On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | September 12, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! 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 10 by 10 Variety Show at The MAIN (part of Thursdays@Newhall), and the bombastic, fantastic Andrews Brothers at the Canyon Theatre Guild.

Yes, it was all about Main Street Newhall this week, my friends, and let me tell you, Newhall has got it going on…no matter what day you choose to visit. The theatre was packed to the gills with ages ranging from ten-years-old (my son was the youngest in attendance) all the way up to folks in their eighties enjoying the eclectic and eccentric variety of entertainment being offered up on the intimate stage. This was a Thursday night – a school night, for goodness sake!

The endearingly droll comic, Chris Cope, kicked things off with some world-class comedy followed by storytellers Oscar Sagastume and Pablo Marz who have rocked stages from Los Angeles to Havana, Cuba with their heartfelt, hilarious, self reflective and revealing tales.

Each act was only 10-minutes long, with a total of 10 performances, and each had its own unique charm. The variety show has become a mainstay at The MAIN the first Thursday of each month and the reason is simple: It’s a real crowd pleaser. For instance, an Americana music group called GRIT transported us to a steam punk version of the Old West, while J.C. Ayres’ sweet and haunting voice was reminiscent of Joni Mitchell in her prime.


A gut wrenchingly beautiful short film about a new mother whose delivery doesn’t go as planned took me completely by surprise. I was suddenly crying in my seat, clutching my son a little closer. I highly recommend you take a look online — www.alohashortfilm.com. It’s called Aloha, and is written, directed and starring Brandi Nicole Payne. It is very touching and poignant.

My son’s favorite act was the weird and wonderful comic magician (yes, you read that correctly) Glenndalf, who graciously revealed the secret to one of his slight of hand maneuvers by repeating it in slow motion to the Chariot’s of Fire theme. Spoiler alert, the impressive prestidigitation involved snatching the card between his lips and spitting it across the room…which supposedly, when sped up, would be too fast for the audience to see. It was hilarious.

However, the most striking performance came from the Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Company, seen here:

Suddenly, the curtain was pulled back, drums were pounding out an island beat, and we were surrounded by stunning men and women performing traditional Polynesian dances with hypnotizing, hip-swiveling perfection. It was spectacular.

Who knows what’s in store the first Thursday of NEXT month, but I can’t wait to find out. My son has already put it on the calendar!

Upon hearing all the buzz about the Canyon Theatre Guild’s recent hit “The Andrews Brothers,” my brother-in-law and I decided we just couldn’t miss it. Thankfully, we caught the final evening performance on Saturday night.

Only four cast members, three men and one woman, carried us through the entire show of thirty-three classic USO-era songs, impeccably sung (mostly in three part harmony) with plenty of gaffs and guffaws thrown in for good measure. The energy of the actors was boundless and infectious. The singers were as tight as they could be and had the perfect voices to pull off the biggest gag of them all…dressing up in drag and convincing an audience of weary WWII soldiers that they are in fact the famous Andrews SISTERS. And yes, they pull it off…with only a few minor wardrobe, choreographic, Adam’s apple and hair-styling hiccups. The result is uproarious laughs from a captivated audience.

The performance was simply delightful. I laughed the hardest when they brought up two unsuspecting “privates” from the audience and made them a blushing, bumbling part of the fun. The gentleman they plucked was a retired veteran whom they ended up honoring along with the rest of our service men and women present in the crowd.

Finally, after they’d taken their bows, the performers brought up everyone who’d been involved in putting the show together (because it was the final night of the run) and this is what really sealed the deal for me: Seeing all those proud faces up on the stage it was apparent the Canyon Theatre Guild is truly a fellowship, a family and a labor of love for those involved. There were wide smiles, flowing tears, armfuls of flowers and genuine gratitude all around.

One of the terrific young men playing the central “brother” (Colin Robert) turned out to be the director’s son (Musette Caing Hart), whose girlfriend turned out to be one of the vocal directors…and the whole thing was sponsored by the Hometown Station (KHTS) just a few doors down Main Street. See what I mean? Real community theater and the very definition of community. It was a beautiful thing to behold. And what a wonderful community to be a part of!

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

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

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