You have to appreciate Charles Phoenix.  At his recent show at the Red Cat, the avant garde back part of Disney Hall where you never really know what’s in store every time you find yourself there, he proves that childhood is something you never want to give up.

Here is a man who finds eternal pleasure in the things all of us gave up on long ago and can only look back with nostalgia.  Not Charles.

Over the years, has amassed an amazing collection of film slides going back, for the most part to the 50’s and into the 60’s of vacation spots throughout the country.  He presents his show to us with such childlike enthusiasm that you have to find yourself intrigued in spite of the fact that the slides themselves are pretty static and uninvolving.  He is actually selling himself with his quips and his enthusiasm for what he offers us.

He comes into the room wearing his Mickey Mouse beanie and somewhat ill fitting attire which he unabashedly proclaims he got from a thrift store.  In fact, his whole presentation feels like it was generated from found objects which he gleefully picked up as if they were pure gold.  The law of serendipity certainly applies here.

Initially he presents a capsule look at another facet of his other show.  We are shown a film clip of the tour which he periodically conducts in downtownLos Angeles, pointing out aspects of the city which he feels has a very definite affinity toDisneyland.  In fact, everything he presents has to do withDisneyland, or for that matter, anything that Walt Disney ever had anything to do with.  All the slides are ofDisneylandmany years ago, many of them when the theme park first opened in the middle 50’s.

Phoenixoriginally worked in the interior design field some years ago but upon a visit to a nearby thrift store in which he purchased a large collection of vintage film slides, his whole way of thinking under went a total change.  Realizing his obsession with all this and his reaction to it, made it apparent that this was something he had to share with the public.  From a start of entertaining his friends with his finds, he has now made it his way of life and conducts his unique brand of entertainment on a much larger scale.  Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd at the Red Cat, it is apparent that he has made a wise choice.

On this occasion, there was a bonus visit to the show by Richard Sherman, who, with his brother Robert, composed many of the scores of the Disney films of the late 50’s and early sixties.  He entertained the audience with a piano arrangement of his song Small Small World, which has been played throughout the world for many years.

After witnessing all this, you have to ask yourself the question:  ‘Who wants to grow up?’


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