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Theater Reviews

‘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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Fortune Theatre presents ‘Liaisons’

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

As readers may know, British playwright Christopher Hampton is renowned for his translations of classic literature for the stage. A case in point is his 1985 translation of Pierre de Laclos’ 1782 epistolary novel, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons),” which is being produced in splendid style by New Fortune Theatre at the Lyceum Space through Jan. 28.

The most astonishing thing about New Fortune’s production, directed by Artistic Director Richard Baird and Kaitlin O’Neal, is its utter lack of mannerism: it is played without affectation in the vital modern English vernacular provided by Hampton.

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Playhouse’s unusual new musical

Posted: November 11th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

La Jolla Playhouse on Nov. 6 opened the world premiere of a musical titled “Miss You Like Hell,” which is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, unless you’ve seen the work of and are a fan of plays and musicals by bookwriter/lyricist Quiara Alegría Hudes — among them ”Water by the Spoonful” (Pulitzer Prize for drama), “Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue” and “In the Heights” (Tony Award for best musical).

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Pulitzer Prize winner ‘Disgraced’ does not disappoint

Posted: October 28th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Around the time Ayad Akhtar’s “The Who & the What” received its premiere at La Jolla Playhouse, it was announced that his earlier play, “Disgraced” would receive the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

This season, the Playhouse premiered Akhtar’s latest play, “Junk: the History of Debt,” and now, at last, San Diegans have the opportunity to see “Disgraced” in a fine, hard-hitting production that opened Oct. 26 at San Diego Repertory Theatre.

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