Malibu Seen

FROST, FOLIES, FATS AND MORE

In sour economic times there’s nothing like a great escape, and these days, the Music Center is just the place to get it. Fresh on the heels of the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film version, “Frost/Nixon,” is now on stage at the Ahmanson Theater. It stars our own Stacy Keach, who leads a cast of ten. Sister-in-law Jane Seymour was among those who wouldn’t miss opening night.

The show is based on the famed showdown between disgraced President Richard Nixon and flamboyant British talk show host David Frost. Keach’s Nixon couldn’t be more compelling and his take is spot on. Alan Cox’s performance as David Frost is brilliant to the point that you forget that you aren’t watching the real David Frost. The film was written by Peter Morgan, who has penned acclaimed films like “The Last King of Scotland,” “The Queen” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Understudy Bob Ari has been filling in since Keach’s real life medical drama, but the headliner could be back on his feet and in the spotlight before the run is over.

The Ahmanson’s latest production follows a splashy spectacle of a completely different sort, “Minsky’s.” There may have been a driving rain on opening night, but that didn’t stop music man Barry Manilow and fellow theater lovers like Eric Idle from joining in the fun.

As guests took their seats, they were welcomed to “Minsky’s”-the burlesque capital of the world, a place where “the legs are as long as the jokes are old.”

The big, romantic, musical comedy is set in depression-era New York and tells the tale of the Minsky Brothers’ theater. Billy Minsky reigns over a rollicking world of g-strings and pasties. It’s a place where profit margins are skimpy, but Billy knows he can still make a buck if he offers up legs and laughs and pushes the limit.

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The production numbers could give famed stripper Dita Von Teese a run for her money. One sizzling showgirl, for example, pays homage to fruity Carmen Miranda. Wearing only a few peels and emerging from a big bunch of tropical fruit, she belts out songs like “Who Needs Men When We’ve Got Bananas?” Diversions like this couldn’t come at a better time.

Producer Kevin McCollum is quick to point out parallels between today’s economy and the tough economic times of the past. He described “Minsky’s” as a welcomed relief, and said it “celebrates the fact that we need to laugh again.”

Part “42nd Street,’ part “Folies Bergere,” the music and dancing extravaganza has a simple recipe for success. As writer Bob Martin puts it, “It’s sexy, it’s buoyant and fun.”

And, if you’re a fan of Fats, the fun continues in April when “Ain’t Misbehavin'” comes to the Ahmanson. When it does, you can be sure the joint will be jumpin’.

BRAVO’S BEST

Congrats to Canyon Charter school’s Marlene Morris. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District teacher was among the 2009 finalists for the Music Center’s Bravo Awards. Fifteen teachers and three schools have been singled out for exemplary arts education. The honors come with a cash prize and are given in three categories: generalist, arts specialist and school recognition. The Bravo Awards were established in 1982 to recognize innovation and excellence in arts education.

Got a hot happening or cool event? Send the 411 to kimdevore@malibutimes.com

Got a hot happening or cool event? Send the 411 to kimdevore@malibutimes.com

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