Gotta Have Art!

As the weather gets cooler, the theater scene is heating up.

This fall, stages across Pasadena and Glendale are showcasing first-class shows with stories that will make audiences laugh, cry and reflect on their own lives through media like dance, performance theater, music and inspirational lectures.

So, grab a warm drink, wrap up in your coziest sweaters and scarves, and prepare yourself for the best entertainment the area has to offer this fall.

Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse has been a hub for creativity in the performing arts world for more than 100 years, and has no plans to slow down. The next century for the theater will bring about many changes. Perhaps the most notable is Pasadena Playhouse’s vision of its purpose, as it transitions from a place of entertainment to a destination of enlightenment through theater. Shows are held at the theater, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena.

Info: 626-356-7529 or pasadenaplayhouse.org

The fall series includes: “Little Shop of Horrors,” now to October 20; “A Kid Like Jake,” now through to November 3; and “The Great Leap” from November 6 to December 1.

A Noise Within

A Noise Within’s 2019-20 season features three classic plays that fall under the theme, “They Played with Fire.” They demonstrate the trials, tribulations and, ultimately, the power of change through characters who are willing to give their lives to make a difference in the world around them.

Guests will enjoy each robust show in a massive theater erected in 2011 that boasts 324 seats.

A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena.

Info: 626-356-3100 or anoisewithin.org

The fall lineup for 2019-20 includes: “Gem of the Ocean” through November 16; ‘Buried Child’ from October 13 to November 23; and “A Christmas Carol” from December 4 to December 23.

Boston Court Pasadena

Boston Court Pasadena impeccably blends the drama of theater, movement of music, and an exhibition’s ability to spark one’s curiosity in a single location. Over the next few months, there are seemingly endless opportunities to partake in varied experiences.

Fall will bring about the show “How the Light Gets In,” which highlights the lives of four strangers from drastically different backgrounds, who connect through their loneliness and change each other’s lives entirely when one of them falls apart.

In the auditorium’s lobby, the show will be paired with an art exhibition that plays on the performance’s showcase of vegetation typically seen in Japanese gardens. Both shows are running through October 27. 

The theater also offers music performances of varying types including the conductor-less Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra that was scheduled to perform September 21 and the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet set to hit the stage October 17.

Info: 626-683-6891 or bostoncourtpasadena.org

Remaining performances this season include:

• Piano Spheres: Mark Robson, October 4

• Brightwork NewMusic, October 5

• The Viano String Quartet, October 6

• Synchromy, October 12

• Rod Gilfry in Concert, October 18

• Bridge to Everywhere, October 19

• Alexander Miller: To… Oblivion, October 25

• Josh Nelson: Après Un Rêve, October 26

Parson’s Nose Theater

Parson’s Nose Theater believes the classics have withstood the test of time because of the truth they speak to each generation, but also thinks the truth can sometimes be funny.

This season, the theater is featuring “full-out” comedy shows while prematurely celebrating the upcoming centennial year of women’s suffrage. Unlike a large portion of classic plays, in each of the theater’s productions it’s the woman who saves the day.

“Our American Cousin,” the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated, will be showcased from October 18 to November 11. The show highlights the story of an awkward and honest American, and her adventures to English relatives as she tries to save her fortune. As per the theater’s culture, the show will include a song and dance or two.

From December 14 to December 22, the Parson’s Nose will also feature a rendition of “A Christmas Carol.” The production is what Parson’s calls “theater unplugged.” During the show, the actors sit along the back of the stage, and present themselves only when needed. In this casual setting they hold their scripts, yet are typically familiar enough with content they’re barely looked over. The actors sing their own carols and create the show’s sound effects by hand and with the help of the audience.

All shows are hosted at Parson’s Nose Theater located at 95 N. Marengo Avenue, Suite 110.

Info: 626-403-7667 or parsonsnose.org

The Rose

The Rose is an intimate live music venue that serves dinner and also manages to have room for a massive dancefloor. Though the inside is a large space that accommodates all types of music shows each month, the location is comfortably tucked away at 245 E. Green Street, Pasadena. It serves as a focal point for music lovers of all types in the area, and a great place to test out dance moves judgment free.

Remaining shows this season include:

• L.A. Guns, opening sets by Wikkid Starr and Six Gun Sal, October 4

• Jim Messina, October 6

• Brian Howe, opening set by Ampage, October 10

• Jon B, opening set by H’atina, October 12

• A Night with Janis Joplin, October 17

• Todrick: Haus Party Tour, October 19

• Sir Mix-A-Lot, October 26

• Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, November 2

• Judy Collins, November 10

• Los Lonely Boys, November 16

• Queen Nation, opening by Slow Burning Car, November 22

• The Association, opening set by Nick Marechal, November 23

• Jonny Lang, December 7

• DSB Journey Tribute, December 27

• Led Zeppelin Tribute by Led Zepagain, December 28

Info: 888-625-5006 or wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com

Fremont Centre Theatre

Since Fremont Centre Theatre’s start in 1997, Co-Artistic Directors James and Lissa Reynolds have worked to produce shows that promote diversity in society, as well as attract diverse audiences from far and wide.

The theater, located at 1000 Fremont Avenue, South Pasadena, will be showcasing the musical “Annie Jr.” from October 4 to October 27.

The show will bring generations together as the story of orphan Annie walks the audience through her struggle after being abandoned on the doorsteps of a rundown orphanage where she is mistreated. Annie will set out to find her birth parents, but along the way she will adopt an entirely new family—one better than in her dreams. 

Info: 626-269-3609 or fremontcentretheatre.com

Alex Theatre

The performing arts and entertainment center, Alex Theatre, has been hosting robust events for more than 80 years and has only increased the quality and quantity of events since its doors opened.

Now serving more than 130,000 people per year, the theater located at 216 N Brand Boulevard, Glendale, hosts events including classical, contemporary and world music concerts, film screenings, live theater, stand-up comedy, dance recitals and musicals.

Remaining shows include:

• Live Talks Los Angeles in association with

Glendale Arts presents: An Evening with Bob Iger, October 1

• AEG presents: Yanni, October 3

• Symphonic Concert Management Ltd presents:

Havasi Pure Piano Concert, October 5

• Boundaryless Productions presents:

Where Is Your Groom II?, October 6

• Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange presents: Patti Smith, October 9

• Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre presents:

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre Goes Broadway, October 13

• Center for Inquiry presents: An Evening with

Richard Dawkins and Ann Druyan, October 20

• Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents:

McGegan and Denk, October 26

• Right Angle Entertainment presents: Raffi, October 27

• Alex Film Society presents:

Halloween Classics! “The Old Dark House” (1932) and “The Raven”

(1935) October 27

• Musical Theatre Guild presents: “The Goodbye Girl,” November 10

• Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents:

Pulcinella and Prokofiev, November 16

• Los Angeles Ballet presents:

The Nutcracker, December 7 and December 8

Info: 818-243-2539 or alextheatre.org

Antaeus Theatre Company

The Antaeus Theatre Company has recently announced its two fall shows, which both share the underlying theme of defying the odds as the past comes back to haunt the present.

The story “Eight Nights,” which the theater will be showing from October 31 to December 16, features the journey of a resilient German Jewish refugee and her family set in a single apartment. From October 3 to November 25, the stage will be absorbed by the cast of “The Abuelas,” a story of an Argentinian concert cellist living in Chicago who will have to face the harsh truths of Argentina’s “Dirty War.”

The theater is located at 110 E Broadway, Glendale.

Info: 818-506-5436 or antaeus.org  

Making Self Expression Relatable

For 34 years, the Contemporary Crafts Market has provided creators and art lovers a place to explore where art, history and science come together. Years past have proven to be successful in connecting people to art they love, however, the retirement of the market’s CEO will bring about the end of an era.

“We are retiring, but art is timeless,” says CEO Roy Helms.

“When I launched this show 34 years ago, my goal was to showcase fine craft and wonderful products you cannot find anywhere else. There’s nothing like hand-crafted artistry to enhance home and everyday life.”

The market serves as not only a place to showcase talent and dedication, but as a medium to exchange stories. From November 1 to November 3, the Pasadena Convention Hall will house more than 150 booths filled to the brim with art that has a strong history and a plethora of stories behind it.

One such booth is that of enamelist Marianne Hunter.

Fifty-two years ago, Hunter started enameling atop pennies that she sold to friends and family. She prides herself in only using each design once, even over the last half century, and being inspired by something new for each piece.

Though her originality has persisted throughout the years, Hunter’s ability to keep simple titles for each piece has not.

“When I’m working on a piece, I have to immerse myself into that feeling,” Hunter says. “I have thought about it and what I’m trying to communicate as my vision comes together. Soon enough my one-word titles for each piece grew longer and longer, so I gave into it and started engraving short poems on the back that tell the piece’s story.”

From the colors used to the shape of the jewelry itself, everything about the piece shares a role in relaying Hunter’s narrative.

While the pieces can be worn, her techniques allow the art to look just as wonderful in a translucent case in which all sides can be seen.

“The biggest thing for me is that I do everything free-hand, every emotion comes through the work naturally. It’s raw, it’s authentic, it’s my vision of the story straight from my soul to my hands to the work itself,” Hunter says.

It can take Hunter anywhere from two weeks to a month to perfect a fired glass piece, which can take more than 120 individual firings somewhere between 1,500 and 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit before completion.

Hunter says, however, she doesn’t mind the process, as delicate and tedious as it may be.

Starting her own small enameling business in the summer of 1967, Hunter says she, “hasn’t had the need for a straight job since. I’ve been self-employed my whole life. I haven’t been to Europe or the other things I might’ve done if I got two-week vacations, but doing this everyday challenges me. It drives me, and there’s no other place I’d rather be than doing this.”

Due to the time, concentration and use of materials, Hunter’s pieces start at $5,000. She has started utilizing a layaway program to make her art accessible to anyone who can relate to the stories she tells through her work.

“I want people who relate to my art and these pieces to be able to have it. That’s what it’s for, that’s the reason I do this. If it speaks to you, you need to have it,” Hunter says.

Through an entirely different medium, watercolorist Liz Covington has also used her art to tell a story entirely her own. Though her art she has expressed the balancing act of being a practicing physician and crafter.

Ten years ago, the painter got her start in the art world through calligraphy, where she specialized in italics. Though she took it on for fun, Covington says it was more demanding than she could have ever imagined.

“I wanted to do something fun and easy to kind of take my mind away from my practice and I enjoyed the technique and discipline, but it’s a lot more involved than most people think,” Covington says.

As she began mastering calligraphy she sought out embellishments like watercolor flowers to pair with her writing. And without a moment’s notice she had discovered her true passion- painting.

“I started in watercolor because it was cheap, but I stuck with it because I think, personally, it’s one of the most challenging ways to deliver a scene. It requires so much practice and patience. I loved it immediately,” Covington says.

Today, Covington is able to produce nature scenes, flowers, portraits and abstract works. She says a particular fan favorite is her mixed abstract-portraits pieces.

As Covington takes on the complexities of nature, politics, and urban unrest, through her art she says painting the world as she views it through watercolor helps her see overwhelming aspects of life in their simplicity.

“I’m eclectic so I usually paint what’s on my mind. Sometimes is soft, and gentle, other times it’s a harsh truth that needs to be acknowledged. Either way, I feel it’s important to put it on paper. Once I’ve painted it, I feel like I’ve expressed it and it’s okay to let it go,” Covington says.

Covington has also explored the fashion market, and has recently gone under contract with a clothing company that put’s her art on shirts, dresses, scarves and bags, which she says brings her art to life.

Though her clothing can only be found online at the moment, Covington will be featuring greeting cards, prints, posters, and originals that range from $10 to more than $250 at the craft fair.

“Really, I just hope my paintings have a unique perspective and composition that provokes you. I want my art to draw you in, and make you think on an emotional level,” Covington says.  


Contemporary Crafts Market

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 3
Pasadena Convention Center Exhibit Hall, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena
Limited passes are available at craftsource.net

Telling the Story of ‘Arroyo’

Though Pasadena claims to value honesty, integrity, and accountability, one author challenges the seemingly utopic history of the city through his debut fiction novel “Arroyo.”

Pasadena-born Chip Jacobs has spent the last three years studying the idiosyncrasies of the Colorado Street Bridge. While history books portray the bridge as a beacon of Pasadena’s withstanding financial and industrial success, Jacobs has uncovered gruesome truths about the structure locally dubbed, “Suicide Bridge.”

“Pasadena is a beautiful place, but it’s not perfect. No place is perfect that’s made by man,” Jacobs says, adding, “there’s a lot of coffee table books about Pasadena and about our history, and they’re great, but they don’t seem to capture human suffering, drama, and confusion—all things that build a city.”

Having worked in journalism for seven years, Jacobs found the industry was tailor- made for him because of his “curious” and “annoying” personality that made getting to the bottom of stories exhilarating.

There was one story, however, that changed Jacobs’ trajectory in the field of writing.

Jacobs published an article in Pasadena Weekly about a very obscure accident that befell the Colorado Street Bridge in the midst of construction. The catastrophe killed several construction workers, but the brilliance of the bridge shadowed over the lives sacrificed to erect it.

“It really bothered me that these men who died in this dramatic collapse had been forgotten, kind of brushed aside by history; swept over by the glory of this bridge and what it meant for the history of the city,” Jacobs says.

Not long after the story was published, Jacobs began receiving very passionate responses from the community. Some of the letters and emails believed the piece to be distasteful, but others highlighted their appreciation for the truth of what happened to the men killed while building the bridge.

“When you live in Pasadena you’re always connected with that bridge because you drive over it, you know somebody that has gone for a walk or a jog on it and has seen a dead body at the bottom. You’re inundated with lithograph paintings of the bridge in art galleries and in organizational literature. You’re absolutely dazzled by the aesthetics of it,” Jacobs says, adding, “you’re either someone who views it as a symbol of how far the city has come, or how far we have to go.”

Jacobs’ resume includes two nonfiction novels published. “Strange as It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler,” a story about a maternal uncle whom he couldn’t stand, but turned out the be the most astonishing man he’d ever met; and “Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles,” which offers a social—not technical—history of the smog crisis.

Jacobs says he had “all the ingredients to write a fiction novel”—a book-publishing history, a natural curiosity for the world, the ability to dig for the truth and a passion for writing.

“I had so many people tell me ‘with your smart-ass personality and imagination, you really should be going into fiction.’ So I did,” Jacobs says.

“Being a journalist, you’re capturing history on the fly, but I wanted to capture the drama on a deeper spectrum and of course do it with my own sort of flare,” Jacobs says.

And so, “Arroyo,” the novel, was born.

The hilariously grim story embarks readers on a journey through the lens of a young inventor and his dog, inspired by his beloved dog Auggie, in both 1913 and 1993 Pasadena.

Though the inventor was once the “biggest homer, all-American Pasadena boy possible,” in his second life he will discover his purpose as a whistleblower reincarnated to bring truth to the dark past of the bridge as it celebrates its 80 years.

As the inventor discovers the purpose of his second life with the help of his dog, the story walks the audience through the contrasting ideologies of history and myth, progress and vanity, even the contrasting approaches to various obstacles by dog and man.

“Teddy Roosevelt once famously said, not all movement is necessarily progress,’ and I think that does apply to this bridge at this point in our city’s history,” Jacobs says.

Although there are elements to the story that rings true of fiction, like the dialogue, Jacobs says it was extremely important to him that he reflects the information on the bridge accurately when writing the book.

He also insisted on keeping true to the area’s personalities, including hints of a local business owner’s voice, and a pharmacist who recorded the bridge’s history from his perspective as it was under construction. He says both accurately portray the shared feelings of hesitation and excitement for the area’s future.

The book seamlessly alludes to both an epoch of doll-style dresses and ice cream parlor and another era filled with technology and “Seinfeld;” however, while writing the book, Jacobs says switching between two worlds wasn’t effortless.

“Going from a journalist to being a nonfiction author to a novelist wasn’t always easy. I ripped up and threw away thousands of pages. I burned through printer ink like crazy. I got a hand injury from backspacing so much. I was so paranoid about digging in and touching down on that blank page—problems I never had when I was writing nonfiction. I mean it was grabbing me around the throat,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs’ father also died while writing the book, which sent him “sideways.” Beyond the shock of losing a loved one, the conflicted author was writing about a 1913 falsely utopic Pasadena world while in modern-day Pasadena as his world went dark and his family mourned.

“I was split down the middle of these worlds, but that helped me relate to this character even more than I already had because he’s doing the same thing. He’s trying to figure out who he is in this world of confusion and chaos,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs hopes “Arroyo” brings as much clarity and reflection on life and history while looking toward the future to readers as writing the novel did to him.

Jacobs says he believes past decisions affect Pasadena today and hopes readers can learn lessons that carry into their choices.

“Be careful about your secrets and machinations because they might just ricochet back at you in unintended ways,” Jacobs says.