THE SANTA MONICA CIVIC AUDITORIUM
Every week for nearly seven years I have researched and compiled a collection of great performances around LA in the coming weeks, that I personally recommend. I would be there for every one of them if that were possible, or even practical. The LA Philharmonic, LA Opera and Hollywood Bowl performances can be incredible, but it often involves a two-hour drive across LA, then parking, plus walking. I sympathize: sometimes that’s just too much time and trouble, to even think about.
So consider this. What if some great performances were a short drive or even walking distance, in a small venue? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that be the kind of thing Santa Monica could be known for, instead of some of the terrible things we are now being branded with?
It was that way for decades. Our Santa Monica Civic was known worldwide as a great little venue right by the ocean, where so many legendary artists chose to perform. The Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Supremes, The Beach Boys. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here, as did the Dalai Lama. The Academy Awards were handed out here for eight years.
To say this venue is historic is quite an understatement. We, the residents of Santa Monica, still own it and the land it is on. It is in disrepair but certainly not beyond bringing back to life.
But there are people and groups, who would like to get their hands on it, and they would not bring it back to life.They want the cash, maybe nine figures. But can you put a price on our history, tied up in that building? A lot of us say no, and are fighting to make it a part of Santa Monica’s future history. You don’t get a second chance on something like this.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: .
“A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE ‘’ – I know, it’s barely September, but time to hand out the 2023 Santa Monica Theater Awards. Sure, the Ruskin Group could come up with another blockbuster by the end of the year, and “Library Girl,” also at the Ruskin, is a threat every month to blow your literary mind, but – Arthur Miller. A stunning piece of writing and storytelling, and unforgettable character sketches, plumbing the human condition and soul, from that brilliant author’s mind. On the subject of immigrants in America, and how they fit into the fabric. In a very human, personal way. Scene by scene, sentence by sentence, we are left hanging on where he will next take us, and it is often revelatory. But not without the proper delivery, and award #2 goes to the actors here, top to bottom, but especially the four principals, who made you feel you were watching your neighbors, despite the setting and the time. When the Ruskin folks got Ray Abruzzo (“The Sopranos”) for the lead, they probably set off fireworks. He is a force of nature. Fri 8 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SMO, $20-30.
THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – from their website: “Hot Club’s brand of virtuoso, Django-style 1930s gypsy swing jazz is found nowhere else and even if it were, it couldn’t possibly be this good. These guys are masters, individually and collectively. You will find it hard to stop smiling all night. – Santa Monica Daily Press” And still show up every Monday night here, for 12 years. Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.
“A PERFECT GANESH” – Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is celebrating its 50th year of operation – amazing! – and while their forte is Shakespeare they always throw in one other unusual play per season, to make us think. This Terrence McNally play finds humor within the self-searching American abroad. Two friends travel to India with heavy baggage, reeling from loss and personal demons.. Fri 7:30 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $15-60.
“MACBETH” – In this bloody, depraved corner, M’Lord and M’Lady, reigning still as the unchallenged monstrous couple of political pushiness, gruesome greed, absolute ambition and murderous mayhem. Some things never change. No wonder this one by Will (Shakespeare, not Geer) remains perhaps his best-known work (but hardly beloved). Sat 7:30 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $15-60.
“QUEEN MARGARET’S VERSION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WAR OF THE ROSES” – This Theatricum production encompassing Henry VI Part I, II, III, and Richard III, is stitched together in a way that becomes a bit confusing, and as far as it “centers on the women and children of this UK civil war saga,” well, a whole lot of them wound up dead. The acting is, as always, top notch, but – nearly three hours is just a bit long despite the fantastic sword fights. Sun 7:30 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $15-60.
TOLEDO DIAMOND – Unique, riveting, first class act. There’s nothing like it, it is high performance art and great fun. Degeneracy is rarely so well disciplined. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.
“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” – TB specializes in Shakespeare, and they do “Midsummer” every year. They do tinker with it a little, and that means if you saw it last year, or 10 years ago, you will see something a bit different. Who doesn’t love it? Puck, yes! Mon 6:30 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $15-60.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: BACH, MENDELSOHN, LA PHIL, Hollywood Bowl, 9/7; “A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 9/8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24; “QUEEN MARGARET’S VERSION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WAR OF THE ROSES,” Theatricum Botanicum, 9/9. 17, 24; LIBRARY GIRL, Rusdkin Group Theatre, 9/10; “A PERFECT GANESH,” 9/10, 16, 24, 30; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 9/10, 17, 24; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 9/11, 18, 25; HOLST “THE PLANETS,” PHILLIP GLASS, LA PHIL, Hollywood Bowl. 9/12; “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” Theatricum Botanicum, 9/14, 21; SAMANTHA FISH, Teragram Ballroom, 9/14; “MACBETH,” Theatricum Botanicum, 9/17, 23; GERALD CLAYTON, ELENA PINDERHUGHES, Jazz Bakery/Zipper Hall, 9/17; RONNIE MACK’S BARN DANCE, McCabe;s, 9/17; JOHN LEGEND with Orchestra, Gospel Choir, Hollywood Bowl, 9/23; JACKSHIT, McCabe’s, 9/30; LA PHIL GALA Celebrating FRANK GEHRY, Disney Hall, 10/5; STING, Hollywood Bowl, 10/7.
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 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com (the real mr music…)