Psychobillies Prepare to Take Over Knott's Berry Farm

Categories: Culture

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Courtesy of Remy Casillas
(Left to right): Pizza Beat Ent. is Tawney Estrella and Remy Casillas
Remy Casillas still remembers when the subculture of psychobilly grabbed him from beyond the grave and refused to let go. The allure of badass standup bass players, mosh pits, B-movie gore, hot rods, creepers and pomade made the raucous celebration of the undead seem eternally cool.

"I went to [Katella] high school, and all of the jocks listened to Sublime and Kottonmouth Kings," Casillas says. "I was this skinny, nerdy kid, and I heard songs about riding in a Batmobile or about zombies, and I knew that psychobilly was my kind of music."

Casillas is dedicated not only to the music that nurtured him, but also to the tight community of his ilk, those who live for the hellified combination of punk, rockabilly and appreciation for the undead. And there are now enough of them to take over an amusement park.

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Statewide Mexican Folk Dance Summit Comes to UC Irvine This Weekend!

Categories: Culture

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Interested in starting a ballet folklórico group at your college? Or network with the best instructors while brushing up on a little zapateado? There's no better place to start than with the University Folklórico Summit happening this weekend at UC Irvine. The three-day event comes courtesy of a partnership between the Danzantes Unidos de California nonprofit and Ballet Folklórico de UCI.

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Inside the Edwardian Ball's Steampunk Circus

Categories: Culture

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Marco Sanchez
Of all the types of entertainment that people can experience, there has always been something magical about a circus. Though the traditional traveling circus of the 19th century has all but vanished in the wake of increasing animal awareness, various key circus elements which still possess their mystique have been incorporated into the repertoires of several touring performance art groups. Though there are a couple of these groups which are household names, one which continues to gather devotees has a very unique quality. The Edwardian Ball not only brings the magic to town, but it entices the people within the town to bring their own magic to the gathering.

Now in its 15th year, the Edwardian Ball's eclectic mix of musical acts, acrobatics, clowns, side-shows, elegant anachronisms, ballroom dancing, and steampunk couture continues to grow. When the Edwardian Ball comes to town, SoCal folks will have but a single day to experience it (Valentine's Day). On the eve of this auspicious occasion, Edwardian Ball hosts / producers Justin Katz and Mike Gaines spoke with the Weekly and provided a glimpse behind the magic of their swank variety show.


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UCI Play Explores American Racism, Through a Glass Darkly

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Paul R. Kennedy
Scene from The Liquid Plain
Black History Month doesn't officially begin until Feb. 1, but for Orange County theater, it came a bit early. In early January, South Coast Repertory mounted a production of Matthew Lopez' Obie-Award-winning play The Whipping Man, set in the turbulent final days of the Civil War and featuring a slave-owner returning from the battlefield and encountering two newly emancipated men. Closing tonight is the riveting Roger Guenveur Smith, bringing his one-man Rodney King show to the Segerstrom's Off-Center Festival (seriously, just see it.)

And opening tonight, is the California premiere of Naomi Wallace's The Liquid Plain. , which is part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's ambitious United States history cycle, American Revolutions, and was the winner of the 2012 Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American play.

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New Plays Push Boundaries at STAGESTheater

Categories: Culture, Theater

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A lusty chorus of huzzahs to STAGES Theatre! The county's longest-running storefront (going on 20-plus years) has chosen two new, or relatively unfamiliar, plays to local audiences, to begin 2015. And why should you give a shit? Well, new plays mean new voices, new stories. And while the umpeenth production of Dial M for Murder or the Pirates of Penzance might be great for a theater's bottom-line, it does absolutely nothing to grow the medium, or to suggest why people who aren't already into it should care in the slightest.

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'The Whipping Man' Shows a Side of the Civil War South You've Never Seen

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Courtesy South Coast Repertory
Cast of the Whipping Man (left to right): Adam Haas Hunter,Charlie Robinson and Jarrod M. Smith
Wait a minute: there were Jews, real, live, Torah-reading Jews in the Confederate states in the Civil War, many of whom actually fought FOR the South? And some of these Jews had slaves who were raised Jewish and actually considered themselves Jews?
Matthew Lopez' play, The Whipping Man may sound like a piece of historical speculative fiction, but it's based on true accounts of people like Judah Benjamin, a prominent Louisiana lawyer who was the first Jew ever elected to the U.S. Senate and who also served as the Confederacy's secretary of state.


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Straight Outta Broadway: Three Musical Theater Events Coming to Orange County

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Jeff Skowron and Timothy Hughes in Big Fish.

Love, despise or just don't give a general damn about them, musicals continue to reign supreme in American theater. They get the most attention, the most butts in seats per venue, and are pretty much what most god-fearing Americans care about when it comes to theater.

And if you're a fan of the bright lights and the (mostly) thin ideas of big, boffo Broadway musicals, you're in the right place for the next couple of weeks -- Orange County. From Big Fish to Pippin to Stephen Sondheim, here's three Broadway shows or events happening in OC, or right next door, this week:


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Knotfest - October 24-26, 2014 - San Manuel Amphitheater

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Rachael Mattice
Corey Taylor of Slipknot at Knotfest

Knotfest
October 24-26, 2014
San Manuel Amphitheater

Thank the Dark Lord the temperature in San Bernardino was only in the 80s on Saturday, as an estimated 50,000 metalheads, campers and revelers flocked to the San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore for Knotfest -- three days of camping and a dark carnival/heavy-metal music festival curated by Slipknot (who were inspired by European metal festivals) to bring a musical and cultural event of this magnitude to San Bernardino. For three days, fans explored dark art, fire, carnival rides, roller coasters music, and more.

The party got started Friday evening with Suicide Silence and The Black Dahlia Murder opening a nighttime show. Combined, Saturday and Sunday featured over 20 bands on a total of five stages per day. Saturday included bands such as Carcass, Testament, Fear Factory, Prong, Butcher Babies and In This Moment. Sunday offered bands like Napalm Death, Devildriver, Miss May I, Of Mice and Men, Killswitch Engage and Whitechapel.

Both nights were headlined by Slipknot, and night one featured main stage acts Black Label Society, Hatebreed, Black Label Society, Anthrax and Danzig. Night two also featured main stage acts Hellyeah, Atreyu, Tech N9NE, Volbeat, and Five Finger Death Punch.

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How Could 'War of the Worlds' Be Such a Bore?

Categories: Culture, Theater

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It's hard to tell if the actors in War of the Worlds: The Radio Play are pretending to be radio actors afraid of a Martian invasion of Earth, or if they are real actors fighting boredom. Whatever the case, they're losing either battle.

The mother of all mass media hoaxes, the effects of Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre actors' 1938 radio performance of H.G. Wells 1898 sci-fi classic, while sensationalized by the newspapers of the time, certainly showed the power of that mass media. While there was nothing like the widespread panic in the streets of America we commonly associate with the event, there were enough people who believed the entirely fictitious performance that the Federal Communications Commission seriously considered mandating that all radio programming be reviewed by government censors before broadcast.


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Schoolhouse Rock Live! - Samueli Theater - October 4, 2014

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Schoolhouse Rocks Live! Photo by Tim Trumble
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Samueli Theater
10/4/14

Children of the '70s and early '80s no doubt remember educational Schoolhouse Rock tunes like "Conjunction Junction," and "I'm Just a Bill." Similarly, children of the '90s likely experienced the catchy musical cartoon shorts when the series was put back on the air. Both the images from the series and many of the songs have made the Schoolhouse Rock brand a part of American culture. In 1996, a musical theater adaptation of the material called Schoolhouse Rock Live! premiered, and last weekend professional theater company Childsplay performed the show at Samueli Theater.

While the familiar cartoon images, as well as the memorable voice of Jack Sheldon (who originally sang many of the Schoolhouse Rock songs), were missed, Childsplay's minimalist production captivated the attention of parents and children alike. In fact, the atmosphere that parents brought to the theater was one of nostalgia as they all seemed to be chanting the old tunes -- both as an effort to increase their children's enthusiasm for the show as well as to celebrate their fondness for the material; but as soon as the show began, the audience became hooked into Childsplay's adaptation.

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