graveyard and much more. Admission is $10, but if you bring two canned food items to be donated to the SCV Food Pantry, you will receive $5 off your admission. There is also an option to enhance your experience by participating in the annual Ghost Hunt! For $65 you can join the SCV Ghost Hunters for an evening of spirit seeking.

Remember fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net.

Honoring “Jack Jack” with Music Benefit for Brain Tumor Research at CHLA

| Community, Gazette | October 25, 2013


“Jack’s (very) BIG Music Benefit” is the name of a very special fundraiser next month, sponsored by Jack’s Angels. The public is invited to attend a concert, held at the West Ranch High School Performing Arts Center on Sunday, November 24 from 4-8 p.m., featuring world class classical and contemporary music artists.

Proceeds will go to pediatric brain tumor research, in honor of James-William “Jack” Demeter of Acton, who died when he was just under four years old. The event offers awareness and support for research of DIPG, a pediatric brainstem tumor, comprising roughly 10 percent of pediatric brain tumor incidents, yet 80 percent of pediatric brain tumor deaths, says Janet Demeter, Jack’s mother and president of Jack’s Angels.

Peter Marsh, violinist and a founder of Chamber Music America, as well as “Trudeau LA”, a Los Angeles band comprised of world-class musicians, along with several performances from promising young artists, will highlight the evening, including a raffle, fine art displays, and food from local vendors.

The Performing Arts Center is located at 26255 Valencia Blvd. in Stevenson Ranch. Ticket reservations can be made online at:  www.jacktickets.org, and more information is available at www.musicforjack.org.

Jack’s Angels is in its first year as a 501(c)3 public charity, dedicated to raising awareness for DIPG and funding research for, like Jack, the 200-300 new children diagnosed with DIPG each year in the U.S. alone.

Assistance League Celebrates 25th Anniversary and 6th Annual “Sunset in the Vineyard”

| Community, Gazette | October 24, 2013

Amanda Hezel, Jeannie Carpenter, and Marca Johnson at Compa Vineyard planning for Assistance League of Santa Clarita’s sixth annual Sunset In The Vineyard

While celebrating its “silver anniversary” of 25 years since its formation, Assistance League® Santa Clarita announces will hold the 6th Annual “Sunset in the Vineyard” next month.

Held in Newhall’s Compa Vineyard, located on the property of Jeannie and Chris Carpenter and Tim Carpenter, the event will take place Sunday, November 3 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Locally crafted wine, beer and food will be served, and music will add to the atmosphere. Proceeds directly benefit Assistance League Programs serving the Santa Clarita Valley.

During the 2012 -13 fiscal year, $164,000 was spent on philanthropic programs by the non-profit group, which directly impacted the lives of 3,163 members of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Assistance League’s signature program, Operation School Bell ®, provided clothes and shoes to 2,050 students, reflecting a 50 percent increase in the number of junior high students served.

Assistance League’s newest program, Board Buddies, served 90 students at Newhall Elementary School.  Member volunteers spent an hour a month playing board games with students in the after-school program. Teddy Bear Patrol provided comforting teddy bears to 300 children experiencing a traumatic event via local fire departments, emergency rooms, police departments and social service organizations. Two hundred residents at the Santa Clarita Convalescent Center enjoyed monthly home cooked meals in a festive atmosphere, along with birthday and holiday gifts. Through the Emergency Community Assistance Program, 23 people were provided assistance with clothing, food and necessities to help get through challenging situations. Assistance League also worked with community junior high schools to provide much needed supplies to students, such as notebooks, backpacks, pens, and pencils. Sheet music, programs and supplies for home economics were also provided to the schools to help keep programs running smoothly.

Said chairpersons Amanda Hezel and Marca Johnson, “We look forward to welcoming members of the community on November third from 2 to 5 p.m., as we pay homage to the amazing talents of our local wine and beer makers, while enjoying lovely food offerings in a beautiful vineyard, all while helping Assistance League continue to increase our philanthropic efforts.”

For more information, contact Ellie Hull at 661-755-9478 or e-mail info@assistanceleaguesantaclarita.org. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 at the door and includes a souvenir crystal wine glass and complimentary valet parking. They can be purchased by going to www.assistanceleaguesantaclarita.org.  Follow the group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sunsetinthevineyard.

Local Artist Exhibits

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

Local artist Laura Wambsgans has artwork all over the southland. Closest to home, she is a part of the Santa Clarita Art Classic XXIV, where she will have one painting, “Canyon Trail,” this year. The annual art show is this weekend, October 19-20. The Art Exhibit Opening Gala is on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. Dressy attire and tickets are required for the event. The public is invited for free, however, on Sunday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to view the art, at William S. Hart Hall, 24151 Newhall Avenue in Newhall. For information visit www.santaclaritaartists.org.

Wambsgans’ artwork will also be featured this weekend at the 22nd Annual Craftsman Weekend Exposition in Pasadena.  This will be her fourth year participating and it draws crowds who favor the Craftsman style of décor. It will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 – Sunday Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A, at 300 E. Green St. in Pasadena. Visit www.pasadenaheritage.org/craftsmanweekend.

A little later on the calendar, you can find Wambsgans’ paintings at La Galeria Gitana in the exhibit, “Glorious California: The Lay of Its Land.” The show will run from November 2 – December 21, 2013. The first day, November 2, is the opening reception, and the second day, November 3, is a free concert featuring the Kadima String Quartet at 2:00 p.m. La Galeria Gitana is located at 120 N. Maclay Ave. in San Fernando. Contact the gallery to reserve a free seat by calling (818) 898-7708.

Canyon Theatre Guild’s “Dial M for Murder” Slashes Through the SCV

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Treachery, lies, deceit and murder have plagued our peaceful town, and The Canyon Theatre Guild is to blame. The theatre group’s current run of Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder” is playing through November 8 and promises theatergoers a chilling good time. Armed with a classic screenplay and a talented cast, this production is a great way to spend a weekend evening with your spouse – infidelity and murder aside, of course.

The plot centers on Margot and Tony Wendice, played by McKy Brazina and Gabe Lawrence, a married couple living in London. After Margot has a tryst with American television crime writer Max Haliday, played by Cruze Flores, the marriage, which was never based on love (Tony openly admits he married for money) takes a turn for the worse with blackmail, lies and a convoluted plot for murder. When Tony coerces Captain Lesgate (Tom Lund) to murder his wife, the plan goes awry and ultimately ends up with the murderer getting murdered, the victim condemned to hang, and the evil mastermind behind it all free of charges. But in a story that thrives off thrills, twists and suspense, no one is safe and the surprises keep on coming.

Alfred Hitchcock adapted “Dial M for Murder” in the 1950s, and it became an instant whodunit classic starring Grace Kelly. The plot itself should really be quite simple, but the writing style of the author turns it into a long, complicated, almost unnecessary labyrinth of dialogue and abstruseness. The CTG, in its version, sticks closely to the original screenplay and offers us an enjoyable three-hour show.

The actors all do a fine job portraying their respective characters. Brazina shines as the wealthy wife who finds herself on death row, and Lawrence is alluringly evil as her conniving husband. Flores does a fine job playing Haliday, but at times I was left wondering whether or not his dopey demeaner was a play off of the belief that the English view some Americans as unsophisticated.

The real star of the night was perhaps not one of the actors themselves but the telephone, which the story revolves around – it is, after all, “DIAL M for Murder.” The actors used the prop quite a bit, and their conversations were broadcast to the audience from pre-recordings. There were a number of times when the timing was off, sometimes resulting in questions being answered before the actual question was asked, actors being cut off by the recording, or the telephone ringing while the actors were already using it. The end result was highly entertaining and brought laughter to the austere storyline.

“Dial M for Murder” is definitely an enjoyable experience, its strength being faithfulness to the original script. Overall, the Canyon Theatre Guild delivers a fine show, one whose flaws are outdone by the charm they bring to this delightful murder mystery.

“Dial M for Murder” is playing at Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 Main Street, Newhall, through November 8. For tickets or information call 661-799-2702 or visit www.canyontheatre.org.

Six Flags Fright Fest

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Every October Six Flags’ Magic Mountain turns off the lights, conjures up the undead and invites everyone into the haunted world of “Fright Fest.” Running through the end of the month, this Halloween attraction offers spook enthusiasts a night full of haunted mazes, devilish scare zones, scary stage shows and enough bone-chilling fun to drive even the Looney Tunes loonier!

I was invited to attend Fright Fest this past weekend and naturally jumped at the opportunity – I can never say no to a good scare. Unlike most haunted theme park attractions, Six Flags allows park goers who are already enjoying the rides during the day to pay a small additional fee for the night frights.

For others, they close and reopen the park to a whole new set of guests who have to pay the full admission again, plus a hefty additional fee. So, for one low price you can enjoy, as the motto promises, “thrills by day,” and “frights by night.”

Fright Fest offers up eight haunted mazes this year, and a handy “Fright Guide” ranks them on a scare level of 1-10 for us. I headed to the highest on the scare scale first. “The Aftermath,” a post-apocalyptic city overrun with nomad warriors was given a 10. The scenes and backdrops in this maze were impressive and very professional – it truly invoked an end-of-the-world feel. The actors did a fine job of scaring us, but the real horror was in the environment around us. It was chilling and frightening in a realistic way – no cheap scares needed here.

“Toyz of Terror” was also given a 10, and in a maze that is “not intended for children under 12,” I could appreciate the irony. We were guided through a defunct toy factory where the inventor had gone mad and added benevolent spirits to all of his creations. Dolls, wind-ups, jack-in-the-boxes, and teddy bears all run rampant in this maze, terrorizing the guests. It was a great homage to our childhood memories tainted with devilish nightmares.

“Willoughby’s Resurrected” took me on a trip through the family’s Victorian mansion that has long been inhabited by evil spirits. Now, I’ve been to dozens of haunted houses in my life, and this one has to be one of my favorites. There is literally a scare around every single corner – in front of you, beside you and behind you there is always someone waiting to scare you. You won’t even be able to finish one frightened yelp before you are hit with another. And it works every single time! I don’t think I’ve screamed and jumped so many times in a span of a couple of minutes ever before. After a while, you won’t know whether to laugh, cry or keep screaming, but the only thing that matters is how much fun you’re having. If you’re able to take in the scenery around you it is really quite beautiful, with hints of gothic Victorian charm throughout.

New to the park this year is “Total Darkness,” which is exactly what the name promises. You will be led in a small group through a pitch black maze in the back of one of the park’s theaters. You will encounter some spirits along the way, and even though you won’t be able to see them, it is the mere fact that they are out there in the dark waiting for you that makes this all the more frightening. You won’t want to miss this one.

Other mazes include “Weepy Hills INSANEtorium,” “Black Widow,” “Chupacabra” and “Cursed.” Make sure you schedule time to check them all out, as they are all deserving of your shrieks.

There are seven scare zones scattered around the park, which make the monsters almost impossible to avoid. Prepare to meet demons, zombies, barbarian humanoids, werewolves, 10-foot tall ghouls, evil gypsies and everything in between as you make your way to the attractions. Six Flags really did a great job of making sure the actors were not only professional in demeanor, but also that their make-up and costumes were realistic and exceptionally horrific. My witch hat goes off to them!

In addition to all of these delightful horrors, there are a number of regular attractions that offer up a little added scare. You can ride most of the roller coasters in the dark and even ride the famous Colossus backwards! Make sure you make time between the mazes to try a couple of these out.

Halloween is my all-time favorite time of year. I adore monsters and things that go bump in the night. I have been fascinated by all things horror since I was a little girl and was highly impressed by the work put into this event. The realism and overall respect and admiration for the horror genre is evident in everything you will see. Six Flags set out to scare their visitors and in doing so created an event that is highly worthy of our screams. And scream you will.

For information or tickets to “Fright Fest,” visit www.frightfest.sixflags.com.

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