Community Theater for the Community

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I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews.

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next.

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went.

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT!

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine…

ORGANIC AND FROM FRANCE, I MIGHT ADD…

… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show.

DIRECT FROM MAMA’S HOT TAMALES!

Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived!

ONE TAMALE, TWO TAMALE…

There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance.

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy!

NEED TO KNOW:

Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm

 

BLACK DOG COFFEE: GOOD GRUB FOR A GOOD PRICE

Last Saturday night at Noche Cubana, I was a dancin’ fool. My YouTube lessons really paid off. I even started a Conga Line!  It took a few go-rounds; but, in the end, my dance partner and I succeeded in whipping everybody into a dance frenzy. We got ‘em up on the floor where most of them stayed for the remainder of the night.

After all that excitement, Natascha and I decided to meet up again the next morning to reminisce over some serious coffee and a good breakfast. With the salsa beats still ringing in my ears, I headed on down to meet her at Black Dog Coffee, where I knew we’d get just what we needed.

First on the agenda – the coffee. Back in 2002, the first thing then boyfriend and I noticed about this little gem on Wilshire Boulevard was the sign on their window: Home of the Caffe Cubano. This is their signature coffee. On our first visit, we ordered the largest ones we could get at $4 apiece. They were fantastic. All coffee drinks are delicious – made from whole bean fair trade Groundworks coffee

As then boyfriend and I continued to frequent the café, we naturally began to explore the menu. Over the years, as we evolved, Black Dog’s menu did as well. The results have always been tasty. One of the newest items is breakfast soup that’s served all day. It consists of their homemade black bean soup, topped with two poached eggs, cheese, diced tomato and onion and garnished with avocado and sour cream.  I like to dispense with the sour cream myself. Sour cream or no, the whole kit and caboodle comes in at $5.25.

There are a whole lot of great items on the menu here, and everything is fresh and wholesome. If I was pressed to choose my favorite, it would probably be what they call their signature sandwich, the roast turkey pesto. $6.50 is perhaps not the least expensive sandwich; but, for the sheer quality you’re getting with this baby, it is incredible.

First and most important, the meat is real turkey breast, not that weird lunchmeat-type processed material. The combo of the fresh pesto sauce and cranberries is outstanding; and, the bread? – It’s a quality seeded baguette that is really delicious. The size is cost effective too. For someone who’s watching calories, you can easily make two meals out of it.

For breakfast, I favor either the breakfast soup or their Mexican scrambled eggs, once again without sour cream, for $4.75.This dish is eggs or egg whites, tortilla strips, cheese, diced tomatoes, a little red onion, and their original salsa, with sour cream and avocado garnish. A meal for under $5 is always a plus.

The other item that’s really outstanding is the homemade soups that Black Dog dishes up every day. Every day is a different group of soups and they are all outstanding. Clam Chowder with Bacon, Barley Mushroom, Corn Cactus, Chicken Noodle – from the exotic to the familiar, from healthy to er, a bit less, they’ve got something for every palate. The soups are reasonably priced, coming in at $3.75/$4.50, depending on size.

Finally, you might guess from the name that Black Dog is pooch-friendly. You and your dog can sit outside at the sidewalk tables, no problemo. You can enjoy a leisurely meal prepared and served by the friendly staff while you read the paper or people-watch on Wilshire Boulevard. There’s always fresh water outside for your canine friend; and, inside, a big bowl of free doggie treats awaits. Nice to know your buddy can also get a little treat while you enjoy the tasty grub.

NEED TO KNOW:

Black Dog Coffee   5657 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036  (map) http://goo.gl/maps/gWREh

Phone: 323-933-1976

Hours: Mon-Fri 7a.m. – 6 p.m.    Sat-Sun 8 a.m. – 4 p.m

Metered parking and several 2 hour unmetered spots on nearby side streets such as Masselin.

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