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On the Town with Jason Wright Downs

| Community, Entertainment | August 15, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town!

I enjoy many different aspects of our vast and ever-changing culture, from the Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl to cutting a rug at Mabel’s Roadhouse (even though you won’t find a single rug in the entire joint); from new films to classic theater, from delightful books to delicious bites, from walking tours to hikes and bikes…we’re fortunate enough to live in one of the great entertainment meccas of the world. Join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer!

Here’s what I got up to this week: The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson downtown, an opening at the TAG Art Gallery on the Miracle Mile and dinner at Piccola Trattoria in Canyon Country.

First of all, who doesn’t love a good farce? How many plays have you seen that make you laugh so hard and so long your face almost falls off? You don’t see many truly good slapstick spoofs, and The Play That Goes Wrong was right on the money. Pure silliness, pure fun.

The Ahmanson Theater, directly across a beautiful park from City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, continually puts on quality work that the family and I all enjoy. The play that goes horribly wrong in The Play That Goes Wrong is called “The Murder at Haversham Manor” – a 1920’s murder mystery (which doesn’t actually exist). From beginning to end the prat falls and pranks do not disappoint as we watch a desperate bunch of players do their best, and fail miserably, to get through a single performance without becoming victims of crashing set pieces or murdering each other (for real). As my wife often says, “Why is watching someone fall on their face always so funny?”

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(We can unpack all that implies on some other occasion.)

My mother-in-law, Margaret Raab, is a Valencia resident. She moved from Buffalo, New York two years ago after teaching art to middle school students for 25 years. To say that she’s taken to being a “California Girl” like a pro surfer takes to the waves is an understatement. She is also taking the art scene by storm.

Since moving here, Peggy, as her friends and family call her, has had her art accepted into many of the best galleries around Los Angeles County, from Newhall to the Huntington, including the TAG Gallery on the Miracle Mile near Beverly Hills. It’s a pretty big deal! The gallery was beautiful, the art was exciting, and the wine was cheap (but plentiful), so a good time was had by all.

Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) was the big celeb sighting at the gallery, which convinced us all my mother-in-law had officially hit the big time.

Everyone turned out for the TAG’s 14th annual 2019 California Open, which is a national juried exhibition celebrating contemporary and modern art. The piece that won the event was a stunningly detailed pencil drawing of a woman holding her face in her hands; very dark, emotional, and well done. Here’s the painting that won my mother-in-law her place in the highly-acclaimed show…it’s called The Kiss.

Pretty incredible, eh? (And yes, it’s for sale. Visit www.margaretraab.com and feast your eyes.)

When we moved to SCV from New York five years ago, I never would’ve guessed that the great Italian food in the “city that never sleeps” could be rivaled by a tucked away, little hidden gem in Canyon Country,…but, oh boy was I wrong!

Santa Clarita’s best kept secret is out: Piccola Trattoria is the real deal. And here’s a tip if you want to eat anywhere around 6pm — you may want to book your reservation well in advance. The Trattoria is busy and for good reason.

I’ve only been to Italy a couple of times in my life (so far) and let me tell you from my limited palate and experience, when you close your eyes and take a bite of their lasagna, you may as well be in Firenze! (For me, it was a toss up between the lasagna and the veal parmesan as the winning dish of the evening…my wife was for the shrimp risotto all the way.) Even our lovely waiter, Serge, was a recent Italian transplant!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Italy, try this for yourself: Order anything on the menu at Piccola, scoop up that fork full of fresh melt-in-your-mouth pasta (or whatever you fancy), close your eyes (after the fork is in your mouth…we don’t want anyone losing an eye), and you will instantly be transported to the Piazza del Duomo.

So, there it is, folks. Feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. You can reach me at: reachjasondowns@santaclariagazette.com.

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appetit!

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