You’ve probably noticed that Putin pawn WNBA star Brittney Griner has worn a JIMI HENDRIX t-shirt to one of her Russian court appearances. Pretty bold, to display your admiration of a creative genius who was also known to be a drug user, and died from it. I think she knows exactly what she’s doing, and I say that shirt should be a Get Out of Jail card. And go into some Hall of Fame after her hopefully imminent release. C’mon Putin, pick on someone your own size.
“GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” – This superb production, beset by natural disasters like COVID and a death in the family, was due to close last weekend but has now been extended into August. Sadly, it is every bit as relevant now than when the Tracy-Hepburn classic film was released in 1967. So… run, don’t walk, don’t miss it. We never know what will happen tomorrow. There are nine actors involved, whereas most theater companies are going with two or three, during COVID. That’s a lot of chances of a star player being felled. It also drives expenses through the roof: recent CA law AB5, intended to protect independent contractors, devastated certain sets of workers: Ruskin Producing Artistic Director Mike Myers told the audience their costs are up 1,700% over pre-AB5. Then there is other stuff: two days before a recent performance the actor who plays the father character (Spencer Tracy in the movie) lost his mother and had to immediately get on a plane. Veteran Paul Linke stepped in and performed brilliantly, even while holding his script the entire time. Amazing. Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $20-35.
THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – One of LA’s music treasures, holding forth with their breakneck Django-style swing music in the cozy Culver City dive, on Sepulveda just over the line from Santa Monica, that is also a treasure. I will mention every so often that Santa Monica’s Harvelle’s dates from 1931, but the Cinema Bar is almost 75. That’s a long time to build up a following, character, reputation and a vibe, and both venues have it. But the music is the thing, right? You could go from Harvelle’s on Sunday night (see below) to The Hot Club Monday then back to Harvelle’s Tuesday (see below). Three very different shows, rare or unique, and all top caliber. You would spend a total of $22 for cover charges. I tell you, it’s gigs like this that make putting up with Santa Monica worth it. Every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.
EM – She’s back! And she’s still amazing. But nothing good lasts forever, you know. Don’t push your luck. So why not go this Tuesday night? Betcha, you’ll thank me. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.
LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, BEETHOVEN’S FIFTHS – Meaning, we get both the final magnificent piano concerto of the Master, “The Emperor,” then the familiar, powerful “5th Symphony,” Seong-Jin Cho, piano. Tues (invitational rehearsal, 9:30 a.m.) 8 p.m., Hollywood Bowl, $18-92.
LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, LA MASTER CHORALE – CARMINA BURANA – Many years ago an astute friend handed me a recorded version of this choral classic and said, it’s like opera, but it isn’t. “I don’t really like opera,” I protested (that’s how long ago it was). You’ll like this, she promised, and she was right. The text is a collection of cantatas from the 11th – 12th centuries, bawdy, irreverent, “profane,” satirical. Unless you’re fluent in medieval Latin, High Middle German and Old French, that won’t make any difference. German composer Carl Orff wrote the music for a collection of 24 poems in 1936 and it is brilliant, powerful, moving, and sounds like heavenly, liturgical music. This will be an experience you don’t want to miss. Hollywood Bowl, Next Thurs,
THEATRICUM BOTANICUM – You can get the full summer program this weekend. Bring a sleeping bag and two days’ picnic breakfasts, lunches and dinners. (Not a serious suggestion.)
“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” – It’s their signature Shakespeare, presented every season for decades, and why not? It’s an enduring audience favorite for more than 400 years, a magical tale of unrequited love taking place in an enchanted forest, and TB is already nestled into their own forest. Fri 7:30 p.m.
“TROUBLE THE WATER” – is the riveting, barely believable true story of Robert Smalls’ escape from slavery, in a most creative and bold way. Making real the notion that slavery is so abhorrent that one will do anything, anything, to end it. TB is so good at these kinds of topical plays that leave you with a lot to think about. Sat 7:30 p.m. (“pay what you will” performance)
“MERRY WIVES” is transported to small town America, 1950s, with music to match the rollicking fun. Wait until you see Falstaff ride in on a big Harley. But it’s not all hilarity – there is an undercurrent of the blossoming women’s rights movement. Sun 3:30 p.m.
“WESTSIDE WALTZ” – TB artistic director Ellen Geer (daughter of legendary TB founder actor-activist Will Geer), her half-sister Melora Marshall and daughter Willow Geer, take on the roles of an aging concert pianist, her violinist spinster neighbor, and a would-be actress on New York’s Upper West Side in the tumultuous ‘80s. What a rare and remarkable acting lineage on display in this play, penned by Oscar-winner Ernest Thompson (“On Golden Pond”). Sun 7:30 p.m.
All shows Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-60 (discounts for seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA, ages 5-15).
BURNING SPEAR – Books have been written about Winston Rodney and her influence on reggae, so you’ll just have to go read one. He’s 77 but looks 100 years older. A real, live legend. Sun 8 p.m., Youtube Theater, $23-89.
TOLEDO DIAMOND — The true hipster (when that sobriquet meant something way cool), choreographer to the stars, smoky Svengali, showman supreme. Toledo and his unquestionably unique show always pleases, if you are ready for the very different. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.
Tribute to PEGGY and FRANK with BILLIE EILISH, DEBBY HARRY, SETH MCFARLANE, DIANNE REEVES, BETTYE LAVETTE – Peggy Lee would have been 100, the Bowl is 100, perfect. This sounds like so much fun. One of those once-in-a-lifetime shows., Wed 8 p.m., Hollywood Bowl, $47-112.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ,” 7/29, 8/6, 12, 21, 27; “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,” 7/30, 8/7, 13, 19, 28; “TROUBLE THE WATER,” 7/31, 8/5, 14, 20, 26; ; “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” 7/31, Theatricum Botanicum; DANCE DTLA, Argentine Tango 7/29, The Music Center; “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 7/30, 31, 8/19, 20, 21; THE IMPERIAL CROWNS, Harvelle’s, 7/30; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 7/31, 8/7, 14, 21, 28; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 8/1, 8, 15,22, 29; EM, Harvelle’s, 8/2, 9, 16, 23, 30; JOHN FOGERTY, Hollywood Bowl, 7/30; MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD, The Ford, 7/31; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, ESPERANZA SPALDING, Hollywood Bowl, 8/2..
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org