Middle East
Risking kidnapping, or worse, we explored Islamic State's self-declared caliphate in Syria. Here's what happened

Arts Year in Review: Birthdays and big names

You say it's your birthday? It's their birthday too, yeah.

There were plenty of candles being blown out — literally and figuratively — as two of Costa Mesa's most venerable institutions hit a milestone in 2013. South Coast Repertory kicked off its 50th season in August with a production of "Death of a Salesman," and the theater plans to conclude the season next spring with "Tartuffe," the French farce that opened its first go-round in 1964.

The second major institution was, well, Costa Mesa itself, which held a three-day 60th-anniversary bash on Fair Drive in June. Honoring six decades of pop music, officials even invited back British rockers Eric Burdon and the Animals — whose performance at the Newport Pop Festival, held in Costa Mesa in 1968, proved so rowdy that it helped inspire the then-City Council to discontinue the festival after one year.

There was plenty of reason to look back in 2013, but also plenty of excitement in the here and now. Let's hope that some of the last year's highlights — say, the visit from the "Arrested Development" banana stand on Balboa Island — will become ongoing traditions as well.

Dachshunds stand tall: The Newport Beach Film Festival featured an all-star lineup this year, as always: The Green Day documentary "Broadway Idiot" opened the 14th annual festival in April, and subsequent entries featured Steve Carell, Jean-Claude Van Damme and a century's worth of Disney favorites. But the film that sold out first? The family comedy "Wiener Dog Nationals," about a dachshund who becomes a champion on the race track. (Insert your own joke here involving the word "underdog.")

A 'start-up' in Balboa: Those who have waited two decades for the reopening of the Balboa Performing Arts Theater may have their wish — but the Balboa Village Theatre, as the proposed venue has been renamed, looks to be more modest than its backers previously planned. Steve Beazley, chief executive of the theater's foundation, said in November that the venue may resemble "more of a start-up" than a lavish arts center due to funding uncertainty. The structure, though, remains on track to open in 2015.

Who's your benefactor?: Roger Daltrey, who once snarled, "Hope I die before I get old" on the Who's "My Generation," is now working to prevent that from happening to ailing youths. The singer brought his campaign for Teen Cancer America to the OC Fair this summer, giving the audience a program of Who hits as well as a demonstration of aging gracefully.

Get me painkillers!: A show about travel nurses that portrays them as dedicated, colorful professionals — who could it possibly offend? Well, thousands of people, at least. MTV's reality show "Scrubbing In," filmed partly in Costa Mesa, drew the ire of petitioners, who decried its heavy doses of sex, partying and profanity. That controversy, though, didn't lead to massive ratings; in November, Variety reported that MTV had agreed to rethink and reschedule the show after a tepid response in prime time.

There's always money in the banana stand: And plenty of community pride. Netflix announced in the spring that it would promote new episodes of "Arrested Development" by bringing a replica of Bluth's Original Frozen Banana — the confection stand from the Newport Beach-set show — around the United States and England. The tour didn't include a stop in Newport, though, until a Change.org petition and a shout-out from then-Mayor Keith Curry helped draw attention. In June, the stand appeared in the 20th annual Balboa Island Parade, and Curry awarded Netflix representatives a key to the city.

'Crying Game' musical, anyone?: When Alice Cooper played at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in November, a few may have reflected that "Wayne's World" — source of that iconic "We're not worthy!" line — is now 21 years old. Apparently, '90s nostalgia is in full swing now: Segerstrom hosted musicals based on "Sister Act" (1992) and "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (1994) this year, and coming soon are live takes on "Ghost" (1990) and "Beauty and the Beast" (1991).

Have guitar, will administrate: UC Irvine arts dean Joe Lewis showed off his musical chops with the October release of "Three Black Bungalows," a bluesy album recorded with guitarist-songwriter John Chiodini. As recording projects go, this was a Ph.D. thesis rather than a five-page paper: The earliest song on the album dates to 1968, and Lewis and Chiodini started the recording process 15 years ago before putting the project on hold.

Who sees those shorts? We do: The Irvine International Film Festival got a major boost from the Academy in January when nine of its scheduled short films — including the poignant "Inocente," which went on to win Best Documentary Short — scored Oscar nods. Here's hoping for similar luck when the 2013 nominations are announced Jan. 16.

Boys will be (older) Boys: The teen pop idols of two generations — the Beach and Backstreet Boys — came to town this year, with the latter playing the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in September and the former bringing a Christmas-themed show to Segerstrom in December. Brian Wilson, sadly, didn't accompany his bandmates on this jaunt, but all the original Backstreeters were still around.

Yes, they're human too: It's always reassuring to know that celebrities are struggling mortals like the rest of us. In Daily Pilot interviews this year, we learned that Lily Tomlin once weighed becoming a mime, that Martin Short vowed to quit show business as a young man if he had an unprofitable year, and that Bernadette Peters took a teenage aptitude test that recommended a career in hygiene.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World