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Theater Reviews

Welk presents a holiday classic

Posted: December 8th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Theater Reviews | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” may be the most adapted piece of literature around. A Wikipedia search lists 53 versions.

I’ve seen it countless times, but I’d never seen the 1994 musical version now on the boards at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. This one boasts music by multiple Oscar-winner Alan Menken (Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin”) and lyrics by Fred Ebb (“Cabaret”).

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A feast for the eyes and ears

Posted: November 24th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison

Hold onto your hat — La Jolla Playhouse has a wild ride for you. “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” is both visual feast and musical extravaganza — and a show that could only have been directed by Des McAnuff.

The disco queen of the world’s story is told in a nearly two-hour one-act song and talk fest that is clearly aimed at a Broadway audience. It will be a shock if this show doesn’t end up there.

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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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