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Theater Reviews

‘Spider Woman’ risky but ‘spectacular’

Posted: September 15th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Friendship, love, betrayal and the distressing inhumanity of man all play out in a Latin American prison in the musical version of “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” 

Welk Resorts Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical (based on the book by Manuel Puig, with play book by Terrence McNally) through Oct. 22 at the Escondido location.

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An eclectic ‘Hamlet’

Posted: September 1st, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Elsinore — Hamlet’s castle and home — has never looked as barren as it does at The Old Globe this summer, where the Globe’s artistic director Barry Edelstein is directing “Hamlet” through Sept. 10 on the outdoor Davies Festival Stage.

Maybe there’s a certain logic to that, given that the plot is about murder and revenge (for starters). At any rate, something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and maybe it took a normal “Hamlet” set with it. What’s left is a rolling bed that nearly all the major characters end up on at one time or another and three cheesy-looking (but very high) gold-toned stairways on rollers that can be pushed together so as to make a walkway in the heights — or separated for other uses.

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Defining the family business

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Keep it in the family, they say, but when Sheila (Amanda Quaid) complains that “I just don’t know how much … joy I get from this anymore” and threatens to quit her job as a hired assassin, it not only threatens the family business but also kicks off a fascinating, sometimes horrifying, often funny meditation on the possibility and likelihood of human change.

Mat Smart, a 2004 UC San Diego Playwriting MFA, debuts his new play “Kill Local” through Aug. 27 at La Jolla Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. Jackson Gray directs.

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Innermission impresses with ‘Ordinary Days’  

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Everyone in the world is (or has been) lonely. Composer Adam Gwon’s pop opera “Ordinary Days” introduces us to four people in New York who make connections, which may or may not become permanent.

I know, you’ve seen this a million times before, but Gwon’s little chamber opera charms with fine melodies and often clever lyrics.

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‘Animal Crackers’ is bonkers!

By Jean Lowerisonn | Theater Review

“The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.”  —Irving Berlin

Leave your critical and logical faculties at home when you head for Cygnet Theatre’s wild and woolly staging of the classic goofball Marx Brothers musical, “Animal Crackers.” 

Most people know the 1930 film “Animal Crackers,” a truncated version that cut most of the songs. Now, Cygnet Theatre recreates the era and brings back the brothers in Henry Wishcamper’s stage adaptation of the original 1928 Broadway musical.

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An ‘epic fairy tale’ comes to life

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review PigPen Theatre Company’s “The Old Man and the Old Moon” — playing through June 18 in its West Coast premiere at The Old Globe’s Shiley Theatre — is a devised and epic fairy tale packed into 90 fleeting moments in time. Swept up in visual beauty, wonder and music, the opening night audience on May 18 had a rip-roaring good time and at the journey’s conclusion leapt to its feet […]

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It does bear repeating

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Because it bears repeating and seems like the right time to hear the play again, New Village Arts (NVA) cofounder and Artistic Director Kristianne Kurner programmed Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” as the last production in NVA’s 16th season.

Presented at La Jolla Playhouse in 1997, the autobiographical work was adapted by Emily Mann from the book by Sarah L. (Sadie) and A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany with Amy Hill Hearth.

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Alive in the cosmos

‘Silent Sky’ is the ‘Hidden Figures’ of astronomy By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review On the heels of its magnificent “Shadowlands,” Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado continues its string of extraordinary productions with the San Diego premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky,” an absolutely delectable, mind-expanding examination of the early days of women in astronomy.

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A timorous bit of travel

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review It’s not a long drive to North Coast Repertory Theatre where currently playing is a hilarious, tightly conceived trip around the world titled “Travels With My Aunt.” Aunt Augusta has “brilliant” red hair, according to her nephew, Henry. Audiences hear this description but never really “see” the flamboyant septuagenarian in Graham Greene’s “Travels With My Aunt.”

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A road well traveled

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Playing now through April 23 at San Diego Repertory Theatre is Karen Zacharías’ play, “Into the Beautiful North,” based on the novel by San Diego State grad and literary luminary Luis Alberto Urrea (b. 1955 in Tijuana).

The comedy is set in many places familiar to those who know both sides of the border and features an appealing gay character, Tacho, who runs a taco shop and internet café called La Mano Caída (The Fallen Hand) in Tres Camarones (Three Shrimp), a small village in Sinaloa.

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‘Blameless’: Journeys of grief

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Despite wonderful casting and Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s sensitive direction, the world premiere of Nick Gandiello’s family drama, “The Blameless,” seems somehow under-cooked.

Developed in part in a reading at the Old Globe’s Powers New Voices Festival last year, the piece, which concerns grieving and forgiveness, continues at the White Theatre through March 26.

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North Coast Rep nails Kushner’s ‘Illusion’

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

North Coast Repertory Theatre presents a fine production of Tony Kushner’s “The Illusion” — his thoroughly modern 1988 adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 17th-century work, “L’Illusion Comique” — playing through March 19.

Playwright Kushner went on to write the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning epic, “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia of America,” in 1993.

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The ‘wisdom and hilarity’ of ‘Beau Jest’

By Charlene Baldridge

It’s 1989 Chicago. Miriam and Abe, Sarah Goldman’s parents, are ecstatic. She tells them she’s no longer dating Chris the Gentile (not true) and moreover, she has a nice, new, Jewish boyfriend (not true, either), who’s a surgeon at one of Chicago’s best hospitals.

A successful businesswoman, Sarah’s been on her own for quite some time, and now it appears that Miriam and Abe’s fondest wish for her may come true. They do what all good parents do: They invite themselves to dinner to meet the prospective son-in-law and even take Sarah’s brother, a divorced therapist, with them.

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