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An active April

We have had a wild weather ride this April, and hopefully it will be going out like a lamb. I know that this particular proverb of coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb usually refers to March, but it has been very fitting for us this month.

It seems that weather rhymes have been around for a very long time. The rhyme about April showers bringing May flowers is attributed to a British gentleman named Thomas Tusser, who put together a collection of weather sayings in 1557 that he called "A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry." However, he was a bit more poetic about it — to be exact he wrote: "Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers."

On my desk I have a lovely bouquet of white and purple lilacs. Their sweet fragrance is quite divine. Guess that means I need to get myself over to Descanso Gardens and its lilac orchard and be totally surrounded by the heady scent.

This past week has been a particularly exciting theater journey. Last Wednesday night I went to the opening of "Chicago" at the Pantages Theatre.

The razzle-dazzle was in full swing at this historic Art Deco theater, built in about the same time period that the musical portrays. Needless to say, there was never a dull moment between the songs and dance productions of "All That Jazz" and "Hot Honey Rag."

The entire production is fabulous; the dancing and singing are superb.

The real show stopper is the part of the society reporter Mary Sunshine. In this production Mary is played by R. Lowe. The audience is not aware that the part is played by a man until the second act, after a line to the effect of, "Things are not always what they appear to be," when his wig and dress are pulled off. You should have heard the collective gasp from the audience — it resonated off the walls of this gilded, opulent theater.

"Chicago" is a great production. Try to go see it. It runs until May 9.

This weekend I went with a friend to see A Noise Within's production of "Awake and Sing!" The play was written by Clifford Odets and directed by Andrew J. Traisters.

Set in the Bronx (where Odets grew up) during 1935, there was much dialogue about the Great Depression that rings true today. The struggles that this working-class Jewish family experiences with three generations living together are sometimes amusing and more often poignant.

Any day now will be the groundbreaking for A Noise Within's new facility in Pasadena. Their capital campaign has been ongoing. Even though $10 million has been raised, they need to raise $3 million more to be up and running. The new Pasadena site accommodates a 35,000-square-foot facility, providing the company plenty of opportunity for audience growth as well as a fully realized education program.

This past weekend a great party called "Sunset Safari" was hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn.

Meeting and greeting Safari Club donors and friends were La Cañada resident Connie Morgan, president of the association, and John Lewis, an area resident and L.A. Zoo director. Their respective spouses, Matt Golombek and Debbie Lewis, were also at the party.

This popular Safari Club event is a favorite for families. Everyone climbed aboard the trams and were whisked off to the upper regions of the zoo where they could enjoy an after-hours evening of dinner, music and animal viewings.

It was quite exciting to have an opportunity to see many of the animals awake and active.

I enjoyed seeing a female snow leopard and her two cubs. The cubs, like all kids, led their mom on a merry chase as they leaped over rocks, threw a ball around and even had a lesson in proper deportment by Mom.

They are such beautiful animals — it's sad that they are on the endangered list.

Other animals we watched were two recently acquired Brazilian giant otters that are huge — not at all like the river and sea otters we are used to seeing.

Animal and reptile keepers wandered about the quiet paths of the zoo in order to introduce us to some smaller creatures. I met and pet a couple of snakes and marveled at the beauty of a falcon. Of course the keepers told us all about their "charges," which was very informative.

Other animals on view that evening were maned wolves, mountain tapirs, white-faced saki, golden lion tamarins, tigers, a huge hippo, an Indian rhino and black bears.

Children seemed thrilled to meet some of the exotic animals. For many, it was the first opportunity to be introduced to an uncommon lizard or snake.

Guests were later treated to a fabulous dinner, and the most popular food venue was the mashed potato bar, where you could build your own spud cocktail with delectable tidbits like shrimp, mushrooms, bacon bits, cheese, chives and sour cream — whatever suited your fancy.

When not eating, the younger set swung from monkey bars and slid down slides while their parents kept a close eye on their activities.

The Safari Club, which is the zoo association's premier annual giving society, supports the zoo at the highest levels. The association has 65,000 member households, the second-largest membership base of a cultural organization in Los Angeles. Many of its nearly 300,000 individual members have sustained their support for more than 20 years.

Those are pretty impressive numbers — hopefully their membership will keep on growing.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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