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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Bourne’s ‘Cinderella’ has audience dancing in the aisles

Sir Matthew Bourne’s ballet “Cinderella” at the Ahmanson Theatre is an amazing production. Set in London during the WWII blitz, it is a gripping and dramatic tale that is so nontraditional with its black-and-white newsreels of the war action, London ablaze, and costumes of the time period. This is not your run-of-mill Cinderella, to be sure. It’s not your usual fairy godmother either, for that matter.

The curtain call the night I saw it (Feb. 6), was so darn much fun! Glen Miller’s song, “Pennsylvania 6-5000” was played and all the dancers were doing they own version of swing dance steps. Yes, of course the audience was shouting out the name of the song too and dancing in the aisles.

Sitting right behind me was my La Cañada Flintridge neighbor Howard Green. Not only did I get to catch up on hometown news, but Howard introduced me to his dear friends, Richard and Elizabeth Sherman and Tony Baxter.

If Richard Sherman’s name doesn’t ring a bell then perhaps “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous” might, because Richard and his late brother, Robert, wrote it and many other familiar songs for Disney’s 1964 film “Mary Poppins.”


Baxter recently retired after 47 years with Disney, having gotten his start scooping ice cream at Disneyland while he was a teenager. He is a former senior vice president of creative development for its Imagineering division.

Bourne worked with Richard Sherman when he co-choreographed the stage production of “Mary Poppins.” They became very good friends so it was a delight for Richard and Elizabeth to share this opening night with their longtime friend.


What about all that rain? Yep, it just kept on raining, and I was beginning to think that I needed to build an ark. Then, my dining room ceiling came crashing down — at least part of it did!


Oh my goodness, what a shock. It was about 9:30 on the night of Feb. 2, and I was in my office at the back of my home when it happened. I heard this huge crash coming from the front of the house. It scared the heck out of me. When I ran to take a look, I discovered a huge chunk of the ceiling had fallen to the floor. Since this is an old house, circa 1922, the coved ceiling was constructed of plaster over wood lath. The lath was exposed and water was coming in.

A neighbor helped me retrieve a tarp I had in the garage to put over the floor and all the furniture so further interior damage couldn’t occur. The next step was getting somebody out to put a tarp on the roof.

As I am writing this days later, the tarp is still on the roof because more rain is expected and the roofer seems to be overbooked! I’m OK for now and the roofer will be coming soon, thank goodness.

I hope that all of you fared OK during the storm.


Just before the rains came, Hillsides, a foster care and child welfare charity, on Jan. 29 held a reception for the sponsors of its upcoming gala, “Heart of Brazil” which will be held Feb. 23.

It was a fun evening, with nearly 75 guests gathering at the Gauchos Village restaurant in Glendale to share their excitement about the gala.

In keeping with the South American gala theme, Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha was served. It’s a very different cocktail using liquor called cachaça, which is made from sugar cane. Muddle the cachaça with lime, add some sugar and there you have it, a unique taste of Brazil. It’s one of my favorite summertime drinks.


The event was hosted by Kevin Aksacki, owner and chef of the restaurant, who also prepared wonderful Brazilian appetizers to sample.

All the focus is now on the Feb. 23 gala to be held at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Chairing the gala are three longtime supporters of Hillsides, Edison Barbosa, Bill Eichler and Pamela Mahon.

Joe Costa, Hillsides president and chief executive, was there to meet and greet and to thank the gala sponsors. The gala committee includes Holly Breckheimer, Donna Ford, Armida Baylon-Stelzer, Katie Bolton, Kelly Chamberlain, Donna De Mond, Shelly and Mario Fiumani, John Gong, Gina Guerra, Ava Herrera, Stacey Hoppe, Ana Maarse, Susan Noe, Susan Pinsky, Courtney Saavedra, Sara J. Simpson, Maureen Staley, Chelisa Vagim, Uyen-Uyen Vo and Kim Welcba.

Gala sponsors include the Donald Zonshine Family Foundation, Willis Towers Watson, Pin USA, Mario and Shelly Fiumani, Sherm and Marge Telleen, the Walt Disney Co., Don and Sally Clark, Jacob Maarse Florists, Kaiser Permanente, Paul Rusnak-Rusnak Auto Group, Rob and Kim Shepherd, Western Asset Management, Bank of the West, Joseph M. Costa, Covington Capital Management, Jesse and Sommer Cripps, Gibson Dunn, Goehner Accountancy, John Gong, Wendy Lees and Tom Boyle, Patty McAllister, Susan and Bill Noce, PBWS Architects, Joe Regan-RBC Wealth Management, David and Barbara Scheper and Bishop John Taylor and Kathy O’Connor.

Hillsides with its affiliate Bienvenidos focuses on healing children and young adults, strengthening families, and transforming communities through comprehensive services and advocacy. The agency serves nearly 17,000 children and families in Southern California.

Jane Napier Neely covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.