Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through Feb. 2009


ALTTEXT

Robert Dowd — Pop Art Money — See Jan.17 listing

DECEMBER

Fri., Dec. 12
“Laemmle Through the Decades: 1938-2008, 70 Years in 7 Days.” It must have been an extraordinarily difficult task to select only seven films to represent the rich and diverse history of the Laemmle Theatres chain. But someone did it. For the next week, Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles will screen the seven most iconic foreign-language films to have graced the company’s silver screens, each one representing a different decade of its existence. The lineup includes “Children of Paradise” (1945, France), “La Strada” (1954, Italy), “Jules & Jim” (1962, France), “The Conformist” (1970, Italy, France and West Germany), “Fanny & Alexander” (1982, Sweden), “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988, Spain) and “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001, Mexico). Films will screen several times a day. Through Dec. 18. $7-$10. Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 477-5581. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ecogift.com.

Sat., Dec. 13
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” With a long list of Top 40 favorites, such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand by Me” and “On Broadway,” this musical mishmash of Leiber and Stoller hits is ideally jubilant for the holiday season. Since its 1995 premiere on Broadway, the 39-song revue has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, won a Grammy Award for the legendary duo’s songs and featured special appearances by megastars such as Gladys Knight, Gloria Gaynor and Rick Springfield. Starring in this NoHo production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” are DeLee Lively, Robert Torti and a host of other talented stage veterans. Special performances include tonight’s opening night gala and two New Year’s Eve shows, one with a champagne reception, the other followed by an all-out party with the cast. 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Through Jan. 4. $25-$150. El Portal Theatre, Mainstage, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 508-4200. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.benjamintrigano.com.

Sat., Dec. 13
“Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee.” Charles Phoenix is addicted to thrift store shopping. Luckily for us, Phoenix has put together a collection of the goodies he has found. Now, Moonlight Rollerway, which calls itself Southern California’s last classic roller rink, is presenting Phoenix and his quirky, retro holiday slide show. The viewing event will be followed by a roller-skating revue spectacular, featuring 75 championship skaters and celebrating the entire year’s holidays, including Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day. Snacks and an after-show skating party are included. 8 p.m. Also, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. $35. Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Road, Glendale. (818) 241-3630. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.mbfala.com.

Sun., Dec. 14
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Annual Winter Concert. There is an Academy Award-nominated documentary about this choir. It has toured Brazil, China, Italy and Poland, among other nations. And since its inception in 1986, the chorus has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Approximately 250 talented and dedicated children between the ages of 8 and 12 make up the LACC. The angelic voices of these preteen choristers will bring to life works by composers such as Aaron Copland, Pablo Casals, Randall Thompson and J.S. Bach in a winter concert inspired by literary luminaries Robert Frost, William Shakespeare and others. The program follows the 2008-2009 season theme, “The Poet Sings,” and features a varied selection of classical, folk and contemporary pieces. 7 p.m. $24-$42. Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 793-4231. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lamoth.org.

Mon., Dec. 15
Reel Talk: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Stephen Farber, film critic for Hollywood Life magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, has been treating audiences to sneak previews of the industry’s hottest films for more than 25 years. The veteran film buff concludes this year’s preview series with a fascinating film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story about a man who is born in his 80s and ages backward. Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, the odd tale is already making waves and is set to hit theaters during prime-time movie-watching season, Christmas. The screening will be followed by a discussion with members of the filmmaking team, including Oscar-nominated costume designer Jacqueline West. 7 p.m. $20. Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 365-3500. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lacma.org.

Tue., Dec. 16
Carrie Fisher presents and signs “Wishful Drinking.” It’s not easy being an action figure before you can legally drink a beer, but that didn’t stop Princess Leia from having one, or two, or many more. Fisher’s first memoir, adapted from her one-woman stage show, is a revealing look at her childhood as a product of “Hollywood in-breeding” and her adulthood in the shadow of “Star Wars.” After electroshock therapy, marrying, divorcing then dating Paul Simon, a drug addition and a bipolar disorder, Fisher still manages to take an ironic and humorous survey of her bizarre life. Meet Fisher and get a copy of her book signed at this WeHo book haven. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Fri., Dec. 19
“Peter Pan.” Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, pirates, Indians — we know the cast of characters well. But how many of us have actually seen a full production of J.M. Barrie’s classic fantasy play, “Peter Pan” — especially one that features the complete musical score by Leonard Bernstein? Composer Alexander Frey — who helped reconstruct portions of Bernstein’s score that had been previously lost for a special CD — is flying in from Berlin to conduct the live orchestra. 7 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Dec. 28. $30-$70; $10 (seniors and students). Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara. (805) 963-0761. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Wed., Dec. 24
“49th Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration.” Los Angeles’ biggest holiday show, featuring 45 groups and 1,200 performers, is a proud tradition — and it’s absolutely free! Running approximately six hours, the holiday extravaganza features the county’s cultural diversity. This year’s highlights include hip-hop group Antics Performances, South Bay Ballet and Grammy-nominated Lisa Haley and the Zydekats. Audiences will have the opportunity to listen to sounds and see sights from the world over, including Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. For those of you who can’t make it to see the event in person, KCET-TV will also be airing the event live. Sponsored by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and produced by the County Arts Commission. 3-9 p.m. Free. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3099. http:www.holidaycelebration.org.

Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through November 2008


SEPTEMBER

Fri., Sept. 12
“A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People.” Angelenos can explore the legacy of one of the Catholic Church’s most beloved popes in a new Skirball Cultural Center exhibition. Through artifacts, photographs and audiovisual recordings that first appeared at Cincinnati’s Xavier University only weeks after the pope’s death in 2005, visitors can explore the life of Pope John Paul II and the historical and personal circumstances that led him to aggressively reach out to Jews worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to enter a synagogue, recognize the State of Israel and formally apologize for the Catholic Church’s past treatment of the Jewish people. The Skirball will also offer several public programs related to the exhibition: an adult-education course on “Jesus and Judaism” and film adaptations of biblical epics, among others. Through Jan. 4. $10 (general admission), free to all on Thursdays. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.thenewlatc.com.

Sat., Sept. 13
“Speech & Debate.” The town is Salem, Ore., and, as in countless other American cities, teenagers are on the prowl for like-minded adolescents via the Internet. However, the three teenagers who find one another in “Speech & Debate” don’t just bond over music, books and movies, but are linked through a sex scandal that has rocked their community. The three adolescent misfits do what anyone else would to get to the bottom of the scandal: form their school’s first speech and debate team. Check out the West Coast premiere of the play, which critics are calling “flat-out funny.” 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Through Oct. 26. $22-$28. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 661-9827. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.plays411.com/ragtime.

Sat., Sept. 13
Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival. Camarillo is offering visitors a one-day extravaganza filled with music, artists and gourmet food, all culminating in an evening concert under the stars. The 2008 Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival will include gospel and bluegrass music, a farmers’ market and more than 50 artists showcasing their work. By evening, retro-band Royal Crown Revue will warm the stage for a secret, Grammy-nominated headliner. 8 a.m. (farmers’ market), 10 a.m. (music and art walk). $20-$60. 2400 Ventura Blvd., Old Town Camarillo. (805) 484-4383. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.apla.org.

Fri., Sept. 19
“Back Back Back” at The Old Globe. There’s nothing poignant about professional athletes using steroids. Or is there? Old Globe playwright-in-residence Itamar Moses delves into the controversial topic and takes the audience beyond the newspaper headlines and congressional hearings to the sanctuary of sports — the locker room. With humor and insight, Moses unfolds the stories of three major league baseball players who struggle to compete in the unforgiving world of professional sports, as well as balance their personal lives and professional images. The up-and-coming playwright has “clearly demonstrated tremendous talent along with a willingness to tackle complex ideas in his plays,” said The Globe’s Executive Producer Lou Spisto. Moses’ other works include “The Four of Us,” which won the San Diego Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award last year and “Bach at Leipzig.” 8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Oct. 26. $42-$59. Old Globe Arena Theatre, James S. Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.nhm.org.

Sun., Sept. 21
KCRW’S World Festival. A remarkable, eclectic lineup marks the last week of KCRW’s World Music Festival. Ozomatli toured the world, engaging audiences with its blend of Latin-, rock- and hip-hop-infused music, as well as its anti-war and human rights advocacy. The multiethnic group headlines this special night at the Hollywood Bowl, along with Michael Franti, a former member of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and his latest band Spearhead. Mexican singer Lila Downs as well as Tijuana’s premiere electronic band, Nortec Collective and its members Bostich and Fussible, will make it impossible for anyone not to get something out of the mix. If you haven’t had the chance to catch this spectacular summer concert series, don’t miss this last opportunity. 7 p.m. $10-$96. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lfla.org/aloud.

Wed., Sept. 24
Brad Meltzer signs “Book of Lies.” The New York Times best-selling mystery writer is back with a riveting new thriller that links the Cain and Abel story with the creation of Superman. Young Jerry Siegel dreamed up a bulletproof super man in 1932 when his father was shot to death. It may sound like a strange plotline, but trust Meltzer, who has written six other acclaimed page-turners as well as comic books and television shows, to produce a great read. The novel is already receiving major buzz and you can get in on the action in a variety of ways: By watching the trailer on Brad Meltzer’s Web site (yes, the book has a movie trailer), listening to the book’s soundtrack (yes, the book has a soundtrack) and by coming to a reading and book signing by the author. 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Barnes & Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 380-1636. ” target=”_blank”>http://arts.pepperdine.edu.

Sat., Sept. 27
“Skinny Bitch: A Bun in the Oven.” If there is one thing that doesn’t ever get old, it’s mocking our own culture. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin do just that in their newly released “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven,” a sequel of sorts to their best-selling cookbook “Skinny Bitch.” The book is a guaranteed laugh riot and today’s in-store reading and signing could offer a sassy twist as the two authors show up in the flesh to dish about expecting mothers. And don’t be fooled, just because the subjects of this book are in a more fragile state of mind, Freedman and Barnouin refuse to make any exceptions to their insightful and illuminating critiques. 2 p.m. $14.95 (book price). Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jamescolemanfineart.com.

Sat., Sept. 27
“Jack’s Third Show.” Long hair, dramatic eye shadow and electric guitars return for an ’80s afternoon. Billed as a benefit for autism education, radio station JACK-FM stages an edgy blend of retro and new wave rockers. Billy Idol joins Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs and Devo for a musical bash that will have you dancing all day long. 2 p.m. $29-$89. Verizon Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. (213) 480-3232. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.931jackfm.com.

Sat., Sept. 27
Museum Day. Art and cultural institutions are hoping to attract folks from all walks of life by making them an offer that’s hard to refuse: free admission to museums across Southern California. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, this event gives art lovers and art novices alike the opportunity to visit venues from the Getty Center to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, free of charge. Natural history and science museums, like the California Science Center are also participating in the event. Regular parking fees do apply and advance reservations are recommended for some exhibitions. For a complete list of participating museums, visit ” target=”_blank”>http://www.museumsla.org/news/asp.

Sat., Sept. 27
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 40th Season Opening Gala. L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s first musical director, Sir Neville Marriner, will conduct its current director, Jeffrey Kahane, in a piano solo to celebrate its 40th year. A symbolic bridge between the orchestra’s past and its future, expect to hear classical masters Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky, followed by dinner, dancing and a live auction for patrons. 6 p.m. $35-$125 (concert only), $750 (full package). The Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. Saint John Ave., Pasadena. (213) 622-7001, ext. 215.

Sitcom superstars, sultry songstresses, literary diamonds


Saturday

Bob Saget will forever be remembered as Danny Tanner from “Full House.” Now, instead of guiding the household with his wise advice and calm demeanor, Saget is exposing the sitcom family’s sexual exploits on cable television. “Bob Saget: That Ain’t Right” was taped in front of a packed audience at New York University and will debut on HBO tonight. His wildly inappropriate stand-up comedy routine covers such dirty ground as animal sex, snuff videos, prison and the personal sex lives of his former “House” mates. Although his sense of humor might make your rabbi blush, word on the street is that he is very entertaining. And a mensch.

10-11 p.m. Also, Aug. 30, Aug. 31, Sept. 4, Sept. 7, Sept. 10 and Sept. 20.

Sunday

You’ve heard of Christmas in July … now you can have Chanukah in August! Grab your gelt and head to Thousand Oaks to take part in the creation of a real holiday treat cooked up by Harvey Shield, Richard Jarboe and Chayim Ben Ze’ev. “Maccabeat!” is a rockin’ musical take on the story of Judah the Maccabee and his cooler-than-thou Greek rivals. Forbidden lovers Judah and Allura force two different cultures to confront and learn from one another. A heated battle ensues and, well, you already know the rest of this tale. Hebrew hotties, Jerusalem Valley girls and a biblical boy band — it’s the Chanukkah story like you’ve never seen it before!

Part of the Thousand Oaks Festival of New Musicals, Aug. 25-26. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. $24 (two-day pass includes admission to all four staged readings plus workshops, discussions and a festival party.) Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. For tickets call Ticketmaster, (213) 480-3232. ” border = ‘0’ vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Sophie Millman” >

Sophie Millman’s golden blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and delicate facial features recall the old days of Hollywood glamour. But this 24-year-old Russian Israeli Canadian beauty is no aspiring actress. She’s a jazz singer with a dark chocolate voice that’s set to take the U.S. by storm. Millman is touring New York and California in support of her new album, “Make Someone Happy,” and the predictions from jazz critics are that she’ll be making lots of music lovers very happy. Swoon to this chanteuse’s infectious crooning in “Rocket Love,” “Fever” and the particularly meaningful “Eli, Eli,” written by the Jewish Hungarian poet Hannah Senesh, who sacrificed her life to save her family from the Nazis.

8:30 p.m. $15. Catalina Jazz Club, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-2210. ” border = ‘0’ vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Edward Schwarzschild’ >
“The Family Diamond” is a collection of jewels. Literary gems, that is. Early reviews for Edward Schwarzschild’s second novel, comprised of nine short stories, have been sparkling: “each story is as satisfying as a full moon,” writes one author. “An achingly beautiful collection,” writes another. To see the value of the diamonds with your own eyes, visit Dutton’s tonight and meet the author, his wife and maybe the rest of his family too.

7 p.m. Free. Dutton’s Brentwood Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 476-6263. ” border = ‘0’ vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Dinah Berland”

If you’re a (Jewish) bookworm, this is your week! Not one, but two more book readings are taking place tonight. In Pasadena, teenybopper idol turned television director Robby Benson reads and discusses “Who Stole the Funny?” The satirical novel parodies the world of sitcoms and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the ditsy stars, meddling money-men and sexual escapades that Benson witnessed firsthand while directing more than 100 episodes of “Ellen,” “Friends,” “Dharma & Greg” and other hit shows. Back at Dutton’s, Dinah Berland covers a very different Jewish topic: prayers. She’ll be signing “Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda’s Book of Prayers for Jewish Women,” a restoration of a cherished 19th century prayer book.

Benson: 7 p.m. Free. Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. ” border = ‘0’ vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Clare Burson” >

Awarded one of 12 Six Points Fellowships for Emerging Jewish Artists in April, Tennessee native Clare Burson is hard at work on “Invisible Ink,” a 10-song album of original Jewish music infused with Southern Americana. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t diligently promoting her recent release “Thieves,” which showcases her warm voice and songwriting talents. She’ll be hitting up all the big towns, including ours, this summer and fall.

8 p.m. $8. Tangiers, 2138 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 666-8666.

Yo! This week it’s Yatzpan, YULA and Yelchin


Saturday the 24th

Opening today is mixed-media artist Marcie Kaufman’s exhibition “Beyond the Line,” which “explores the idea of line in the context of Israel.” Painting, photography and digital media are merged to raise questions about physical lines — such as borders, boundaries, walls, gates, wires and trees — as well as conceptual lines and limitations.

Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-8272. ‘ TARGET=’_blank’>www.yulagirls.org.

Tuesday the 27th

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Beginning this week, USC Hillel Art Gallery presents “Sleepwalking: An Exhibition of Paintings by Eugene Yelchin.” Included are works from two of the Russian Jewish artist’s series, “Sleepwalking” and “Section 5,” both of which explore his feelings of displacement, first as a Jew in Russia, and later as an immigrant in America. An opening reception and conversation with Yelchin takes place March 25.

Opening reception: Sun., March 25, 4-6 p.m. Through May 14. 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135. ‘ TARGET=’_blank’>www.dreamhouseensemble.com.

Friday the 30th

Quarterly calendar


MARCH

Fri., March 16

“Irish Writers Entertain: An Evening in the Company of Irish Writers.” One-man show starring Neil O’Shea. Part of the annual Irish Cultural Festival. Loyola Marymount University (LMU). 7:30 p.m. Free. LMU, Barnelle Black Box, Foley Building, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 338-3051.

Sat., March 17

“Cult of Childhood.” Multiple artists explore the menace and charm of childhood. Opening reception 7-10:30 p.m. Through April 15. Black Maria Gallery, 3137 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 660-9393. www.blackmariagallery.com.

Thu., March 22

Joffrey Ballet Performances. Two dance programs, one featuring live orchestra accompaniment, and the other featuring contemporary music by The Beach Boys, Prince and Motown artists. Choreography by Twyla Tharp, George Ballanchine and four others. Through March 24. $25-$115. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-0711. www.musiccenter.org/dance.

Werner Herzog Tribute and Film Retrospective. Screenings of “Heart of Glass,” “Fitzcarraldo,” “Grizzly Man,” and other films by the German director. Herzog will be discussing his work at some of the programs. American Cinematheque. Through March 25. $7-$10. Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 466-3456. www.aerotheatre.com.

Ventura County Jewish Film Festival. Film subjects include the fate of European art during the Third Reich, a French butcher who saves the lives of three Jewish children, the journey of musician Debbie Friedman and a romantic tale of unrequited love. Through March 25. $36 (festival pass), $10-$12 (individual screenings). Regency Theatre Buenaventura 6, 1440 Eastman Ave.; and Temple Beth Torah, 7620 Foothill Blvd., Ventura. (805) 647-4181. www.vcjff.org.

Sun., March 25

“Projectile Poetry.” Hosted by Theresa Antonia, Eric Howard and Carmen Vega, the program features readings by published poets as well as an open mic for newcomers. 3 p.m. Dutton’s Brentwood Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 476-6263. www.duttonsbrentwood.com.

“Requiem.” World premiere of Christopher Rouse’s musical piece, performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and baritone Sanford Sylvan. Conducted by Grant Gershon. 7 p.m. $19-$109. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (800) 787-5262. www.lamc.org.

“Distracted.” Lisa Loomer’s comedy about an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with ADD and the fast paced, overly wired environment that may have caused it. Directed by Leonard Foglia and starring Rita Wilson and Bronson Pinchot. Center Theatre Group. Through April 29. $20-$55. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 628-2772. www.centertheatregroup.org.

Tue., March 27

“Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.” Tony Award-winning dancer stars in a musical production celebrating her 50-year career. Directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele. Through April 1. $25-$75. Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 655-4900. www.wilshiretheatrebeverlyhills.com.

Fri., March 30

Roy Zimmerman’s “Faulty Intelligence.” Singing political satirist takes aim at Saddam, Dick Cheney, creation science and more. 8 p.m. $25. Steinway Hall at Fields Pianos, 12121 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 471-3979.

“California Style: Art and Fashion From the California Historical Society.” Exhibit includes Victorian-era paintings, ball gowns and a re-created private parlor from the 1880s. Through May 27. $3-$9. Autry National Center, Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles. (323) 667-2000. www.autrynationalcenter.org.

APRIL

Thu., April 5

“The Art of Vintage Israeli Travel Posters.” Commemorating Israeli Independence Day, the exhibit displays posters produced by Israeli government tourism agencies as well as national and private transportation companies during the 1950s and 1960s. Through July 8. Free. Skirball Cultural Center, Ruby and Hurd Galleries, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

Fri., April 6

John Legend Concert. Special guest Corinne Bailey Rae. 8:15 p.m. $30-$75. Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. (818) 622-4440.

Sat., April 7

“Sleeping Beauty Wakes.” Musical adaptation incorporating deaf and hearing actors signing and singing to the book by Rachel Sheinkin. Also features GrooveLily .Center Theatre Group/Deaf West Theatre. Through May 13. $20-$40. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (213) 628-2772. www.centertheatregroup.org.

Wed., April 11

“The Elixir of Love.” Gaetano Donizetti’s light-hearted romantic opera is set in a West Texas diner in the 1950s. Opera Pacific. Through April 22. $27-$200. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (800) 346-7372. www.operapacific.org.

Thu., April 12

“KCLU Presents Terry Gross.” The host of National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” will speak about her experiences interviewing renowned writers, actors, musicians and political figures. Book signing will follow discussion. California Lutheran University. 8 p.m. $15-$50. Fred Kavli Theatre, Countrywide Performing Arts Center, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (805) 449-2787.

Malibu International Film Festival. Competition festival premiering films from around the world. Opening night party at The Penthouse and awards night at Geoffrey’s Malibu. Through April 16. $10-$100. Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 452-6688. www.malibufilmfestival.com.

Jane Austen Book Club. Series of six book club luncheons discussing Jane Austen novels with UCLA Professor of English Charles Lynn Batten. Novels included. Literary Affairs. 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 10, June 14, July 12, Sept. 27, Oct. 25. $375. Beverly Hills Country Club, 3084 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 553-4265. www.literaryaffairs.net.

Fri., April 13

“The Diary of Anne Frank.” Selections from the book performed as an opera and staged in specially prepared areas of parking garages. Featuring Laura Hillman, Schindler’s List survivor. Composed by Grigori Frid. Long Beach Opera. Through April 19. $15-$70. Lincoln Park parking garage, Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, Long Beach; Sinai Temple parking garage, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (562) 432-5934. www.longbeachopera.org.

Sat., April 14

“Preschool Poetry Jam.” David Prather hosts interactive children’s program with jump rope jingles, Shel Silverstein’s poetry, tumbling boxes, scooters and more. Part of Pillow Theatre Series for 3-6 year olds. Music Center. 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Free. BP Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3379. www.musiccenter.org.

Tue., April 17

7 Days in The Arts


Saturday, January 21

Laugh it up at Hillel at Pierce and Valley colleges’ annual Comedy Nite this evening. Nationally known stand-up comedians keep the people happy and entertained, with the help of silent auction and raffle. Actor Tom Bosley, a.k.a. “Happy Days'” beloved Mr. C., will be honored as a positive Jewish role model, thanks to both his professional achievements and his commitment to the community. The event helps support Hillel programming.

7 p.m. (auction), 8 p.m. (show). $30-$35. Pierce College Main Theater, Performing Arts Building, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills. (818) 887-5901.

Sunday, January 22

Babs fans be warned. No icon — not Streisand, not Patinkin — will be spared at this evening’s musical parody show, “Forbidden Broadway.” The performance troupe is well-known for lovingly mocking productions of the Great White Way, and tonight will be no different, save for the Jewish twist they’ve added just for their University of Judaism audience.

7:30 p.m. $40. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. R.S.V.P., (310) 440-1246.

Monday, January 23

It is our duty to inform you of the latest Albert Brooks film, “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” Brooks plays himself in the semi-autobiographical story about a comedian chosen for a special government assignment to travel to India and Pakistan to learn what makes Muslims laugh. However, it must also be said that if you are looking for comedy, we’re not sure that this film is where you’ll find it.

Opens Jan. 20. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Tuesday, January 24

Local author makes good. Writer M. L. Malcolm signs her debut novel, “Silent Lies,” this evening at Barnes and Noble, Encino. Meet her, and pick up her story about a poor Jewish Hungarian boy with a knack for languages whose adventures take him from post-World War I Hungary to Shanghai.

7:30 p.m. Free. 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino.

Wednesday, January 25

Collectors and wannabes hobnob with high art society at tonight’s opening night gala for the Los Angeles Art Show. Pay the big money to take it in tonight, or significantly less to wait till tomorrow (through Sunday). Featured artists include plenty of big hitters like Ansel Adams and Roy Lichtenstein, and the show also serves as centerpiece to Art Week Plus, a grouping of art shows and events around Los Angeles from Jan. 19-29.

$150 (gala), $9-$18 (general admission). Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>


Thursday, January 26

Thursday becomes eclectic. Tonight at UCLA’s Royce Hall, “UCLA Live” presents Israeli folk/rock/world beat songstress Chava Alberstein in concert with Parisian modern gypsy-klezmer octet Les Yeux Noirs. And the beat goes on….

8 p.m. $22–$38. UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Friday, January 27

A “Black and Yiddish Film Festival” comes to the Skirball this week, the first program of its kind to be developed. Focusing on a shared moment in history, the 1930s-1950s, in which black and Yiddish Americans both experienced a creative renaissance in film, the fest will screen three Yiddish and five black movies of the era. Playing tonight is a double feature of “Lang Ist Der Veg (Long Is the Road)” and “Song of Freedom.”

$5-$8. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (866) 468-3399.

Bialystock and Bloom Tell the Truth


When the musical stage version of “The Producers” played in London in 2004, British reporter Toby Young was assigned by Vanity Fair magazine to interview Nathan Lane, the star of the show.

Young opened the interview by asking Lane whether he is Jewish. After a long pause, Lane snapped, “Yes, yes, what of it?” Encouraged by the answer, the reporter’s next question was, “Are you gay?”

Lane responded wordlessly by getting up and walking out.

When Young returned to his office, he was confronted by his irascible editor, Graydon Carter, who had already gotten an earful on the incident.

“What were you thinking?” Carter stormed. “You can’t ask celebrities whether they’re Jewish or gay. In the future, just assume they’re all Jewish and all gay, OK?”

To get to the bottom of this important Jewish story, this reporter flew from Los Angeles to New York last week to see if we could do any better than the hapless British journalist.

The press junket was underwritten by Universal Pictures, which flew in some 35 reporters to meet with the stars and director of the musical movie version of “The Producers,” a monster hit on Broadway and elsewhere, which will be released today.

For those who have been hiding in a cave on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for the past few decades, here’s a quick synopsis.

Formerly high-riding New York producer Max Bialystock is on the ropes after a series of flops. When meek accountant Leo Bloom comes into his office to inspect the books, Bloom makes a discovery: If a producer raises a bundle of money to put into a show, but it closes immediately, he can reap a windfall.

So Max, with Leo’s help, raises $2 million from a phalanx of little old, but amorous, ladies, finds the world’s worst play, worst director and worst actors to guarantee instant disaster.

They hit paydirt with the script “Springtime for Hitler” by a demented Nazi and Wehrmacht veteran. By adding terrible direction and cast, the production is so awful that critics and audiences assume it must be a devilishly clever satire, and the play becomes a hit.

The two distraught producers end up in Sing Sing, where they recruit inmates and oversell shares for their in-house show “Prisoners of Love.”

Back to the press junket. We had been warned that Mel Brooks, who has guided and created every aspect of “Producers” in its various incarnations as nonmusical film, musical play and musical movie, wouldn’t be on hand.

Not expected was the crushing announcement that Uma Thurman, who plays the blonde Swedish bombshell in the film, wouldn’t show up. But in any case, she isn’t Jewish.

Right on schedule, though, was Lane, followed by Matthew Broderick, who portrays Leo Bloom. Each was allotted 25 minutes to field questions from a gaggle of three-dozen reporters, so there wasn’t much time for probing analysis and follow-ups.

Here’s how my dialogue with Lane went.

The Jewish Journal: “Even though you were born into an Irish Catholic blue-collar family, just about everyone assumes that you’re Jewish and that you changed your name from Rabinowitz. How did that impression catch hold and how do you feel about it?”

Nathan Lane: “Well, I did change my name. I was born Joseph Lane, but when I applied to the actors union, they said they already had a Joe Lane on the books, and I’d have to change my last or first name.

I had played the character of Nathan Detroit, whom I liked very much, in “Guys and Dolls,” so I took the name Nathan.

I’m really an honorary Jew, you know, all the best people are. I really do feel Jewish, even though I’m a Catholic. The way the church has been behaving, I’m happy to be Jewish. You know, I’ve played so many Jewish characters, it’s been a great part of my life.”

Next it was Broderick’s turn.

The Jewish Journal: “In playing Leo Bloom, and other Jewish characters in Neil Simon plays, did you draw on your own background?”

Matthew Broderick: “I suppose so. I mean, yeah. My mom was Jewish, so some would call me Jewish. My background is very much that style of writing, Neil Simon and Mel Brooks, and ‘Your Show of Shows’ guys are what I grew up loving. So I probably drew on my New York background and my Jewish background for that, sure.”

So there you have it.

But what about the movie itself? Well, “The Producers” have become part of our folk culture and watching it is a bit like listening to Beethoven’s Fifth or Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” You revel in the familiarity and listen for the nuances and emphasis, rather than the main themes.

Then there is the memory of the very first “Producers,” the 1967 nonmusical film, with the unforgettable Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in the title roles. Broderick himself observed that he could unspool the entire movie in his head at any time.

That said, the new “Producers” is a great piece of showmanship, harking back to the days of Busby Berkeley and the grand old MGM musicals. Hundreds of high-kicking chorus girls (and a klutzy one for comic relief), water fountains galore, Broadway lit up with blinking billboards, the whole works.

Lane and Broderick have practically patented their roles; Uma Thurman, in her first singing and dancing role, is Ulla, God’s gift to mankind; Will Ferrell is a hilarious addition as the Nazi “playwright,” Franz Liebkind, and Gary Beach as director Roger De Bris and Roger Bart as his assistant, Carmen Ghia, are over-the-top gays.

Among the 18 musical numbers, one showstopper is “I Wanna Be a Producer,” in which director Susan Stroman displays her roots as a choreographer. In a different vein is the plaintive “Betrayed,” in which Bialystock behind bars acts out a miniversion of the show.

For the final scene, the film returns to Broadway, lit up with the titles of future Bialystock & Bloom hits, such as “She Shtupps to Conquer,” “Katz,” “South Passaic,” “A Streetcar Named Murray” and “High Button Jews.”

 

Enter Three Little Maidelehs


For strictly observant women, being Orthodox can often mean putting a kibosh on artistic aspirations. Halachic prohibitions against singing and dancing in front of men means that many women who enjoy those art forms find they have little opportunity to perform.

Enter Margy Horowitz, a Los Angeles-based piano teacher from Chicago who’d heard about all-women’s productions in her hometown from a friend. Intrigued, she started envisioning an all-women’s production for Los Angeles with women not only just in the cast, but also in the audience.

“There are a lot of opportunities for religious high school girls to perform [in school-sponsored, women’s-only musicals], but for older women who have graduated from high school and want to perform, they have no outlets,” Horowitz said. “And plenty of them have so much talent.”

With support from Rabbi Steven Weil at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, Horowitz teamed up with Linda Freedman, a Beth Jacob congregant who sings in the choir at nearby Congregation Magen David. The two decided to put on a production of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical “The Mikado,” with proceeds going to charity.

“The Mikado” is a raucous tale of the prodigal son of a Japanese emperor who runs away from his father’s court to escape marriage, pretends he is a poor musician and falls in love with a young geisha.

“We chose the play because it is in the public domain,” Horowitz said. “It has also got great music and comedy.”

She said she wanted a musical that was not as obscure as many of the productions done in girls’ high schools: “I didn’t think it needed to have a Jewish theme, even though it was for the Jewish community.”

After posting audition flyers throughout Los Angeles and the Valley, the two found their cast of 21. All the women in the play are observant to some degree, and they represent most of the Jewish neighborhoods in greater Los Angeles, including Fairfax, Pico, North Hollywood, Marina del Rey and even Yorba Linda.

“We were so happy to give these women the opportunity to perform,” Horowitz said. “Even if we are not successful, I would still feel that we did something great.”

The all-women’s production of “The Mikado” will be performed at Beverly Hills High School’s Salter Theater, 241 Moreno Drive, on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets, call (310) 726-9333.

 

7 Days in The Arts


Saturday, November 5

Santa Monica Playhouse Youth Performers perform some tikkun olam and a musical show all at once. This weekend, the 10- to-14-year-olds present “Drempels, aka: The Short but Happy Life of the Drempel Hieronymus Aloisius Plonk.” The musical comedy imagines a make-believe mischievous species called Drempels that live underground. Proceeds from today’s and tomorrow’s shows will benefit The Jenesse Center Hurricane Relief Fund in South Los Angeles, which is currently housing more than 300 Katrina evacuees.

7:30 p.m. (Sat.), 5 p.m. (Sun.). $20 (donation). The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. R.S.V.P., (310) 394-9779, ext. 2.

Sunday, November 6

In the Israeli film, “Joy,” the title character and her family are anything but. However, with the help of her favorite reality TV show, Joy Levine hopes she might be able to change her family’s lot by reconciling her parents with the estranged friends who pulled away from them after a mysterious event some 22 years earlier. The film screens on Nov. 5 and 6, as part of AFI Fest.

6:15 p.m. (Nov. 5), 4 p.m. (Nov. 6). ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd. R.S.V.P., (866) 234-3378. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Monday, November 7

Veteran newsman Mike Wallace talks with ABC News’ Judy Muller this evening at Temple Emanuel. Having worked on “60 Minutes” since its 1968 premiere, Wallace’s list of interviewees includes American presidents, world leaders and classic entertainers. He reveals some of the stories behind the interviews in his new memoir, “Between You and Me,” and with any luck, tonight at Emanuel.

7:30 p.m. 300 N. Clark Drive, Beverly Hills. R.S.V.P., (310) 335-0917. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Tuesday, November 8

Simms Taback offers up the differences between a schlemiel and shlimazel, and other vital Yiddish lessons in his book, “Kibitzers and Fools: Tales My Zayda Told Me.” He’s at Children’s Book World this afternoon for storytelling and a booksigning.

Ages 6 and up. 1:30-3 p.m. 10580 1/2 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 559-2665.

Wednesday, November 9

Bi now, gay later? That’s the question in Dan Rothenberg’s new one-man show, “Regretrosexual.” The neurotic Jewish guy is ready to propose to his girlfriend, if only he can get up the guts to be honest with her about his gay-curious sexual past.

8 p.m. (Tues.-Thurs.), through Nov. 17. $18. The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (323) 969-4790. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Thursday, November 10

Every holiday finds us overeating or fasting, but professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett takes the analysis a few steps further today. The USC Casden Institute presents her lecture on “Recipes for Community: A History of the Jewish Kitchen,” which explores the Jewish relationship with food from the 19th century until today.

5:30 p.m. Free. USC campus. R.S.V.P., (213) 740-3405. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Friday, November 11

Being a celeb super couple can be tough. Consider how it feels to be Bennifer in Adam Goldberg’s new film, “I Love Your Work.” At turns somber and self-mocking, the film addresses the culture of celebrity through the story of a movie star who goes crazy trying to cope with his fame after marrying an equally famous starlet.

Regent Showcase Theater, 614 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 934-2944.

Shticking It to the Classics


My 5-year-old thinks “My Yiddishe Mama,” the soulful ballad immortalized by Sophie Tucker in 1928, is a rock anthem. The version he learned didn’t come from a dusty old record, but from a CD released in 2004 by the group, Yiddishe Cup, called “Meshugeneh Mambo.”

This is not your grandmother’s Jewish music. Like other recent Jewish parody CDs, “Meshugeneh Mambo” carries on the tradition of Jewish humor popularized by such forbearers as Mickey Katz and Allan Sherman. Although the lounge acts of the Catskills have all but vanished, a few intrepid souls are bringing a modern brand of Borscht Belt humor to a whole new generation.

Yiddishe Cup’s album combines soulful klezmer ballads, doo-wop and, of course, Latin flair. The title track sets the tone, promising “No frailech [joyful] hora can compare/ to shaking your Yiddishe dierriere/ to the lovely Mesugheneh Mambo.”

The group’s rendition of “My Yiddishe Mama” throws in homage to James Bond’s “Goldfinger” and the theme song to “The Patty Duke Show.” Listen closely and you will hear spoofs of “Star Trek,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Outer Limits” scattered about in the traditional melodies and remakes of comedy routines created in the 1950s.

Newer artists like Yiddishe Cup have learned from the old comedic masters that classic Jewish humor relies on cleverness rather than anger. The best comics “tell a story that is visual and makes you think,” said Simon Rutberg of Hatikvah International on Fairfax Avenue. “Using the word ‘shmuck’ doesn’t make it Jewish.”

Instead, skilled artists allow listeners to recognize themselves and the universal truths behind the tales and tunes.

One artist who stresses ruach (spirit) over raunch is Michael Lange. The director, whose credits include “Life Goes On” and “The X-Files,” has released several titles under his Silly Music label. In November, Lange will release “A Kosher Christmas,” a collection of popular yuletide melodies coupled with decidedly Jewish-themed lyrics. It’s a strange experience indeed to hear the traditional orchestrations — think bells, trumpets and choral harmonies — as singers croon about litigation, food, guilt and family (categories that Lange refers to as “the four cornerstones of the Jewish experience.”)

In “Such a Loyal Son Am I,” a take-off on “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” a mother and son alternate kvetching about one another: (Him:) Not so easy with this mother/Still a loyal son am I. (Her:) Not a doctor like his brother/Such a shanda [shame] I should cry. “Greensleeves” is re-imagined as “Greenstein,” an ode to the singer’s childhood crush, Tiffany Greenstein.

And, of course, food plays a significant role, as in “Harvey Weisenberg” (to the tune of “Good King Wenceslas”): “[which] Soup would he pick, wondered he:/Lentil, borscht or chicken/As he ate he thought with glee:/This is finger lickin’….

Lange previously created two Broadway musical parodies. “Goys and Dolls,” released in 2002, uses the original melodies of “Guys and Dolls” to tell the story of a young man who begins dating a non-Jewish woman, while “Say Oy Vey” re-imagines “Cabaret” as the story of two seniors who find romance at synagogue bridge night.

Musicals are also the targets of spoofs created by the group Shlock Rock, whose founder, Lenny Solomon, hails from a long line of cantors. Their 2003 release, “Almost on Broadway,” transforms “Maria” from “West Side Story” to “Tekia”: “Tekia! I’ve just heard the sound called Tekia!”

Shlock Rock boasts 23 albums to its credit, ranging from original compositions to children’s music to parody. The group’s nine other parody CD’s display an impressive range of musical styles, Judaic knowledge and humor. In one, for example, Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” becomes “49 Days to Count the Omer,” while in another, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin morphs into “Learning to Do the Hora.” And you’ve got to wonder what kind of mind would think of transforming the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” into “Rabbi Akiva”: “Rabbi Akiva had straw for a bed/Love thy neighbor like thyself is what he said.”

While they’re amusing to listen to, be forewarned: The lyrics stick with you. So when the time comes for my son to join his kindergarten classmates for the annual holiday assembly in December, he’ll be easy to pick out. He’ll be the one singing “Goys Rule the World.”

 

7 Days in The Arts


Saturday, August 6

While we are of the opinion that adult twins who dress alike are about as cheesy or creepy as you can get, we can’t speak for the Rosenblum Twins’ comedic skills. The identically attractive Jewish girls perform their bit, “The Separation Anxiety Tour,” as special guests in tonight’s Masquers Cabaret lineup.

9:30 p.m. $15 (cover, plus two-drink minimum). 8334 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (323) 653-4848.

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Sunday, August 7

Down-home blues and pretty bluegrass are just some of the sounds you’ll hear today at the Skirball’s “American Roots Musical Festival.” Acclaimed blues and gospel performers The Holmes Brothers and zyedeco artist Geno Delafose headline the daylong extravaganza that highlights our musical past.

2-7 p.m. $5-$15 (general), free (children under 12). 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (866) 468-3399.

Monday, August 8

The dirt behind the manicured lawns of fictional suburban town, Agrestic, Calif., is “Weeds,” a new Showtime comedy series. Created and executive produced by Jenji Kohan (Emmy Award-winner and sister of “Will and Grace” exec producer/creator David Kohan), the show stars Mary-Louise Parker as a different kind of desperate housewife. The widowed mother of two turns to selling pot to pay the bills after her husband’s sudden death. Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon also star. The show premieres this week.

10 p.m. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Tuesday, August 9

Cuz you can’t get enough industry talk in this city, head downtown tonight to partake in yet another conversation on the state of Hollywood through Zócalo at California Plaza. Robert J. Dowling, 15-year Hollywood Reporter editor-in-chief, and L.A. Times columnist Joel Stein discuss both the culture and the business of this business — and, most importantly, TomKat.

7 p.m. Free. 351 S. Olive St., Los Angeles. (213) 403-0416.

Wednesday, August 10

For one heck of a hora film, see Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in “Wedding Crashers,” about two friends who crash weddings to hook up with women. The opening montage includes the two hamming it up at various ethnic weddings, including a Jewish one.

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Thursday, August 11

The rich diversity of L.A.’s religious community is on display in photographer Robert Berger’s latest book, “Sacred Spaces: Historical Houses of Worship in the City of Angels.” The book’s title and contents also make up the Skirball Cultural Center’s new exhibition of Images representing L.A.’s religious sanctuaries of past and present. It opens today.

Runs through Nov. 27. Free. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

Friday, August 12

For escapist humor don’t look to Theatre 40’s latest production. Jules Feiffer’s biting black comedy, “Little Murders,” will offer you humor all right, but there will be no escape. Set in an urban, violent Manhattan, the play centers on one family coping with the usual American family dysfunction, complete with overbearing mother, passive father and sexually confused son. It plays through Sept. 3.

8 p.m. (Thurs.-Sat.), 2 p.m. (Sat., Aug. 13, 20, 27 and Sept. 3; Sun., Aug. 7). $18-$20. Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills High Campus. R.S.V.P., (310) 364-0535.

7 Days in the Arts


Saturday, March 19

Get straight talk this afternoon, followed by dance, comedy and more talk in this weekend’s “Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival: Roots and Identity.” The fest kicked off on Thursday, but continues through tomorrow, with solo performances of every variety by women from every walk of life.

$17-$20. Lee Strasberg Creative Center, Marilyn Monroe Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (818) 760-0408. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Sunday, March 20

Go ahead. This is a safe space. Admit it. You are one of those audience members who sings along during musical numbers. Out there in the world, or on any other day in Seven Days even, you would be chastised for such unabashedly rude behavior. But not today. Today you find your niche. Your groove, if you will. Today you find the University of Judaism’s “Fiddler on the Roof” Sing-Along, where you, and others like you, can freely and loudly biddy-bum along with the music of the Oscar-winning movie musical.

$25. 7 p.m. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1547.

Monday, March 21

Four guys and one girl venture off to New York together after graduation to see if they can make it big in the Big Apple. But count on romance and insecurities to get in the way of these artists’ plans to get ahead and get the girl. The love pentagon story is called “Way Off Broadway,” and opens this week at the Laemmle Fairfax.

7907 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.(323) 655-4010.

Tuesday, March 22

The acclaimed documentary “The Lost Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe” follows the stories of the demises of these sanctuaries. More than 1,000 existed before the Holocaust and the Russian Revolution. Theodore Bikel narrates the film by Albert Barry, who will attend today’s screening sponsored by the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language. It screens at 6:30 p.m. in Yiddish and 8 p.m. in English, with discussions with Barry following both screenings.

6:30-9:30 p.m. $5-$8. UCLA Hillel, 574 Hilgard, Los Angeles. (310) 745-1190.

Wednesday, March 23

Todd Solondz is an unusual guy. How else does one describe the mind responsible for movies like “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “Happiness” and the soon-to-be-released “Palindromes”? For those who care to try a little harder, gaining insight may be possible this evening and tomorrow. He’ll be at the American Cinematheque discussing the aforementioned films, with the first two screening tonight, and a sneak preview of “Palindromes” scheduled for tomorrow.

$6-$9. 7:30 p.m. 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 466-3456.

Thursday, March 24

Drunken excess reigns tonight, as all the young Jews do Purim right at the Skirball. Roots and area Hillels, along with the Persian American Jewish Organization, Siamak and Bruins for Israel sponsor “Queen Esther’s Ball.” College students and young professionals don the masks and head out for a memorable night they won’t remember in the morning.

9 p.m. $15. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. Roots613@aol.com.

Friday, March 25

Harry Shearer, of “Le Show,” “This Is Spinal Tap” and “The Simpsons” fame introduces the Ernst Lubitsch/Jack Benny classic film “To Be or Not To Be” in his own voice tonight. It’s part of AFI and the Skirball’s series “Cinema’s Legacy: How Great Filmmakers Inspire Great Filmmakers,” and a discussion on the film led by Shearer follows.

$6-$10. 7:30 p.m. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (866) 468-3399.

7 Days in the Arts


SATURDAY

Chinese restaurants and movie theaters notwithstanding, lonely Jews on Christmas have a new place at which to convene. The Skirball Cultural Center is open and mostly free to the public today. See the “Time/Space, Gravity and Light,” “Celestial Nights,” and “Visions and Values…” exhibitions, watch a screening of “Back to the Future” at and take part in a drop-in art workshops free of charge. The “Einstein” exhibit is not free.

Noon-5 p.m. Movie screening at 1:30 p.m. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

SUNDAY

It’s a family kind of weekend. Spend today at the Getty’s “Close to Home: An American Album” exhibit, which celebrates the family photograph. Some 200 black-and-white and color images taken from 1930 through the mid-1960s, by amateur photographers, as well as by professionals like Thomas Eakins and Alfred Steiglitz, are included in the show. From birthday parties to family vacations to pictures of people with their prized possessions, these pictures strike a familiar chord as we consider our own family portraits.

MONDAY

Another klezmer CD? Why not, especially when it’s as good as “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”? The instrumental CD by Klezmer Juice offers new takes on traditional melodies like “Zemer Atik” and “Donna Donna.” The group also recently caught the attention of New Line Cinema, which cast them as on-camera performers in the upcoming film “The Wedding Crashers,” starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Christopher Walken. Their version of “Hava Nagila” will be featured on the soundtrack.

TUESDAY

Film director Pierre Sauvage comes to the New JCC at Milken this evening for a discussion following the screening of his 1989 film, “Weapons of the Spirit.” The last in the JCC’s “Between Worlds” series featuring Holocaust-related films, this movie tells the story of an entire French village of Righteous Gentiles who saved the lives of some 5,000 Jews.

7-9 p.m. Free. 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3300.

WEDNESDAY

Put idle hands to work today with producer Ellen R. Margulies’ new DVD, “The Art of Knitting.” According to the producers, this is the first DVD of its kind, despite the huge knitting trend that has swept the country. You’ll learn everything from knitting and purling to color theory and how to start your own knitting circle in this first of four volumes.

$19.95. www.theartofknitting.com

THURSDAY

Fahey/Klein Gallery offers the public the rare opportunity to see privately owned works by renowned artists like Diane Arbus, David Hockney, Man Ray and Robert Mapplethorpe in its latest exhibition, aptly titled, “Photographs From Private Collections.” Catch them before they retreat behind closed doors again on Jan. 29.

148 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 934-2250.

FRIDAY

Say “Sholom” to 2004 with the Santa Monica Playhouse’s one-night, two-show reprise of “Author! Author! An Evening With Sholom Aleichem.” Backstage West has hailed the musical comedy, based on the Yiddish author’s letters and stories. Included in the price of admission to both shows this evening are buffet supper, champagne, favors, hats, New Year’s surprises and an after-party with the cast.

$35 (6 p.m.), $45 (9:30 p.m.). 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. R.S.V.P., (310) 394-9779, ext. 1.

Laughter From Experience


In Hollye Leven’s new rock ‘n’ roll musical, "Funny Business," comedians vie for attention at a seedy nightclub. They include Will, an intellectual African American, whose producers want him to be just "a little more black"; Art (Will Durst), whose career is so dead, if it were "a toe, there’d be a tag on it"; and Hannah (Iris Bahr), whose mom is an Israeli New York Jew. "You piss her off, she’ll not only make you feel guilty, she’ll give you the finger and bulldoze your house down," Hannah says.

The innovative production stars real comics, such as the Israeli-born Bahr, who perform parts of their act in the show. It’s the latest riff on comedians turning their work into theater (think Julie Sweeney’s "And God Said Ha!").

Leven, who first became fascinated by comics while working nightclubs as a musician, was adamant about using real comedians in the show.

"Stand-up is a very specific art form, and the people who can do it are a special breed," said the 49-year-old Jewish playwright ("Polo Lounge"). "They’re like our oral historians, commenting on what’s happening at a particular time in society."

The approximately 80 comics she interviewed as research were also like "an adult class of emotionally disturbed children"; during taped sessions, they’d insist she avoid the dark-side-of-the-clown cliché, then described mind-numbingly miserable childhoods. The author identified because she, too, had a difficult childhood, growing up with a mother incapacitated by multiple sclerosis.

"I loved the way they used comedy as a survival tool," she said.

But working with comics has its challenges, as Leven discovered during workshop productions since 1991.

"They’re not known for being team players," she said. "They all think they can do it funnier, but their suggestions usually make them the lead."

Director Sue Wolf, who’s worked on stand-up shows for HBO, handles such situations with humor: "I’ll say, ‘If I were directing this play …" she said. She uses her understanding of how each comic gets laughs to help them with character work.

It also helps that the show includes hilarious real-life stories from Leven’s interviews; one example is the scene in which a racist producer asks Art if his surname is Jewish.

"That’s just my stage name," he retorts. "I changed it from Hitler."

The show opens May 9 at the Coronet Theatre: (310) 657-7377.