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Theater Reviews

A hand-clappin’ hootenanny

Posted: November 10th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Theater Reviews | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison “God scratches where the world itches,” says nervous Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe (Brian Mackey) of North Carolina’s Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. That’s by way of a vamp, since the stars of the church’s first-ever Saturday night sing-a-log are late. Unfortunately, vamping isn’t the good pastor’s long suit, so he spends considerable energy looking out the window, hoping to see the Sanders family.

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A ‘Legend’ grows

Posted: October 27th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

An accidental drag queen’s transformation provides needed respite from current events

If Elvis can’t save the day, how about a drag queen or two? In Matthew Lopez’s sprightly “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” a man saves everything by discovering his inner woman. The play is at Cygnet Theatre through Nov. 12.

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‘Absolute Brightness’ of being true to yourself

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

For my money, there’s no better theater than a single good storyteller. The Old Globe has found a splendid one in James Lecesne, now performing at the Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre through Oct. 29 with his one-man show “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.”

Don’t let that gobstopper of a title keep you from this terrific one-act show, which is based on Lecesne’s 2008 young-adult novel “Absolute Brightness.”

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Run to see ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Owning a flower shop on Skid Row is probably not high on anyone’s list of get-rich-quick schemes, and Mr. Mushnik, after enough years of near-starvation, is announcing the closure of his Skid Row Florists.

But Mushnik’s two employees have another idea. Nerdy clerk Seymour and pretty salesgirl Audrey suggest that putting a new, interesting plant in the front window might bring in potential customers. And it so happens that amateur botanist Seymour picked up a most intriguing variation of a Venus flytrap during a solar eclipse. He’s named it Audrey II.

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‘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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