One of the great things about living in the Los Angeles area is your close proximity to lots of amazing cultural events. The entertainment business is based here and Los Angeles is an important gigantic city, so on any weekend (and most weekdays) one can see extraordinary concerts, speakers, dance exhibitions, art exhibitions, plays and musicals. We have four major art museums here in Pasadena alone.
Because of this, the finest artists, writers, actors, dancers and musicians are drawn to this area.
One of them that actually grew up here is my friend, Ray Bradbury. And, lucky us, Ray puts on plays of his work for nine months out of the year at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. Ray is there every Saturday night to introduce his plays and sign his books. Like I said, lucky us!
This last Sunday (Valentine’s Day) was extra special. Prior to the usual 3:00 PM matinee performance of one of his plays, Ray himself spoke for nearly an hour on the subject of Love.
I brought my youngest son James to the show. James is a big Bradbury fan but had never met him (it’s usually my other son Andy helping me out at my booth at Comic-Con when Ray comes by). I was pleased to be able to remedy this situation.
If you’ve never heard Ray Bradbury speak (a man I consider one of America’s Living Treasures), you have my sincerest sympathies.
One of the anecdotes in Ray’s talk concerned Gene Kelly and Singin’ in the Rain. After a screening of that film at which Kelly was present (only in L. A.!), Ray congratulated Gene on making one of the finest science fiction films ever. Mr. Kelly was taken aback at first until Ray explained that the backdrop subject of the film was how a new technology introduced into our culture can change everything. In this story’s case, it was the addition of sound to motion pictures.
Gene lit up. He and Ray were fast friends ever since that moment.
My son James insisted we watch Singin’ in the Rain after we returned home. You don’t need me to tell you what a flawless masterpiece that movie is — every single second. After hearing Ray talk about it, however, I saw it with new eyes.
The play we saw after Ray’s talk was Wisdom 2116, a musical originally written by Ray for his friend and mentor Charles Laughton and Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester, whose marriage inspired the play. Unfortunately, Laughton passed away before the play could be put on with those two as its stars.
This musical is based upon Ray’s O. Henry-like short story, “Marionettes, Inc.” Ray has altered the ending, changing it from a chilling horror tale into a meditation on love and aging. Magnificent!
This play will be up until February 27. If you live in this area (or will be visiting this area during its run), don’t miss it!
PS: Heads up! My big one man show career retrospective opens this Thursday at the Laguna College of Art + Design (see “Appearances” on this site for details). Don’t Miss it!