The Valley Line

The Chinese New Year has plodded in on big hooves because it is the year of the Earth Ox. The soothsayers proclaim that the Chinese sign of the Ox evokes stability and dependability. The Ox is a practical work animal, while the Earth element is steady and firm. Together, they create a kind of slow and deliberate energy that can be exasperating. Still, progress will be made in the Year of the Earth Ox; it will occur in slow, barely perceptible increments. If you stay patient and keep your nose to the grindstone, you will make the most of this ponderous energy.

I have been told that patience is an admirable quality. It sounds like this is the year to practice this venerable virtue. Hmmm, it is going to be a tough go for me since patience is not my strong suit.

Happy Earth Ox Year to all of you — may your patience bring you many joys and rewards.

Although it was a stormy, rainy night, more than 400 people attended the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) “Empty House” Party last Friday night.

This historical Italian Renaissance Revival in San Marino, known as the Stimson House, will have received its facelift and will be gloriously beautiful for its opening to the public on April 19.

The Empty House party is a preview of what is to come. All the interior and exterior designers who will perform their magic were there to show off their visions on story boards.

Greeting guests on the front steps of this grand mansion was Marti Farley, this year’s benefit chairman. She had a Mona Lisa-like smile because she already knows how spectacular this house is going to be when every inch of this more than 10,000 square-foot mansion will showcase the newest trends in design.

Also saying hello to arriving guests was Joy Sullivan, president of PSHA. Joy was benefit chair when PSHA presented the Boddy House in Descanso Gardens as its Showcase House of Design two years ago.

Party-goers nibbled on delectable food prepared by Pasadena’s “The Spot,” sipped beverages to warm them, and talked with the designers.

Be sure and mark your calendars for what promises to be another outstanding Showcase House of Design.

The house will be open for tours April 19 through May 17.

Some of the LCF residents who were in attendance at this party included Kathryn and Charlie Hofgaarden, Jennifer and Greg Johnson, Delise and Tom Menik, Beverly and Paul Toffel, Jan and Craig Tompkins, Lisa Lipman, Jenine Baines, Erin Dundee, Nancy MacLean with Ron Ross, Vicki and Kerry McCluggage, Susan Jackson, and Martha and Bob Brumfield.

More valley residents who are members of PSHA are Brigett Guitron, Lynn Mehl, Sheri Ramage, Mike Hipolito, and Barbara Arnold.

While you have your pen out marking your calendar, you might add a great theater experience — “Pippin” at the newly renovated Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center complex in downtown L.A.

Last Sunday evening, this well-loved musical opened to an enthusiastic audience. The show is jointly presented by the Center Theatre Group and the Deaf West Theatre. This production runs through March 15.

The high energy staging of this show, that first opened on Broadway in 1972, is one you just don’t want to end.

The new wrinkle in this production is that it is signed for the deaf and hearing impaired. Most notable were the two actors who jointly played the role of Pippin, one non-hearing (Tyrone Giordano) who only signed and the other (Michael Arden) who does hear and has a remarkable singing voice. The communication between these two actors was often poignant for the audience to observe.

Out front and center was the dynamic Ty Taylor in the role of Leading Player, who invites the audience to join him in this story about a boy prince searching for fulfillment. He is the ultimate flim-flam man dressed in devilish red clothes and has a “knock-your-socks-off” voice — throw in some fancy footwork too and you have a WOW.

As I entered the theater, the camera flashes were blinding as the photogs got photos of two of the original Broadway cast members — Ben Vereen, who played the part of Lead Player and John Rubinstein, who was the original Pippin.

I just have to include a little footnote here. Even though I did not attend the production, I hear that St. Francis High School here in LCF just completed a very successful production of “Pippin.”

JANE NAPIER NEELY has been covering the La Cañada social scene for over 26 years. She can be reached at

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