Pat Launer on San Diego Theater
By Pat Launer , SDNN
May 13, 2010
THE PLAY: “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune ,” a touching comedy, at ion theatre
Midlife love. It’s frightening, elusive, unlikely . And yet, sometimes, on a moonlit night, life can take an unexpected turn.
That’s what happens to Frankie and Johnny, two blue-collar New Yorkers trapped in dead-end jobs, having been battered and bruised by a life that didn’t exactly play out their childhood hopes and dreams. She wanted to be an actor, and thinks about becoming a teacher. But she never graduated high school, and she’s been a waitress for years. He grew up in foster homes, had an alcohol problem, spent some time in jail – and in college. But now he’s a short-order cook. They’ve been watching each other at the greasy spoon where they work. Tentatively, they agreed to a first date: a little dinner, a movie, and on returning to her cramped Hell’s Kitchen apartment, a surprisingly exhilarating roll in the hay.
To her, that’s it. A pleasant one-night stand. She’s too old, too jaded, too cynical to entertain anything further. She’s been hurt (literally) by men before. But this guy is relentless. “I’m tryin ’ to improve my life,” says Johnny. “I’m runnin ’ out of time…. We gotta connect, or we die.”
Frankie thinks he’s weird, too intense (“you don’t look; you stare”), too needy, too personal, too intimate. He talks too much. Johnny affably agrees that he loves the sound of his own voice, that he’s “nervy and persistent.” But he’s also passionate and loving, and willing to show his warts and cop to his weaknesses and say things most women would die to hear. If only she could believe them. “This isn’t small talk,” Johnny protests. “It’s enormous talk.”
And so he keeps nattering, gradually chipping away at the defensive wall she’s built around her. “Everyone has armor,” she says, “or we wouldn’t be alive.” And slowly, over the course of an evening, as Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” plays on the radio (“the most beautiful music in the world”), she loosens up her armor, and acknowledges that they have a lot in common, that they’ve both known despair, self-loathing and loneliness. And maybe it’s worth taking one more chance at happiness. They’re only in their 40s. It’s not too late.
That’s what makes Terrence McNally’s 1987 play so poignant and irresistible. What they say is smart and insightful. Plus, they’re very funny. And they’re in excellent hands with two terrific actors: DeAnna Driscoll and Jeffrey Jones, under the skillful direction of Claudio Raygoza . Driscoll’s got the flip, defensive sarcasm and exasperation. Jones has the brash, edgy, hyperverbal attitude. Both play an interior core that’s wounded and damaged but still, cautiously hopeful. They make the perfectly-timed, fast-paced give-and-take feel genuine and spontaneous. Jones has often been cast as intense, introverted, menacing weirdos . It’s a delight to see him in this expansive, joyful role. They’re delectable together; the chemistry is sizzling and steamy.
Glenn Paris ’ scenic design is spot-on: brick walls, a working stove and toaster, a light-up fridge and all the mess of a single person’s tiny tenement walk-up. The lighting (Raygoza) is just right, especially the itty-bitty window that lets in the moonlight and the rising dawn. The sound design (much of it designated by McNally) runs the gamut from Springsteen to Wagner to Bach. It’s an ideal spot to fall in love.
THE LOCATION: ion theatre’s BLK BOX3704 6th Ave., Hillcrest. (619) 600-5020; www.theoldglobe.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $10-$25. Sunday-Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Sun day at 4 p.m., through June 1
Bottom Line: BEST BET
NOTE: In this springtime of smart comedies, “Frankie and Johnny” inaugurates ion’s Off the Radar series, playing in repertory with “All in the Timing” (Thurs-Sat. at 8 p.m and Sundays at 4, through 5/29) and “GAM3RS” (Friday-Saturday at 10:30 p.m., through 6/5).
THE PLAY: “ Moscow ,” a musical fantasy, at Diversionary Theatre
Chekhov meets Sartre and Sondheim in Purgatory (while Beckett and ‘The Boys in the Band’ look on). These are the unlikely (uncomfortable) bedfellows in “ Moscow ,” a 1998 musical with book and lyrics by Nick Salamone and music by Maury R. McIntyre. It started out in L.A. and went on to be the darling of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and it’s had productions in New York , D.C. and Chicago . Some call it absurdist. Not here, though the whole concept is kind of absurd. Mostly, though, it’s irritating.
Three gay men find themselves trapped in a theater, with ‘no exit.’ They don’t know if they’re dead or alive. We don’t ever find out (and by the end, we don’t really care). The only props they have are a sockball and a copy of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” – in Russian (one of them, conveniently, is able to create a translation). When they tire of the ball game, they act out the play, pulling shmattas out of a trunk, to use as skirts or headscarves. As each ‘becomes’ one of the sisters, we are made to realize the commonalities and universalities.
The jaded, old queen, Jon (John Whitley), who serves as the authoritarian director, is “dried-up, fusty, disapproving Olga,” the oldest sister resigned to her spinsterish fate and the realization that she’ll never get to Moscow . Luke (Kevin Koppman-Gue), a leather-clad young hustler from Mobile , very reluctantly assumes the role of the restless Irina; both, apparently suffer from ADD. And between them, running interference as middle-sister Masha , is the virginal Matt (Angelo D’Agostino ), who pines for Jon as he rebuffs Luke’s advances. The central trinity/love triangle, you might have noticed, is named Matthew, Luke and Jon. There are so many conflicting symbologies here, trying to figure it all out is headache-inducing.
All their existential trials and tribulations, expressed in myriad gay cultural references (Fire Island, Eve Harrington), are played out in song, in an annoyingly atonal, repetitive score that’s trying desperately to sound like Sondheim, fraught with self-conscious attempts at Sondheim-clever lyrics. The objective is rarely achieved; the grasping libretto sounds like a rhyming dictionary was put to overtime use, and once an unpredictable pair of words was identified, a Herculean effort was made to twist them into some sense of sense. Cases in point: “Let me run my cheek across your stubble… keep me from breaking like a flimsy bubble.” Or “When one reads a fiction, it all seems formulaic/But life’s a strange addiction and never that prosaic.”
The entire effort is precious and pretentious, derivative without being imaginative, clichéd and maddeningly self-congratulatory. Director Ira Spector, an MFA musical theater candidate at SDSU, plays it straight (so to speak), with no sense of irony or absurdity. The performances are strong. Koppman-Gue gets more skilled and self-assured with every role, and his voice is in excellent form. He’s especially powerful in the love song, “Touch.” D’Agostino is an appealing performer, who sings and moves well. But his role is unequivocally written for an African American; the backstory is all Detroit and Diana Ross. Matt even gets a bluesy/black showstopper. This casting choice, though effectively played, really doesn’t work within the framework of the piece, but he does an especially persuasive job with “So Long, Matt.” As Jon, Whitley isn’t as bitchy or flamboyant as the role might suggest, but he’s dramatically forceful, somewhat less solid vocally. His wistful memory song, “Behind Me,” about his youth and the friends and lovers he’s lost to AIDS, is potent.
The instrumental trio is outstanding: musical direction/piano by Patrick Marion, with marvelous flute ( Rik Ogden ) and violin (Anna Brown) accompaniment.
Some familiarity with “The Three Sisters” is useful but not mandatory; a helpful super-speed recap of the plot forms the first musical number (“Cliff Notes”). But sitting through this show forces the observer to consider one of the seminal, underlying questions of Chekhov’s play: What are we willing to settle for in life? ( or in theater).
THE LOCATION: Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. , Hillcrest. (619) 220-0097; www.diversionary.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $27-$35. Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Monday, 5/17 at 7:30 p.m., through May 30
THE PLAY: “Footloose”
You’ve seen the movie (a few more degrees of Kevin Bacon?). But when was the last time you took in the musical version, live onstage? Well, the Welk Resorts Theatre is here to fill that gap in your theatergoing experience. And a high-energy effort it is.
The 1984 musical film was converted into a Tony- nominated Broadway musical in 1998, and it hews fairly close to the original. The music is by Tim Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford , with additional music/lyrics by Kenny Loggins (who wrote the title tune), Sammy Hagar, Jim Steinman and Eric Carmen. Many of the show’s songs had an impressive pop afterlife, including “Footloose,” “Let’s Hear it For the Boy,” and “Holding Out for a Hero.”
The plot tells the story of good-hearted and lonely (and sometimes smart-mouthed) Big City boy, Ren McCormack (Luke Yellin ), and his mother Ethel (Eileen Bowman), who move from Chicago to a small Midwestern town when their father/husband abandons the family. In Beaumont (inexplicably spelled Bomont in this production), dancing within the city limits is forbidden by an ordinance instigated by Rev. Shaw Moore (Gary Lee Reed) after four high schoolers were killed in a car crash coming home from a dance years ago – and one of those teens was Moore’s son. The Reverend’s free-spirited daughter, Ariel ( Shanon Marie Mills) hangs with the tough-guy, Chuck Cranston (Joey Elrose ), and is backed by her sidekicks, the leader of whom is Rusty (Shanna Marie Palmer), covertly drawn to the tongue-tied, downhome nice-guy, Willard Hewitt (Allen Everman ). Ariel is attracted to Ren , and they get together (which causes Cranston to take revenge). Buoyed by Ariel’s attention, and with her help, Ren overcomes his grief over the loss of his father, and is emboldened to challenge the Reverend and the City Council, demanding that the law be rescinded, and strongly suggesting that everyone move on with their lives (as he’s trying to do). After much soul-searching, Rev. Moore sees the light and agrees that “Dancing is Not a Crime.”
But you probably knew all that. What you might not know is that the story is based in fact. In 1979, in the small town of Elmore City, Oklahoma (pop. 775 in the 2000 census), the graduating high schoolers wanted to stage a senior prom, but dancing had been outlawed within the town limits for more than 100 years. There was even a local minister who declared dancing ‘the tool of the Devil.’
The delightful Welk Theatre production is directed and choreographed by L.A.-based Dan Mojica , who, for eight years, served as associate director/associate choreographer for the original production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” The singing, dancing and acting of the 17-member cast are vibrant and robust; Yellin , Mills and Palmer stand out as exceptional triple-threats. The sets (designed by that wiz, Mike Buckley) change readily and are moved rapidly between scenes. The costumes ( Sharell Martin) are colorful and more timeless than period-specific. The sound (Patrick Hoyny ) and lighting (Jennifer Edwards- Northover ) provide powerful support, as do the musicians (Andy Ingersoll on keyboard, Vince Cooper on guitar and Mike Masessa on drums, under the musical direction of Justin Gray), who generate a far more mighty sound than those three instruments would suggest.
So, “lose your blues”… and cut footloose.
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $44-$47 ($63-$68 for show plus meal). Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday at 1 p.m., through June 5
Bottom Line: BEST BET
ARTS IN ACTION
… “Luscious Noise” – I figured the best way to treat and entertain my mother on Mom’s Day was with some luscious classical music – and I was right. Luscious Noise is the new “multi-media experience” that strives to make classical music more accessible, affordable and enjoyable for the general public. Under the direction and baton of John Stubbs, the group began in November 2009, and has been performing bi-monthly at Anthology supper club ever since. Each presentation has a theme, and the music is chosen to embrace that idea. November was Love; January, Night Music & Vienna ; and for May, the theme was Spring . So, you can eat, drink, and enjoy the tasty musical fare.
The multi-camera capabilities of the attractive, tri-level venue allow for up-close, projected views of the gifted San Diego Symphony musicians. After each musical selection (perhaps a bit too much on-and-offstage movement), historical videos were shown, including a delightful, glorious-voiced Natalie Dessay singing the soprano solo from ‘Voices of Spring’ from Strauss’ “ Der Fliedermaus .” There was a less impressive segment of Martha Graham dancing “Appalachian Spring” (the choreography seemed surprisingly flat and uninspired). The video excerpts from Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and a documentary on the Ballets Russes were superb. But the segment from the Delius opera, “A Village Romeo & Juliet” seemed out of place. It was meant to coincide with the Delius “Air and Dance” for strings, also one of the less-than-high points of the evening.
Vivaldi’s “Spring” from “The Four Seasons” was delightful, as were Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata” for violin and piano (wonderfully played by Jeffrey Zehngut on violin with Tatiana Roitman at the piano, Tchaivovsky’s waltz from “Serenade,” and the thrilling finale, Mozart’s “ Serenata Notturna ” (Serenade in D). The concertmaster, Jisun Yang, was consistently riveting in her playing.
Though we had some difficulty with slow service, the food was pleasant, the venue, though tightly packed, is friendly and warm, and the playing was marvelous. This is a wonderful way to spend an evening, and to enjoy some of the (brief) highlights of the classical canon, excellently performed. The next presentations by Luscious Noise are July 25 and August 15. Mark your calendar now.
… Arts in Action, UC San Diego . UCSD staged a week-long activist response to the past few months of heinous, racially charged acts aimed at African Americans and Jews. Real Art for Real Change festival included more than 300 students and faculty participating in over 50 arts events, flash-mobs and short performances, all over the campus. One wasn’t so short; one group performed for 24 hours without stopping. The week culminated in a keynote panel discussion, “Ethical Art? The performance of race, class, gender and sexuality on and off the stage. It was moderated by Theater and Dance Ph.D. candidate Jade Power, and comprised artists and arts educators, including Seema Sueko, artistic director of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company; Monique Gaffney , a UCSD alumna, actor and daughter of the late Dr. Floyd Gaffney, one of the founders of the school’s Theater and Dance Department; Ronald McCants, Patté Award-winning playwright, an MFA candidate at the school and others. Chancellor Marianne Fox spoke, as did Theater & Dance chair Allyson Green .
The program opened with a performance by Sandra Foster-King’s West African dance class, and closed with grace shinhae jun’s hip hop dance class. Both groups were large and energetic, if not professional in caliber. While the discussion was going on, Mario Torero and Fernando Vossa were creating a huge mural on the stage. It was exciting and energizing to confront issues such as colorblind casting (no one believes in it), the politics of art (all art is political) and the relevance of recent campus events to the arts. The contributions were lively, even if the presentations did, at times, devolve into arcane academic-speak. The audience was composed mostly of students and faculty; not enough of the general public or arts community was present, but the university hadn’t done a sufficient job of publicizing the Festival. The seemingly spontaneous eruptions of dance and theater around the campus were exhilarating. Now if only they weren’t preaching to the choir. Attendance at all events should have been mandatory for the fraternity that started it all with the offensive, ghetto-themed “Compton Cookout” that mocked Black History Month in February. In the aftermath of the Arts in Action activities, the public is invited to view, upload and interact at ucsdsmashtv.com
NEWS AND VIEWS
… The 17th annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival is all about art and soul. And there’s plenty of drama to be had.
v The Jewish/Mexican American Theatre troupe, Teatro Punto y Coma presents “The Show Across the Street,” a world premiere comedy (in English) with original music, dance and video that’s billed as a sequel to “Fiddler on the Roof.” Developed over the past two years, written and directed by Robert Moutal , “The Show” is based on a story by artistic director Pepe Stepensky . June 2, 3, 4 and 6 in the Lyceum Space in Horton Plaza . Before the performance, at 6:30 p.m. on 6/3, the creators discuss the 20-year history of their theater company, and the making of their latest production.
v Festival director Todd Salovey directs “ Women of Valor 2010 ,” bringing together two talented young performers, Ali Viterbi and Leah Salovey, for a world premiere that highlights the strength and vision of six remarkable San Diego Jewish women. The performance includes poetry, music, images and “a treasure trove of love.” All proceeds will benefit the three Jewish high schools of San Diego . Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m. in the Lyceum Space.
v For a music and dance one-two punch, consider the world premiere, “Malashock Dance with Yale Strom: Chagall.” The world-renowned artist’s life, loves and stunning images are at the heart of this new dance/musical. John Malashock’s evocative choreography melds with the music of Yale Strom, a masterful composer of Eastern European “folk music of the soul.” They’ll showcase three sections of their new collaboration, as well as an encore performance of Strom/ Malashock’s thrilling “Tribes.” The program also features a short concert by Strom and his Hot P’Stromi band. June 10, 12 and 13, in the Lyceum Space. Following the 6/10 performance, Malashock and Strom will discuss Chagall and their new work.
Reservations for all Lyceum events: (619) 544-1000; www.sdrep.org
v North Coast Repertory Theatre will once again be getting into the Festival act, with two Jewish Play Readings.
Ø “The Immigrant,” an autobiographical work by Mark Harelik and Randal Myler , will be presented one night only, starring Harelik himself, a noted stage and screen actor. The uplifting play traces his family’s Jewish roots, in a funny and heartfelt tale of the only Jew in a small Texas town. Post-show discussion with the playwright/actor. Monday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Ø The next night, June 15, NCRT presents “Mandate Memories” by Lionel Goldstein, a stirring portrait of Israel ’s tumultuous founding, set in a small English town. After the British Mandate, a connection is forged between an elderly widower and a middle-aged divorcée. Post-show discussion with the playwright.
Reservations and information for the North Coast Rep performances at (858) 481-1055; www.northcoastrep.org
… Something slightly new, something very new: The La Jolla Playhouse has just announced the final addition to its six-show season: the world premiere of “Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin.” Through song and dance, “comedy and heartbreak,” the musical illustrates how Chaplin rose from the gritty streets of London to become one of the world’s cinematic treasures. The new show will be directed by Michael Unger, with music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis, and book by Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan (who wrote the book for the 2007 Playhouse-to-Broadway production of “Cry-Baby,” as well as “The Producers, “Hairspray” and “Annie”). “Limelight” will run September 7-October 17.
And in other Playhouse news, JOHN LEGUIZAMO IS BACK! The wild, wacky comic, Emmy-winning actor is returning to La Jolla to polish his latest show, in another Page to Stage workshop production, before it goes on tour to Berkeley , Philadelphia and the Montreal Comedy Arts Festival. The explosive, energetic performance piece, “John Leguizamo Diary of a Madman,” chronicles the madman’s life from Queens , New York to Hollywood and beyond. Directed by Fisher Stevens, the show runs May 18-29. www.lajollaplayhouse.org
… A Big Show for Craig: The response to the memorial service for the late, great Craig Noel has been so large that the venue has been changed – from the Old Globe Theatre to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. “Celebrating the Theatrical Legacy of Craig Noel” will be preceded by the naming of the Globe’s lower courtyard the Craig Noel Garden , and will be followed by a reception in the theater’s Copley Plaza . The beloved Noel, founding director of the Old Globe, died on April 3 at age 94. The date and time of the memorial remain as previously announced: Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to all.
… In Residence: Matthew Lopez, the young writer of “The Whipping Man,” a post Civil War drama currently having its West coast premiere at the Old Globe, has been named Globe Playwright in Residence for the next two years. The honor includes a commission for a new play, and participation in the Globe’s education outreach and audience development activities. “Matthew Lopez is an emerging voice in the American theater,” says Old Globe executive producer Lou Spisto. “A fresh perspective and a narrative drive are the hallmarks of his developing talent.” Watch for a review of “The Whipping Man” here next week.
… Still not the A-List: As part of the national tour of the 2008 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “In the Heights,” only Los Angeles will get to see the highly acclaimed creator, triple-threat talent Lin-Manuel Miranda, reprise his Tony-winning performance. He will only appear in the Hollywood segment of the national tour, which comes to the Civic Theatre, courtesy of Broadway San Diego, July 27-Aug. 1. Just before the show comes here, Miranda will perform at the Pantages Theatre in L.A. , June 23-July 11. A film version of the musical is in the works, with Miranda in the lead role (so maybe we’ll get to see him after all). Perhaps he’ll change his mind and visit San Diego . After all, he has some local connection; he was here early last year, when he wrote a few new songs for the updated version of “Working” at the Globe.
… Milk for All: In honor of the first statewide Harvey Milk Day and the May 22nd birthday of the slain activist, who would have turned 80 this year, Diversionary Theatre will be staging readings of “Dear Harvey,” a touching play commissioned by the gay-lesbian theater. In 2009, Diversionary premiered the interview-based celebration of Milk, written by Patricia Loughrey, with music by Thomas Hodges , who won a Patté Award for his work. On May 19, the cast will be from the SDSU School of Theatre, Television and Film, which also presented the show in 2009. Peter Cirino directs. On May 20, the Diversionary Theatre cast will be directed by Dan Kirsch. Both performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets and info (619) 220-0097; www.diversionary.org
…Making a Comeback: Pasadena Playhouse, the State Theater of California established in 1917, is ready to return, reorganized, thanks to a bankruptcy filing. The board and staff are optimistic that the Playhouse will emerge from Chapter 11 and resume the production of theater. Among the high-profile launches from Pasadena are the world premiere of “Sister Act, the Musical” (with the Alliance Theatre), now in its eleventh month in London ’s West End ; the world première of “Ray Charles Live!” (now entitled “Unchain My Heart, the Ray Charles Musical”), scheduled to open on Broadway this November; and the world premiere of “Looped,” starring Valerie Harper, which opened on Broadway two months ago. Here’s hoping the theater is back to business soon.
… Restoring the Luster: What started as a one-day do-good event has blossomed into an ongoing relationship. More than 1100 volunteers from the Rock Church have been burnishing the image of the 64 year-old Starlight Theatre in Balboa Park . So far, they’ve painted and installed 3800+ seats; painted dressing rooms; cleaned up the theater, stage and backstage areas and carted off over 45,000 pound of junk — everything from a Volkswagen engine to old steel props. They’ve sparked up the concession area, rearranged the wardrobe room, and climbed the light towers. All the continuing work will be completed in time for the June 17 opening of Starlight’s summer season, which includes “Suds: The Rocking ‘60s Musical,” “The Pajama Game” and “Hello, Dolly!” Info at www.starlighttheatre.org
… One-half G&S: The Talent to aMuse Theatre Company is presenting “Engaged,” a farce by W.S. Gilbert, one-half of the famed Gilbert and Sullivan operetta partnership. The play, a stage hit in Britain rarely performed in the U.S. , concerns a 19th century English couple that runs afoul of an obscure Scottish law that declares them to be married if they say they are. The comic tangle of jilted lovers, multiple engagements and dubious matrimonial connections will be directed by theater critic Welton Jones, with a cast that includes former theater critic George Weinberg-Harter, who also designed the sets. The show plays for three weekends in June (6/11-27) at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights . Reservations at information at (619) 233-9407.
… Get Shocked: The four distinct companies that comprise the hip hop phenom , Culture Shock, which was created in San Diego by executive director and founder Angie Bunch , will come together to perform. Culture Shock is a professional group that provides dancers with rigorous training and the chance to perform at high-profile events. Its offshoots include Afta Shock, made up of “old-school” dancers age 25 and older, debunking the idea that hip hop is only for the young (though 25 sounds pretty young to me); Future Shock is an apprentice troupe for youth age 17 and under; and Mighty Shock is a hip hop training troupe for dancers age 13 and younger. In the new performance, Shock Showcase, all four groups will dance together for the first time, and then each troupe will tells its own story and show off its version of urban dance. Culture Shock will exhibit snippets from the dance theatrical, “Graffiti Life,” which will be remounted at the JCC in August. Culture Shock’s breaking crew will debut a new work, too. “This is an opportunity for us to educate the community about our programs,” says Bunch, “and visually explain who we are.” May 21 and 22 at the JCC’s Garfield Theatre in La Jolla . Proceeds will benefit the dance troupes. And note that May is Cardio Hip Hop Month at Culture Shock, with free shape-up cardio hip hop classes. Check it all out at www.cultureshockdancecenter.com
… The Bad Boys of Jersey?: Last month, a lawsuit was filed by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio , original members of the Four Seasons, along with Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice , the co-creators of the musical, “Jersey Boys.” It seems that some of the original Broadway performers in the blockbuster musical formed their own production company and have been touring as “The Boys in Concert” or “Broadway’s Jersey Boys.” The lawsuit claims that the group has stolen songs, stage elements and copyrighted logos to make patrons think they’re an “authorized road company” of the long-running, megahit musical about the rise and fall and rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The plaintiffs want the performances stopped, and they’re requesting $150,000 for each of the ten tunes performed in the unauthorized show. They’re also asking for all of the production’s profits, and unspecified damages for unfair competition and copyright infringement. Named in the suit are Drew Gehling , Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard , Matthew Scott and J. Robert Spencer, along with former San Diegan and Junior Theatre alumnus Christian Hoff, who won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance as Jersey Boy Tommy DeVito . “The Boys in Concert” has reportedly been seen in New York , Los Angeles , Chicago and Atlantic City . The show’s website allegedly said that 19 additional performances were scheduled through October, across the country and in Canada . So far, no word from the managers of the offshoot group.
The Reading Corner
… M-Day and D-Day: Write Out Loud, the company that reads literature aloud to live audiences, is presenting a tribute to parents (and their special days) in “The Tie That Binds: Stories of Mothers and Fathers,” just in time for Father’s Day. Monday, June 14 at 7 p.m., Old Town Theatre. Call (619) 297-8953 for reservations.
… Dollar a Dance: Members of the San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre will perform a reading of Joe Powers ’ touching memory play, “Taxi Dance,” about a rundown dance hall in days gone by. Friday May 14, 7:30 p.m. at the Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr. Talkback and reception to follow the 90-minute production. Info at (760) 753-7376; www.etcinfo.net
… Young, Gifted and Black: “Stick Fly,” an acclaimed play by a rising star of the theater, Lydia Diamond, will be presented as a reading by Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company. Set on Martha’s Vineyard, the searing examination of racial fault-lines among the black elite has earned Diamond comparisons to August Wilson . May 25 at 6 p.m. at the 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave. , downtown . Reservations: (619) 342-7395; firstname.lastname@example.org
… Bringin ’ it to the People: The San Diego Actors Theatre will present a staged reading of “Master Harold… and the Boys,” a gut-wrenching apartheid drama by world renowned South African playwright (and part-time Del Mar resident) Athol Fugard . The work is being presented at three uniquely different venues, in cooperation with the Vagabond Theatre, a newly formed company headed by actor/director Antonio “TJ” Johnson. His collaborator on this production is SDAT artistic director Patricia Elmore Costa , who for 25 years has specialized in presenting theater work in site-specific locales. “Master Harold” can be seen June 1 at O’Brien’s Boulangerie & Bakery in Del Mar; June 8 at North Coast Repertory Theatre and June 15 at Sushi Performance & Visual Art downtown. For information and reservations: (858) 268-4494; www.sdactorstheatre.net
PAT’S PICKS: BEST BETS
v “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” – poignant, funny and wonderfully acted
ion theatre, through 6/1
v “Footloose” –footloose and fancy free; high energy, fine singing and dancing
Welk Resorts Theatre, through 6/27
v “Golda’s Balcony” – inspiring story, tour de force performance
The Old Globe Theatre, through 5/30
Read Review here: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2010-05-05/things-to-do/theater-things-to-do/goldas-balcony-plus-more-theater-reviews-news
v “All in the Timing” – smart and hilarious
ion theatre, through, 5/29
v “Gam3rs” – LOL funny
ion theatre, through 6/5
Pat Launer is the SDNN theater critic. She can be reached at email@example.com
To read any of her prior reviews, type ‘Pat Launer,’ and the name of the play of interest, in the SDNN Search box. Or, access her present and past reviews from the Arts & Entertainment pull-down on the SDNN homepage.