Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, November 26, 2016

MVNews this week:  Page B:2



Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 26, 2016 

On the Marquee: 

Notes from the Sierra MadrePlayhouse

Jeff’s Book Pics By Jeff Brown

Common Ground: Encounters with 
Nature at the Edges of Life by Rob 

All too often, we think of nature as 
something distinct from ourselves, 
something to go and see, a place that’s 
separate from the ordinary modern world 
in which we live and work. But if we take 
the time to look, we soon find that’s not 
how nature works. Even in our parceled-
out, paved-over urban environs, nature is 
all around us; it is in us. It is us.That’s what 
Rob Cowen discovered after moving to a 
new home in northern England. After ten 
years in London he was suddenly adrift, 
searching for a sense of connection. He 
found himself drawn to a square-mile 
patch of waste ground at the edge of town. 
Scrappy, weed-filled, this heart-shaped 
tangle of land was the very definition of 
overlooked—a thoroughly in-between 
place that capitalism no longer had any 
use for, leaving nature to take its course. 
Wandering its meadows, woods, hedges, 
and fields, Cowen found it was also a 
magical, mysterious place, haunted and 
haunting, abandoned but wildly alive—
and he fell in fascinated love.Common 
Ground is a true account of that place and 
Cowen’s transformative journey through 
its layers and lives, but it’s much more 
too. As the land’s stories intertwine with 
events in his own life—and he learns he 
is to become a father for the first time—the divisions 
between human and nature begin to blur and shift. The 
place turns out to be a mirror, revealing what we are, 
what we’re not and how those two things are ultimately 
inseparable.This is a book about discovering a new 
world, a forgotten world on the fringes of our daily 
lives, and the richness that comes from uncovering 
the stories and lives—animal and human—contained 
within. It is an unforgettable piece of nature writing, 
part of a brilliant tradition that stretches 
from Gilbert White to Robert Macfarlane 
and Helen Macdonald.“I am dreaming of 
the edge-land again,” Cowen writes. Read 
Common Ground, and you, too, will be 
dreaming of the spaces in between, and 
what—including us—thrives there.

The Field: The Quest for the Secret 
Force of the Universe by Lynne 

In this groundbreaking classic, 
investigative journalist Lynne McTaggart 
reveals a radical new paradigm—that the 
human mind and body are not separate 
from their environment but a packet of 
pulsating power constantly interacting 
with this vast energy sea, and that 
consciousness may be central in shaping 
our world. The Field is a highly readable 
scientific detective story presenting a 
stunning picture of an interconnected 
universe and a new scientific theory that 
makes sense of supernatural phenomena. 
Documented by distinguished sources, 
The Field is a book of hope and inspiration 
for today’s world.

Watership Down: A Novel by 
Richard Adams 

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for 
more than forty years, Richard Adams’s 
book is a timeless classic and one of the 
most beloved novels of all time.Set in England’s Downs, 
a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of 
adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very 
special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of 
man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by 
a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from 
their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing 
trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious 
promised land and a more perfect society.


By Artistic Director, Christian Lebano

I am sitting in a small cabin on the coast of Oregon 
looking out at a rough and turbulent ocean. My family 
is getting ready to go out to breakfast on this blustery 
stormy day. I’ve come north to spend the holiday with 
one of my closest friends and to get away from the stress 
of the last few weeks.

 Thinking about what I would write about this week 
it became clear that in this week of Thanksgiving there 
is nothing else to write about but my overwhelming 
gratitude and thanks to the entire SMP family. I’ve 
joked that if it takes a village to raise a child – it takes 
a small army to run a theater. There are several people 
that don’t get the recognition they deserve. 

 I have to start with the Calaways, Louise and Ward. 
They have made keeping the Playhouse a part of the 
world of Sierra Madre a mission. Louise keeps us on 
the straight and narrow (or tries to!) with her brilliant 
accounting and sound financial advice and Ward 
manages the Operations of the theater from the box 
office to stocking supplies and then jumps in to help 
with the sets and the technical aspects of the shows. 
They both give more financial support than they should. 
Sierra Madre and the Playhouse are lucky that they love 
both so much.

 We have a small and dedicated staff who contribute 
so much to making the Playhouse what it is and to what 
it will be in the future: Mary Baville is often the first 
voice people meet when they are new to the Playhouse 
– she coordinates our box office sales. Mary is one of 
the best advocates for the work we are doing and is 
always available to our patrons for their questions and 
concerns. I can’t tell you how often I’m asked by patrons 
if Mary is at the theater because they want to meet the 
woman they have developed a phone friendship with.

 Daniel Pelletier is our webmaster. He has the endless 
job of keeping the website current and has lately been 
managing the e-blasts we send out. He is creative, 
dedicated, and always willing to do everything he can to 
put the Playhouse in its best light. 

 I’ve written about Diane Siegel’s lobby displays 
before, but she does so much more for the Playhouse. 
She devises all of the wonderfully clever outreach events 
we have with every show – making them interactive, 
interesting, and so much fun – and then she highlights 
them, often hilariously, on social media. She coordinates 
our Educational outreach for the Field Trip Series for 
the schools. And lately she has been helping us get our 
grants out. She is a treasure.

 Artistic Associate Alison Eliel Kalmus is well known 
to many in town and she has been a part of the Playhouse 
for much longer than I have. From the work she does 
with students at the AKT Academy, to directing, to 
producing special events like our upcoming An Evening 
with Groucho, to roping in her husband to work on our 
printing needs, to always being available to help with 
any crises – she is a stalwart and vital part of our success. 

Emily Hopfauf is our Administrative Assistant and has 
worked on many shows in many capacities, managing, 
doing props, painting, etc. She is humble and a bit shy 
but she is a ferocious worker whom you can count on to 
deliver when the odds are against you. We are so lucky 
to have her on the team.

 There is a trio of White Knights that have appeared 
on the horizon – Todd McCraw has joined us as our 
Technical Director and had made sense of the chaos that 
was our stock and jumps in on each show with his years 
of experience; David Gordon has taken us on as a project 
and is pushing us in ways we need to be pushed; and 
John Sparks has joined us as a producer and friend and 
brings his steady hand to everything he does.

 Phil Sokoloff has been our Publicity Rep for many 
years and he continues to push and prod the media and 
supporters to see our work. 

 We have a dedicated board who work hard to keep us 
going: Jim Harnagel, Paul Van Dorpe, Randy Ruppart 
and Joan Riback. I am so grateful that they get what we 
are trying to build and that they have stuck with us! 

 And then there is Estelle Campbell. There isn’t 
anything that has happened at the Playhouse that she 
hasn’t had a hand in. She is dedicated to our success in 
the most personal way. She has been a wonderful partner 
in all of the initiatives I’ve started – and a wonderful 
friend. We couldn’t do any of the many things we do 
without her.

 Finally, there is YOU – our loyal patrons, who come to 
see shows that you may not be familiar with, who support 
us by bringing friends AND making donations, who 
come to our play readings, and events, and concerts, who 
take pride in the growth that the Playhouse has seen in the 
last few years, who understand and see the potential and 
the necessity in having this wonderful resource in town. 
Thank you for making us part of your lives.

 I hope to see you at our Groucho Gala on Sunday, 
December 4! All proceeds go to the Playhouse – Frank 
Ferrante is donating his performance to us – and your 
tickets are tax-deductible after the first $30– it’s going 
to be a fantastic evening. See our website for more 
information. And come see A Little House Christmas – 
such a holiday treat. It runs through December 23. For 
tickets please call Mary in the box office at 626.355.4318. 
Hope to see you soon!

All Things By Jeff Brown


Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (October 24, 
1788 – April 30, 1879) was an American 
writer and an influential editor. She is the 
author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a 
Little Lamb” may be the individual most 
responsible for making Thanksgiving a 
national holiday in the United States; it 
had previously been celebrated only in 
New England. Each state scheduled its 
own holiday, some as early as October 
and others as late as January; it was 
largely unknown in the American South. 
Her advocacy for the national holiday 
began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before 
it was successful. In support of the 
proposed national holiday, Hale wrote 
letters to five Presidents of the United 
States: Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, 
Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and 
Abraham Lincoln. Her initial letters 
failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote 
to Lincoln convinced him to support 
legislation establishing a national holiday 
of Thanksgiving in 1863. The new national 
holiday was considered a unifying day 
after the stress of the American Civil War. 
Before Thanksgiving’s addition, the only 
national holidays celebrated in the United 
States were Washington’s Birthday and 
Independence Day.


By Sean Kayden


In Downtown Los Angeles 
at a little known venue called 
The Teragram Ballroom that 
holds 600 people, Bad Suns, 
performed to an electric sold out crowd last week. Off the 
heels of their fantastic sophomore LP, Disappear Here, the 
hometown quartet performed 17 songs, giving the slight 
advantage in song choices to their latest endeavor. However, 
the crowd was equally enthusiastic about the band playing 
songs off the older record, Language & Perspective as well. 
Kid Bloom, a young band from LA, kicked off the night with 
a handful of psychedelic pop tunes. For just a starter band, 
these guys definitely had charisma and intrigue to them. 
I’d certainly keep an eye out for this quintet in the future. 
The audience was quickly warmed up by alternative pop 
four-piece, COIN. The Nashville natives supplied the crowd 
with a performance full of allure and zest. The permutation 
of buoyant vocals and energetic synths had the audience 
clamoring for more. In what seemed to be a younger crowd, 
majority females, you could definitely hear the squealing for 
frontman Chase Lawrence. As they concluded their vivacious 
set, there was an alteration in energy as the buzz grew in 
anticipation for the headliners. 

 As quickly as Christo Bowman (lead vocals/guitar), 
Miles Morris (drums), Gavin Bennett (bass/keyboard), 
and Ray Libby (guitar), took to the stage and opened with, 
“Disappear Here”, they were promptly overwhelmed with an 
ovation from their fervent supporters. It was the band’s first 
appearance in LA in nearly two years and what a welcoming 
these young dudes received. It was one of the most energetic 
shows I’ve attended in some time as it appeared like everyone 
knew the words to every song, including the brand new 
ones. It felt as if nothing outside those doors Friday night had 
much relevance. We were all there, in support of Bad Suns, 
living in the moment, feeling the ecstasy inside and out. The 
second song of the night was, “Patience,” also off the brand 
new record. With slick guitars, heart-pounding drums, and 
Bowman’s crisp vocals, it was a lively track to say the least. The 
crowd was enthralled and singing zealously along to the lyrics, 
“All my dreams have been weighing me down/Like an anchor 
to my bed/I can live my life instead.” “Even In My Dreams, I 
Can’t Win” followed the same passion by both the band and 
the crowd. This one was a dance-worthy endeavor that had 
the crowd jumping with pure excitement. Bowman surely 
knew had to engage the crowd, bringing them closer in each 
time after a string of songs. “Dancing On Quicksand” stood 
out as it was off the band’s first album, a song immediately 
recognized by everyone in attendance. “Sleep Paralysis” 
features a lower tempo than the previous jams, but equally 
as engaging for the attendees. More of a straightforward rock 
effort, “Sleep Paralysis” provided the audience with another 
sort of side of Bad Suns. The crowd burst with exhilaration 
with one of the band’s older singles, “Transpose.” This one 
is a catchy, impassioned poppy track that lived up to its live 
rendition. A heart-palpitating tune, “Transpose” ignited yet 
another fire with the crowd, not like the previous one was 
even flaming out to begin with. 

 Bowman talked about why they haven’t been back to LA 
in nearly two years and expectedly it dealt with the making 
of their latest album, Disappear Here. He went on to say 
you’re about to hear some new ones now and the group did 
not disappoint in presentation, delivery, or execution. The 
string of new tracks featured “Daft Pretty Boys,” “Swimming 
In The Moonlight,” “Off She Goes” and the beautifully 
composed, “Maybe We’re Meant To Be Alone.” For this one, 
I noticed several people around me, mostly couples, singing 
to one another for this slower jam. This track may be one of 
the under the radar tunes from Bad Suns, but I must say, it 
might have been the best song of the night, in a collection of all 
great songs. It’s a change of pace for the band and because it’s 
different, it stood out from the pack. The last song before the 
encore was the fan-favorite, “Cardiac Arrest.” It’s an absolute 
heart-pounding track presenting addictive sounds, ardent 
vocals, and a deep yearning for summer. Bowman tells the 
crowd, “Don’t go anywhere now,” as shortly after leaving the 
stage, Bad Suns returns for the final three tracks. 

 They performed two off their debut album, but it was 
“Heartbreaker,” off the new record that was the highpoint. 
Perhaps it was because it’s freshest of the trio, but nonetheless, 
it’s a true gem. It’s a post-breakup track with a killer staccato 
bridge that electrified the already keen audience. Bad Suns 
bestowed us with “Salt” as the grand finale. An intricately 
performed song with strong lyrics to boot, the crowd was 
united as a strong sensation was in the atmosphere for 
sure. What occurred to me the most about the show wasn’t 
necessarily the spectacular 17-track performance by Bad 
Suns, but how the audience, was completely and utterly 
mesmerized by the band, their energy, and their songs. At 
face value, Bad Suns is a fun indie-pop-rock act, but perhaps if 
you dig a bit deeper at the lyrics, you’ll come to realize there is 
definitely more than what meets the eye, depending on who’s 
eye(s) are looking. In the end and even to my great surprise, 
Bad Suns put on more than just a hell of a performance. It was 
a validation that music and the love of particular music can 
just maybe, triumph all. At least for Friday night it surely felt 
like it. 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: