Josh Groban, the internationally renowned singer and actor, makes his first-ever appearance at The Broad Stage, with a benefit performance on September 14 to support The Broad Stage’s Arts Education and Community Programs. The ticket you buy helps bring 20,000 students, teachers, families and community members to the Broad Stage for special matinees, family programs and more at this crown jewel of Santa Monica College’s Performing Arts Center.

Though these tickets come at a premium price ($500 to $2500), privileges at the top end include perks like a pre-show reception, premiere seating, a post-show dinner under the stars, as well as a private meet-and-greet with Josh Groban.

It’s a cause worth supporting: inspiring curiosity in a diverse audience by offering a lifelong connection to the arts. Find out more about tickets here:

www.thebroadstage.org/joshgroban  

THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT

What happens when evil corporate profiteers band together and decide to destroy Paris to get at oil beneath its streets? An optimistic “madwoman” (read: non-conformist) and her eccentric friends decide to prevent them from turning their world into a terrible place. This feminist David-and-Goliath tale of crazies and outcasts taking on dastardly villains results in a whole lot of laughter … and a happy ending. Rare enough these days.

That’s basically the plot of “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” and simple as it sounds, it packs a punch with its poetic and comedic prose. In our own time, we hear of plans to dig up the Grand Canyon and other public national monuments to get at natural resources for private gain. So maybe this play written by Jean Giraudoux in 1943 isn’t so dated after all.

Need proof? Glendale’s highly-regarded A Noise Within classic theatre company is putting on a fully-staged version of this play that one reviewer described as “one part fantasy, two parts reason,” September 17 – November 11.  http://www.anoisewithin.org/

And right here in our own backyard, Santa Monica Rep Reads brings it to life as a staged reading at The Edye, the smaller black box theatre just behind the Broad Stage, on Sunday September 24 at 4 p.m.

For seven years, SM Rep has been presenting play readings to the community and giving audiences the opportunity to engage in a direct and ongoing conversation about relevant and enduring themes. Recently they read “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” Lorraine Hansberry’s last staged play before her untimely death. The series is an easy entry into the world of theatrical language and invention.

Affordable tickets can be found here: https://www.thebroadstage.org/santamonicarepsept

SWOON! OUTLANDER’S BACK!!!

I came to the party late and had a lot of binge-watching to do to catch up. And no, I did not read the books by Diana Gabaldon upon which the series is based. But let me tell you, I felt head over heels in love with “Outlander” on the STARZ cable network. Now it’s coming back for its third season, starting this Sunday at 8 p.m.

Don’t know the story? Well settle in for a time traveling romance adventure with nurse Claire, newly married to Frank, after World War II. On a hike to a mystical hillock with some henge-like stone pillars, they see a “mysterious highlander,” and then lose sight of one another. As soon as she puts her hands on one of the monumental rocks, she is dramatically transported through time back to the 1700s.

After being confronted by a horrifically cruel and sadistic British officer, Black Jack Randall, who happens to be Frank’s ancestor (and physical twin), later she meets Jamie (the mysterious highlander), possibly the hunkiest Scotsman in the history of the universe (ok, Sean Connery fans, don’t all jump on me at once!), who brings her into his fold. As the series gets underway, Black Jack will haunt both Claire and Jamie in different, but equally traumatic ways.

She becomes quite the advisor and accomplice to Jamie in his attempts to navigate the politics of the time (she has the benefit of historical hindsight), and in the Jacobite rebellion, he signs on to restore the Stuarts (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the English throne (which ultimately fails).

She also schools him in the ways of women – he’s the most liberated male feminist of his century. Despite the bigamous implications, eventually they marry. They are each other’s truest loves.

The trials they endure, the love they share, transcends time. But after presuming Jamie’s death and defeat at the disastrous Battle of Culloden, Claire is returned to her own time, bearing his child. There’s a whole of explaining to do for Frank to come around, and later for her grown daughter (with Jamie) to understand what really happened to her mother.

The two leads, Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Sam Heughan as Jamie are so perfectly cast, and so impossibly yet approachably beautiful that the series has become completely irresistible, seductive and addictive to me.

I marvel, also, at how little I care for time travel, witchery, supernatural or sci-fi fantasy and yet am completely absorbed in the story of these timeless lovers.

Maybe you will be too – and you don’t even need to leave home to watch it!

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.

 

 

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