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Supremes at Starlight Bowl tribute concert


Music tours have taken Kaaren Ragland and her group, The Sounds of

the Supremes, to more than 30 countries. Lots of funny things happen

on the road, but one incident that still makes her chuckle happened


during rehearsal for an America Red Cross benefit concert in Kenya.

“We were doing a sound check on the beach, and camels walked by. I

thought, ‘Oh boy, where am I?’ ” she said.

That shouldn’t be a problem when the female trio joins other


Motown tribute bands in the first of the city-sponsored concerts

Sunday at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank.

Growing up, Motown was a big inspiration to Ragland, who explained

that the unique spelling of her first name is the result of her

mother having too much free time in the hospital pouring over tons of

books on babies’ names.

Ragland listened to groups of the 1960s who inspired Motown, which

is a style of rhythm and blues with elements stemming from black


gospel music.

“I absolutely loved all Motown,” she said. “But I never

anticipated joining the group.”

In 1977, Ragland was singing at The Improv in Hollywood and

working with Phil Moore, a music arranger for some of Hollywood’s top

names, including Lena Horne in the 1940s.

He was arranging music for many Vegas acts, including a group Mary

Wilson of the original Supremes started after Diana Ross’ departure


in 1970 to start a solo career. When Wilson’s trio was losing one of

its singers, Moore introduced Wilson to Ragland. She auditioned, and

got the job.

“I replaced Scherrie Payne,” she said. “Physically, I resembled

her quite a bit.”

Ragland remembers the first rehearsal at Wilson’s home, which, she

said, was “palatial.” Along with singing the Supremes’ songs, Ragland

was learning the choreography from Cindy Birdsong, who had replaced

Florence Ballard of the original Supremes.

The experience was overwhelming, to say the least.

“I was in awe of them,” she said. “They were icons.”

But she kept her cool.

“You do your thing. When you are that young, you are fearless,”

she said.

The new group achieved worldwide success, even performing for

Princess Margaret.

Today, Ragland keeps the sound alive through the group she founded

in 1989, The Sounds of the Supremes. Joining them in Sunday’s Motor

City Memories concert are tribute groups of the Temptations,

featuring Temptations former lead singer Richard Street, and Junior

Walker & the All-Stars.

What makes Motown evergreen to audiences, Ragland said, is the

wonderful material by superb writers.

Her group stays true to the material and choreography of the

original Supremes. And each of the singers gets a turn at singing the

lead vocals, she said.

“The music brings back a lot of memories and we encourage people

to sing along,” she said. “It’s just a fun evening.”

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking, and the concert begins at

6:30. Tickets at the gate are $7, $4 for seniors 60 and older, $4 for

children 3 to 12 and free for children 2 and younger. Parking is $5.

For more information, call 525-3721 or check the Web site




For his great music, showmanship and courage, the Gay Men’s Chorus

of Los Angeles honors Elton John this weekend at The Alex Theatre in


David Cobb, a chorus member and fanatic of the rock phenomenon of

the 1970s and 1980s, suggested to the group’s music advisory

committee use of John’s music for an upcoming concert, and members

embraced the idea.

“For a gay chorus, who better to honor than one of the most

successful gay performers there has ever been,” Artistic Director

Bruce Mayhall said. “He had a top 40 record every year for 25 years

in a row. It’s amazing.”

Aside from his great music, John showed great courage admitting he

was gay at a time when most gays were not out, Mayhall said.

John’s music is also familiar to the next generation, he said,

with his writing the music for “The Lion King.”

“It’s everybody’s contemporary music,” he said.

John’s early music was so different than what was popular at the

time, Cobb said. Guitar gods were rocking the music world, but here

was John, writing sensitive, sweet pieces, sitting behind a piano.

“He spoke to me because I played piano at an early age,” he said.

“His vocal delivery was unique at the time and was attached to

beautiful songwriting, a sound nobody had heard.

“He was outrageous with his costumes and glasses, adding flash and

glamour and style to playing at the piano, and looking back on it as

a soon-to-be-gay man, it appealed to me on a subconscious level.”

The show’s songs range from his early career through today. One

segment features “My Strongest Suit,” from the musical “Aida,”

Mayhall said.

“It has this great text saying that a person’s strongest suit is

how he dresses, so the references to Elton are obvious,” he said.

While the piece is a song-and-dance number for the chorus, it also

includes a parade of the most outrageous Elton-esque costumes.

Making an encore appearance are the chorus’ puppets, which

audiences really adore, Mayhall said. This time, they will be

performing to “Crocodile Rock.”

The concerts are 8 tonight and 3 p.m. Sunday. Chorus member Bill

Bowersock is producer. Tickets range from $15 to $45 and are

available by calling The Alex Theatre box office at 243-2539. The

Alex is at 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale.


“Then & Now,” an exhibit of works by award-winning ceramicist

Ricky Maldonado, are on display at the Creative Arts Center Gallery

in Burbank.

Maldonaldo, a master coil builder and multiple-award winner, is

known for his geometrically detailed pottery. His work is included in

many public and private collections and has been shown in numerous

publications, including “Ceramics Monthly.” He is also this year’s

recipient of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts,

Emerging Artists.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday

through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. The Creative Arts

Center is at 1100 W. Clark Ave., Burbank. For more information, call




“Rapunzel,” written by Lori Marshall and directed by Joseph Leo

Bwarie, opens today at The Falcon Theatre in Burbank.

Based on the classic fairy tale of love and deception by the

Brothers Grimm, Rapunzel and friends look high and low for happiness

in a magical forest, only to find that it was right in front of them

all along.

Performances are 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays through

Sept. 7. Tickets are $10. The Falcon is at 4252 Riverside Drive,

Burbank. For reservations, call 955-8101.


As part of its third annual summer season in Glendale’s Brand

Park, the Action/Reaction Theater Company presents the musical comedy

“The Fantasticks,” with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by

Harvey Schmidt. Performances are tonight, Friday and Saturday. All

performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

When it closed in New York in 2002, “The Fantasticks” set a record

as the world’s longest-running musical with more than 17,000

performances spanning a 42-year run. Beyond New York, “The

Fantasticks” has played in every state of the U.S., as well as 67

countries. With memorable songs, such as “Try to Remember,” the

musical tells a story involving two fathers who instigate a mock feud

to inspire their children to fall in love.

The company will also produce Paul Osborn’s romantic comedy “The

Vinegar Tree,” July 25 and 26 and Aug. 1 and 2. All shows begin at

7:30 p.m.

Admission is free, however, due to budgetary constraints, a $10

donation would be gratefully received.

Michael Holmes directs the Equity productions, with musical

direction by Ghadi Shayban, choreography by Alex Pevic and costumes

by Don Nelson. Brand Park is at 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale.

Productions are staged in front of the historic Doctor’s House

Museum. Guests are welcome to bring picnics and refreshments. For

preferred seating and more information, call 786-1045.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Holmes, the

Action/Reaction Theater Company is an ensemble of actors, directors

and playwrights, consistently recognized among the top small theater

companies in Los Angeles.



“The Journey,” winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Milan

International Film Festival, is being shown at the Glendale Cinemas,

501 N. Orange St., Glendale.

It is directed by Edwin Avaness and Emy Hovanesyan. It stars Sona

Tatoyan as Eve, a photojournalist assigned to document the 1991

independence movement of Armenia.

For more information, visit the Web site at


Bruce Lee fans and martial arts enthusiasts from around the world

will be meeting at the convention this weekend at the Burbank Airport

Hilton Convention Center.

Show hours are noon to 6 p.m. both days. Tickets are $15 and are

available at the door or through Ticketmaster. The convention center

is at 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank. For more information, call




A retrospective exhibit by Mary Heussenstamm is on display through

July 31 at the La Canada Library, 4545 Oakwood Ave., La Canada


A resident of La Crescenta, Heussenstamm is known mainly for her

watercolor portraits, but the exhibit includes papier-mache masks,

collages and still lifes never seen by the public.

For more information, call 790-3330.



Abstract paintings by Armenian artist Alexander Sadoyan are being

shown at Patrick’s Cafe in Glendale.

The exhibit continues through July 31. Patrick’s Cafe is at 6320

San Fernando Road in Glendale. For information, call 246-8170.


The Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce and the News-Press

are co-hosting the Art Walks 2003 demonstration and sale by local

fine artists from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today along the 2300 and 2400

blocks of Honolulu Avenue in Montrose.

For more information, call 249-7171.


Glendale photographer and author Delmar Watson will present a talk

on “When America Had Heroes” at the Ice-Cream Social fund-raiser

presented by the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society from 2 to 5

p.m. Sunday at the Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center.

Watson will show photographs taken from 1900 to the present shot

by members of the Watson photojournalistic family. Photographs are of

early Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The center is at 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock.



Symphony in The Glen celebrates its 10th anniversary season of

free classical music concerts beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday in Griffith


Conducting the orchestra is television and film composer Arthur B.


Titled “Dreamcycles,” the concert’s program will feature works by

Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Warlock and a new work by Rubinstein. The

pre-concert activity begins at 4:30 p.m. with everyone receiving a

free kazoo to play along with the orchestra.

Future concerts are Aug. 10 and Sept. 7.

The concerts are in the Old Zoo picnic area near the

merry-go-round at 4800 Crystal Springs Drive. Free parking is

available. For more information, call (213) 955-6976.


Members of Glendale Beautiful are sponsoring an open house with

free tours from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Casa Adobe de San Rafael, 1330

Dorothy Drive, Glendale.

Glendale Beautiful members maintain the state historic landmark,

which was built in 1870 for Tomas Sanchez, the first sheriff of L.A.

County. The adobe contains period furnishings and historic artifacts

and photographs.

The Casa Adobe also will be open July 20 and 27. For more

information, call 246-3634.


Big-band vocalist Jennifer Gates will perform from 6:30 to 9

tonight at Penelope’s Cafe Book and Gallery, 1029 Foothill Blvd., La

Canada Flintridge.

Gates’ talent began to blossom in junior high school, where she

sang in the chorus.

For more information, call 790-4386.



The Nairobi Trio, actually a six-piece group, is this week’s

featured act in the Under the Oaks Concert Series at 2 p.m. Sunday at

Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge.

This trio is noted for straight-ahead jazz, alternating with hard

bop classics from the 1950s and 1960s.

The season will include other American music genres like folk,

zydeco, Native American, Hawaiian and bluegrass. These are styles

from which much of America’s musical heritage has grown. The series

is free with gardens’ admission. Under the Oaks Theater seating is on

a first-come-first-served basis.

Descanso Gardens is at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Parking is free. Admission fees

are $5; $3 for seniors and students; $1 for children 5 to 12, and

free for members and children 5 and younger. For more information,

call 949-4200.




The romantic musical “The Music Man,” by Meredith Willson, closes

today at Glendale Centre Theatre.

Real-life husband and wife, Bill Lewis and Charlotte Carpenter of

Burbank, are in the lead roles. Lewis is also directing the play

about a fast-talking, fly-by-night salesman who falls in love with

River City’s no-nonsense librarian.

Tickets range from $14 to $17. For reservations, call 244-8481.

Glendale Centre Theatre is at 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. The next

production is Alan Ayckbourn’s “Tons of Money” opening Wednesday. It

is directed by Burbank resident George Strattan.

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

JOYCE RUDOLPH at 637-3241 or e-mail or fax

them to 241-1975.