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The Door You Never Saw Before presented by Geffen Playhouse May 14-June 27th

A CHOOSICAL MUSICAL

  • By ARLENE WINNICK

During the past year, The Geffen Stayhouse has produced a creative series of sold out interactive experiences that audiences have thoroughly enjoyed.  This month their focus is on young audiences (ages 6-9) with “The Door You Never Saw Before: A Choosical Musical.”  This one-of-a kind Zoom-platform show allows children to plot their own adventures as they enter a magical door and try to save a faraway city from an evil villain known as “The Stench.”

How it Works:  Each “The Door You Never Saw Before” ticket allows an entire household to participate even though the child (or children) is technically in charge of the action.  Each child is shipped in advance a suitcases filled with puzzles and special items to help them interact with the onscreen action, music and characters.   (One suitcase is included in the ticket price but additional ones can be ordered). An added bonus – Grandparents (that’s me) and other family/friends can also Zoom in and watch the show from anywhere “alongside” their favorite youngsters with a discounted viewing-only ticket. “Matt Schatz (book, music, lyrics) and Katie Lindsay (director) have created an amazingly fun, entertaining and unique experience for kids that feeds their imagination and takes them on a great adventure during a time when they need it more than ever,” said Geffen Playhouse Artistic Director Matt Shakman. This choosical musical journey is a don’t miss family experience!

For all the details, click here.

The Serpent now on Netflix (Starring Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman)

The Serpent

  • By Sasha Gary
  • Photo Courtesy of Netflix

The Serpent on Netflix is an eight-part BBC-commissioned miniseries that tells the chilling true story of Hotchand Bhawnani Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer, fraudster, and thief who preyed on Western tourists throughout the hippie trail of South Asia during the 1970s. He was handsome, charming, and utterly without scruples. He committed his first known murder in 1975 and eventually became known as The Bikini Killer, The Splitting Killer, and of course, The Serpent. Born in 1944 to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj committed petty crimes as a teenager and served his first jail term in France in 1963. On the run, he posed as a gem salesman or drug dealer to impress and befriend tourists who he then robbed and killed. He was joined by a young Indian man, Ajay Chowdhury, and together they stole their victims’ passports and traveled to Thailand, Nepal, India, Malaysia, France, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Greece, wreaking murderous havoc all along the way. Sobhraj was in and out of prison from 1976 onward. Today, he remains in a Nepalese jail in extremely poor health.

The amazing cast stars Tahar Rahim as Sobhraj and features Jenna Coleman, Billy Howle, Ellie Bamber, and Amesh Edireweera, among others. Gritty cinematography, beautiful locations, and stylish clothing from the late 70s put you right in the action. This wild story will surely make you think twice about who you befriend on your next holiday!

Now on Netflix, click here.

Cruel Summer now on Freeform/Hulu (Starring Olivia Holt)

CRUEL SUMMER

  • By Paige Petrone
  • Photo Courtesy of FREEFORM/HULU

Summers in the 90s are only too memorable for me – showing my age here – and Cruel Summer (on Freeform to Hulu) really brought me back to those times. The show is set strangely and yet told very cleverly over three years – 1993, ‘94, and ’95, all leading up to the Fourth of July. Think Mean Girls and you will get an idea of the feel of Cruel Summer. It’s filled with accusations, revenge, and envy, and is super dark and twisty for a tween series. The story is the usual … sleepy town heats up after an abduction … nerdy girl wants to be cool and does something wrong … she lives with the consequences. Then of course there is high school peer pressure and young love, and so on, but what is the most fun about this series is all the over the top (very well done) 90s nostalgia. No cell phones and no internet – it’s interesting to be reminded how old-fashioned rumors were told … by talking, not posting! The fashion and styles are over the top and on point. Oh, and there is a Walkman! I loved mine.

Cruel Summer is produced by Jessica Biel (The Sinner), and stars Olivia Holt (Kickin’ It), Chiara Aurelia (Tell Me Your Secrets), Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood), and Allius Barnes (pen15).

Now on Hulu, click here.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 now on Hulu (Starring Elizabeth Moss)

The Handmaid’s Tale

  • By Nina Sventitsky
  • Photo Courtesy of Hulu

If there is anything recent events have taught us as a country, it is not to be complacent about democracy and that there is no such thing as testing the waters of authoritarianism. The Handmaid’s Tale was written in the 1980’s and at the time seemed so far off the reality mark that it could be read as entertainment. Now the horrors of a conservatively constructed society seem shockingly close.

Season 1 of this series followed the plot lines of the original book by Colleen Atwood. Seasons 2-4 were originally written for the screen. Season 1 introduced us to Gilead, what America became after takeover by an extreme religious sect. We meet June, forced into fertility servitude as a Handmaid, as she bravely navigates this new world. Season 2 involves dreams of Canada, which has taken most of Gilead’s refugees. June makes uneasy allies, and we see the start of June as a resistance heroine. Season 3 sees June building her power and hardening herself to the ‘collateral damage’ of the fight. She has a vision of her purpose, which is to save all of the children of Gilead, a version of the Kindertransport of WWII. Season 4, promises cliffhangers and extreme heroism as June begins to fulfill her purpose. I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale for anyone, from teens onward. Excellent story, acting and timeliness.

Now on Hulu, click here.