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Singer’s brand of opera takes on an outrageous twist

48 Hours

After I said hello on the phone to opera singer Alison England, she

asked me to wait a second, adding “I’m going to take the rat off my

shoulder and put you on it.”

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“Did you say an r-a-t?” I asked.

Indeed, and it’s a trained rat.

“Yes. She’s missed me,” England said. “I just returned from a

seven-state tour over the last two weeks.”

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Along with the rat, she and 6-year-old daughter Molly Billman also

share their Glendora home with three cats, seven birds, a mouse,

seven fish -- and have joint custody of a duck and a dog with the

landlord.

The versatile artist has performed in concert at the Kennedy

Center, Radio City Music Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, sung

leading roles with the Seattle, Miami and other opera companies and

starred in musical theater productions of “The Sound of Music” and

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“The King and I.” She does her one-woman show, “Opera, Broadway &

Beyond,” Sunday for the Glendale Community Concerts Assn.

Our chat gave me a pretty good idea of her wacky sense of humor

and what life is like for a single mom whose work takes her around

the country. She does limit her road trips to only two weeks at a

time, for her daughter’s sake, she said.

“Having animals at our home is a way to keep home life normal,”

England said. “It’s hard on a kid whose mom is an entertainer.”

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On the other hand, Molly has learned a healthy sense of

independence. She stays with her dad while Mom is away, and is

capable of relying on herself, England said.

Sunday’s show begins with “Juliette’s Waltz” from “Romeo and

Juliet” by Charles Gounod, and progresses to Rodgers and

Hammerstein’s “Wonderful Guy” and a medley from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s

“Phantom of the Opera.”

England admits while she takes her opera seriously, her antics on

stage border on outrageous. She likens herself to a combination of

1950s opera singer Maria Callas, Judy Garland and Carol Burnett.

Take her recent appearance on a TV morning news show in Hawaii

while she was there performing in “La Boheme” with the Hawaii Opera

Theatre. She brought along a feather boa and when she sang an aria to

the show’s male host, taunted him with it.

“I was hanging upside down on the piano by the end of the aria,”

she quipped. “I do it to show opera singers can do other things. I

love being radical.”

Her playful take on the music, she said, helps alleviate the fear

people have of opera.

“You will love it, if you will understand it,” she said. “We need

more of that. Opera has to stay alive. It offers a very deep emotion,

any emotion -- sadness, fear, passion, anger, beauty -- it’s the

deepest emotion said as loud as possible. I love you! I hate you!”

she breaks into exuberant song.

England has produced and performed on two CDs, “Opera Broadway &

Beyond” and “World’s Greatest Love Songs” and appeared as a guest

star on the nationally syndicated TV sitcom, “Dharma & Greg.” She

teaches voice at Citrus College and at her own Hollywood studio. Her

Web site is www.alisonengland.com.

Tickets are $10. Show time is 2:30 p.m. Sunday with doors opening

at 1:30 p.m. at Glendale High School Auditorium, 1440 E. Broadway,

Glendale. For more information, call 248-4080 or 248-3133.

SPECIAL EVENTS

FASHION SHOW BENEFITS BALLET AT THE ALEX

A fashion show luncheon is planned for Sunday to raise funds to

produce the second ballet performance for Burbank’s Media City

Ballet.

The luncheon begins at noon in the Starlight Room of the Castaway

in Burbank and features champagne and Chicken Marsala, or Penne

Florentine for vegetarians, leading up to the grand finale --

strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

Romantic fashions from Ann of Magnolia will be modeled down the

runway, followed by excerpts from ballets danced by company members.

There will be lots of gift items offered in the silent auction.

The Castaway is at 1250 Harvard Road in Burbank. Free valet

parking is provided. Tickets are $50 each, with a discount for tables

of 10.

For reservations, call the Media Dance Center at 972-9692.

Funds raised will go to produce the company’s May 18 performance

at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. On the program will be the

“Rachmaninoff Sketches,” choreographed by company Artistic Director

Natasha Middleton and danced to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #3, and

the famous Armenian ballet, “Gayane,” choreographed by company

Associate Director Ruben Tonoyan.

BRAHMS’ GERMAN REQUIEM IN CONCERT

The Armenian Missionary Assn. of America and the Lark Musical

Society are co-sponsoring a performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Ein

Deutsches Requiem” at 6 p.m. Sunday in the sanctuary of the First

United Methodist Church of Glendale.

Performing the concert will be the Lark chorus, soloists and

orchestra directed by Vatsche Barsoumian. The text will be sung in

German with the projection of English and Armenian subtitles.

Soloists are soprano Alenoush Yeghnazar and baritone Ara Kourouyan.

Tickets range from $20 to $50 and are available at Abril

Bookstore. The church is at 401 E. Broadway in Glendale. For more

information, call 500-9997.

FREE PERFORMANCE GIVEN OF ‘MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’

A free performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be given by

Shakespeare at Play at 2 p.m. today at Buena Vista Library, 300 N.

Buena Vista St., Burbank.

The company offers classes in sword fighting and stage combat,

beginning acting and cold reading workshops. Drama coach Ruben Moreno

will be conducting film acting workshops for children and adults at

the studio in the Theatre Arts Courtyard in the Burbank Village.

For more information, call 566-1925.

TV AND FILM STAR JOINS IMPROV TROUPE

The Really Spontaneous Theatre Company welcomes actor Bodhi Elfman

to The Third Stage in Burbank.

Elfman has appeared in the films “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “The Mod

Squad.” On TV, he has been seen in “Malcolm in the Middle” and

“Providence.”

The improv troupe performs at 7 p.m. Sundays at The Third Stage,

2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Tickets are $15. For reservations,

call (323) 969-4991.

TRACY AND THE CREW AT HIGHLAND GROUNDS

Tracy & the Hindenburg Ground Crew will appear at 9 tonight at

Highland Grounds, 742 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood.

The band is a Burbank-based roots- and punk-influenced alternative

pop combo. Formed in 1992, the band now features former Morris Tepper

sideman and Glendale resident Miiko Watanbe playing bass and tuba,

Ralf Balzer on drums, Eagle Rock resident Danny McGough on keyboards,

Christian Carbone on guitar, and Burbank resident Tracy Thielen

performing vocals.

Also on the stage will be Jessica Brody at 8 p.m., Nadine Zahr at

10 and Adam Freedman at 11.

There is a $5 cover charge. For more information, call (323)

466-1507.

ON STAGE

NUCLEAR FAMILY EXAMINED IN COLLEGE PRODUCTION

“Keeping Up with the Joneses,” a play by Nate Eppler, is being

produced by the Glendale Community College Theatre Arts Department.

Eppler explores the inner workings of a family of geniuses, which

includes a would-be superhero, an ornithologist, a 16-year-old

biology expert and a physicist working for the Department of Defense.

He uses nuclear war as a metaphor for the nuclear family and asks why

anyone would build such a terrible weapon.

“Keeping Up with the Joneses” has been nominated for four

playwriting competitions, including the Mark Twain Award for best new

comedy.

Performances are at 8 tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday in the GCC

Auditorium Studio Theatre. The play continues at 8 p.m. Thursday,

Friday and April 12 and at 2 p.m. April 13.

Due to limited seating, reservations are recommended. Doors open

30 minutes before each show. Tickets are $7, $5 for students and

seniors. For reservations, call 240-1000, ext. 5618. There will be

no late seating.

A NOISE WITHIN PRODUCING CLASSICS

Preview performances are underway for A Noise Within’s “The King

Stag,” playing in repertory with “O Pioneers” and “Measure For

Measure.” “The King Stag” opens Friday and continues through May 18

in Glendale.

Carlo Gozzi’s classic is directed by Joe Graves. The story is

about Deramo, King of Serendippo, who longs for a queen who honestly

loves him. Having already seen all the lovely ladies in the land,

Deramo seeks the help of a magician to conjure up his true love. But

when the magic falls into the wrong hands, life changes in the

kingdom and a struggle ensues between good and evil.

Artistic co-directors and husband and wife, Geoff Elliott and

Julia Rodriguez Elliott, direct “O Pioneers,” a stage adaptation of

Willa Cather’s novel. Heroine Alexandra Bergson leads her family into

the 1880s Midwest to carve out a living from a forbidding land.

It runs in repertory through May 15 with Shakespeare’s “Measure

for Measure,” which continues through May 10.

As part of his plan to arrest the moral decay plaguing his beloved

city, the Duke of Vienna abdicates power to his trusted subordinate

Angelo in order to travel incognito throughout his realm. Angelo, a

man of unblemished reputation, sentences Claudio, an unwitting

citizen, to death for “sinful indiscretions” as an example to all who

would err.

Claudio’s tenacious and pure-hearted sister, Isabella, rushes to

her brother’s aid, unleashing a deadly passion in Angelo. Thus begins

the age-old confrontation between compassion and intolerance, public

morality and private lechery, in Shakespeare’s tale of the measure of

mercy.

The former Masonic temple building is at 234 S. Brand Blvd.,

Glendale. Tickets range from $18 to $38 and can be reserved by

calling 240-0910.

‘CAMELOT’ CONTINUES AT CENTRE THEATRE

Hail back to the glorious reign of King Arthur in Lerner and

Loewe’s “Camelot,” produced by Glendale Centre Theatre.

Merlin and the knights of the Round Table are all here as well as

the musical triumphs “The Lusty Month of May” and “If Ever I Would

Leave You.”

The play continues through April 12. Tickets range from $14 to

$17. For reservations, call 244-8481. Glendale Centre Theatre is at

324 N. Orange St., Glendale.

The children’s musical “Cinderella” runs at 11 a.m. Saturdays through June 18.

‘2ND WIND THE MUSICAL’ IS BACK ON STAGE

The revival performance of the rock opera, “2nd Wind the Musical

2002,” has returned with two new songs. Show time is 8 tonight at

the Gene Bua Acting For Life Theatre in Burbank.

The story is about an acting coach, Teacher, who rallies together

three celebrity volunteers to help him with a new program at

Strawberry Fields Residential Treatment Center. They attempt to teach

three street kids how to turn their rage, fear and shame into

positive energy through acting.

Tickets are $25 with discounts available for seniors, groups and

teens. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Here’s To Life Foundation,

reaching at-risk youth through art and entertainment. For

reservations, call (310) 680-9109. The play continues through May 3.

The playhouse is at 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank.

ART EXHIBITS

ARTIST HAS 33RD EXHIBIT AT DESCANSO

Ruth Basler Burr has returned to Descanso Gardens for her 33rd

annual one-woman art exhibit “Reflections.” The former La Canada

Flintridge resident, whose watercolors and prints are in collections

worldwide, will bring familiar scenes this year to Descanso’s Boddy

House Gallery.

The exhibit, concluding Thursday, includes a new group of

paintings of the gardens as she remembers them during the many years

she walked its pathways with her friends.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and admission is free

with paid gardens fee. Descanso Gardens is at 1418 Descanso Drive, La

Canada Flintridge. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Parking

is free. Admission is $5, $3 for seniors and students, $1 for

children 5 to 12 and free for members and children 5 and younger. For

information, call 949-4200 or visit www.DescansoGardens.org.

FAMOUS BATTLE SCENES EXHIBITED AT LOCAL MUSEUM

Paintings of battle scenes by Toluca Lake resident John Pomeroy,

ranging from 9 by 12 feet to wall size, are on exhibit at the Forest

Lawn Museum in Glendale.

A supervising animator with Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pomeroy

has captured in oil such famous scenes as Alexander the Great at the

Battle of Granicus in this exhibit “Windows of War: Historical

Paintings by John Pomeroy.”

The exhibit continues through April 26. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5

p.m. daily. The museum is at Forest Lawn, Glendale, 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale. Admission and parking are free. For more information,

call 204-3131, ext. 4545.

NATIONAL COLLAGE EXHIBIT AT BRAND

A representation of some of the finest contemporary collage works

by artists from throughout the United States are included in the

“Open ’03,” a show sponsored by the Collage Artists of America at

Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale.

Seventy original works were selected for the show by juror Suzanne

Muchnic, art writer for the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles

correspondent for ARTnews magazine.

Residents showing their works are Jane Friend of Glendale and

Sandra Rooney of La Crescenta.

Friend’s entry, “Tide Pool,” was created with handmade paper and

acrylic paint. Rooney’s entry is called “Rhythm in Blues” and is a

mixed-media piece.

Exhibit Chairman is John Selleck. Admission and parking are free.

The show continues through April 18. Gallery hours are 1 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday, 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday

and Saturday. Brand galleries are at 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale.

For more information, call 548-2051.

MUSEUMS

BURBANK HISTORICAL SOCIETY OFFERS EXHIBITS OF BURBANK

The Burbank Historical Society’s Gordon R. Howard Museum Complex

features exhibits of early Burbank. There are extensive collections

of vintage vehicles, costumes, dolls, cameras and special sections on

the history of Lockheed, Disney and Warner Bros. studios.

Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The complex is at

1015 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. Parking is available at the George Izay

Park lot off Clark Avenue.

For more information, call 841-6333.

BURBANK MUSEUM HONORS AVIATION PIONEERS

Burbank Aviation Museum is dedicated to the memory of the men and

women who made aviation history in the San Fernando Valley.

Located at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Cemetery, artifacts are

displayed in the Portal of the Folded Wings-Shrine to Aviation, an

ornate domed building that is listed on the National Register of

Historic Places. Visitors can enter on Valhalla Boulevard behind

Fry’s Electronics, off Hollywood Way or use the main entrance at

10621 Victory Blvd.

The Portal building is accessible from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for

viewing the cenotaphs and burial stones.

The aviation displays can be viewed from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For more information,

call 845-3300.

THE DOCTORS’ HOUSE FEATURES GLENDALE HISTORY

The Doctors’ House, tucked inside Brand Park in Glendale, is a

Victorian home in Queen Anne Eastlake-style open to the public from 2

to 4 p.m. Sundays. Built in the 1880s by real-estate entrepreneur

E.T. Byram, the house has been restored. Brand Park is at 1601 W.

Mountain St., Glendale.

LOOKING BACK AT THE LANTERMAN HOUSE

The Lanterman House, owned by the city of La Canada Flintridge, is

operated by the Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation and is open to

the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and the first and

third Sundays of the month.

The house was built in 1914 by the founding family of La Canada

Flintridge. The city took ownership in 1987, and public tours have

been offered since 1995.

For information, call 790-1421.

BOLTON HALL FEATURES EARLY SUNLAND, TUJUNGA

Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga, run by the Little Landers

Historical Society, features historical displays relating to the

Sunland and Tujunga areas. It is open to the public at 1 p.m.

Tuesdays and Sundays. Admission is free. The museum is at 10110

Commerce Ave., Tujunga.

For information, call 352-3420.

A LITTLE JAZZ WITH DINNER

RUSTY PELICAN COOKS WITH LIVE MUSIC

Glendale’s Rusty Pelican, 300 Harvey Drive in Glendale, serves

dinner and Sunday brunch, but really cooks with its live singing and

music.

2AZZ1 and The Body & Soul Band, featuring Burbank residents Craig

and Mary Durst, performs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. There is no cover and

no minimum.

There’s karaoke from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays, live jazz from

7:30 to 11 p.m. Fridays and live blues from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Saturdays. For information or to make reservations, call 242-9191.

RESTAURANT OFFERS MUSIC FROM ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s

The Oceanview Bar and Grill offers live entertainment six nights a

week for diners.

Entertainers perform a combination of piano and jazz guitar

pieces, and some accompany with vocals.

Musical selections include a mix of music from the 1920s, ‘30s and

‘40s to opera to Celine Dion. Some entertainers also perform their

original pieces and invite diners to sing along with them.

Jennifer Russell and Michael Gayle sing jazz while playing piano

and guitar from 7 to 10 tonight. Singing behind the piano the rest of

the week are Bill Howe on Monday; Travis Warren, Tuesday; Mary Ekler,

Wednesday; Alexandra Caselli, Thursday; and Bob Fetherolf, Friday.

The Oceanview Bar and Grill is at 3826 Ocean View Blvd. For more

information, call 248-2722.

JAX OFFERS SUPPER, JAZZ EVERY NIGHT

Jax Bar and Grill is a supper club offering live jazz every night

of the week.

Show times are 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 p.m.

to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Sunday. Happy Hour Jazz is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through

Saturday.

Tonight, the spotlight shines on Laurie Melan. Dead Ringer

performs Sunday. The schedule for the week is the Eldad Tarmu Trio on

Monday; Danny Weinstein & Viva on Tuesday; Brian Elliott Trio on

Wednesday; Jack Sheldon on Thursday; and Jennifer York on Friday.

Jax is at 339 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. For more information, call

500-1604.

KARAOKE

SWING DANCING, KARAOKE COMBINE AT THE MIX

The Mix, at 2612 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, offers Top 40 music

played by a disc jockey on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On

Wednesday, there is swing-dancing instruction from 8 to 9 p.m.

followed by swing dancing from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Karaoke is

offered at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. There are also 12 pool tables and a

pool league, dart boards and a darts league, and the occasional

live-music band. Cover is $3 on the weekend, $2 on Tuesdays and $5 on

Wednesdays. Call 248-3040.

ATTRACTIONS

EQUESTRIAN CENTER GREAT FOR HORSING AROUND

The Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 480 Riverside Drive in Burbank,

has horse events throughout the year but also rents out the animals

from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Horse rentals are $20 for one hour,

$30 for 1 1/2 hours, and $35 for two hours, all with a $15 deposit,

cash only. Private hourlong lessons are $35.

Private parties can take night rides or, for the summer only,

sunset barbecue rides. The sunset rides are also open to the public.

To horse around, call 840-8401, or for general information about the

center, call 840-9063.

* If you have press releases for the 48 Hours column, please

call JOYCE RUDOLPH at 637-3241 or e-mail joyce.rudolph@latimes.com or

fax them to 241-1975.


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