By Pat Launer
Time to RISE to the level of glory,
With SUSAN AND GOD and WEST SIDE STORY.
But should your faith be on the Fritz
Immerse yourself in the 14th BLITZ.
THE SHOW: West Side Story , the brilliant 1957, Romeo and Juliet-inspired musical conceived by director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, with a timeless score by Leonard Bernstein, clever lyrics by (then 27 year-old novice) Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents . The 1961 movie won 10 Oscars. Moonlight commemorates and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking show’s Broadway premiere
THE STORY: It’s the Jets vs. the Sharks, two New York street gangs, the Anglos vs. the newly arrived Puerto Ricans. As un-PC as some of the lines and lyrics may seem, that’s how strikingly familiar some of the racial slurs sound, only now they’re not confined to Puerto Ricans, or to New York’s mean streets. Tony, once the leader of the Jets, has been keeping his distance from the group, and he becomes even more committed to peace and coexistence after he meets Maria at a high school dance. He woos her on her balcony (“Tonight,” “Maria”). Then, he tries to keep the gangs from ‘rumbling,’ but in the ensuing fight, he accidentally kills Maria’s brother Bernardo, leader of the Sharks, in retaliation for the death of the Jets’ leader, Riff. The star-crossed lovers never really get a chance; deep-seated rivalry and violence inevitably lead to tragedy.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: It was a sellout audience on Saturday night, the biggest crowd I’d ever seen at Moonlight Amphitheatre… that’s more than 1400 people, sprawled on the hillside behind the jam-packed seats. Not even Beauty and the Beast packed ‘ em in like that. This is mostly an L.A. and New York cast, though the fabulous Anita, Jennifer Rias , grew up performing at Moonlight, and recently returned to San Diego in the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She’s a knockout as Anita, with just the right smarts, moves, toughness, sex appeal and attitude. The perfect counterpart to the smaller, sweeter, more gentle and naïve Maria, beautifully played by Ayme Olivo , who’s blessed with a crystalline, angelic soprano voice. As the gang leaders, Robert Pieranunzi acts better than he sings as Riff; Elijah Reyes is potent and a little menacing as Bernardo. Allan Snyder’s Tony starts out looking a little too clean-cut for even a peripheral gang-guy, but he grows in energy and credibility, and meshes extremely well with Olivo ; their connection is palpable and ultimately heart-breaking. The Jets have better defined characters to work with than the Sharks, and the guys are all good, especially in the delightfully updated moves and intimations of “Gee, Officer Krupke .” Jennifer Bishop is ideal and agile as the tomboy Anybodys , Ralph Johnson is excellent as the exasperated and ineffectual Doc, and Jaysen Waller does a fine turn as the Principal.
The sets (borrowed from Starlight Theatre) are serviceable; the brownstone with the front stoop is especially evocative. The costumes were coordinated by Carlotta Malone, and the colorful outfits for the Gym dance were rented from Fullerton Civic Light Opera. The large and very competent ensemble provides terrific dancing, true to Robbins’ classic original, with a little extra Latin spice added by choreographer Carlos Mendoza. The standout numbers are the Mambo at the Gym, “ America ,” The Rumble and “ Krupke .” Director Steve Glaudini keeps the pace sprightly and makes good use of the apron and the center aisle, so even a large audience feels part of the action. While the big numbers are splashy and the fights intense (and frighteningly believable), the intimate scenes, especially in the dress shop and at the very end, are moving and affecting. The 22-piece orchestra, under the musical direction of Elan McMahan and the baton of Ken Gammie , has all the sass and brass this marvelous score requires. We don’t get to see this show often enough. Grab the opportunity while you can.
THE LOCATION: Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista’s Brengle Terrace Park , through August 26
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
KEEP THE FAITH
THE SHOW: Susan and God , the penultimate play of Rachel Crothers , a prolific playwright who, over a three decade span (1906-1940), had 29 plays produced on Broadway. Most are out of print, and Crothers is all but forgotten. This play, her most famous, was retrieved and revived last year at Off Broadway’s Mint Theatre. The original New York production (1937) starred Gertrude. The 1940 film featured Fredric March and Joan Crawford (MGM’s reigning queen, Norma Shearer, reportedly turned down the role because she didn’t want to play ‘a mature woman with children’). At Lamb’s, director Robert Smyth proclaimed “the regional premiere of a 70 year-old play.”
THE BACKSTORY/THE STORY: Crothers was a passionate champion of women’s rights and freedoms, and a staunch political activist (during WWI, she founded Stage Women’s War Relief, so actresses could assist in the war effort, making charitable contributions and providing free tickets to soldiers). Susan and God was inspired by the then-popular, trendy Oxford Group, a religious movement whose appeal among the wealthy was pervasive in the 1920s and ‘30s. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and later, Up With People, were descendants of the Oxford Group.
Susan Trexel is a flighty socialite who returns to her well-heeled East coast community from a trip abroad, brimming with excitement over a new-fangled religious movement she was introduced to by an English noblewoman. She begins imposing her religious fervor on her friends, meddling with (and even wrecking) their relationships. But she’s avoiding her own problems at home: a shaky marriage, an alcoholic husband, and a gawky, unhappy adolescent daughter. From a modern perspective, it could be viewed as a sly commentary on religious fanaticism, proselytizing, televangelism or cults.
THE PLAYERS: The Lamb’s ensemble is beautifully outfitted (costumes by Jeanne Reith ), and they seem to be having a fine old time. But they’re never convincingly upper crust; they just don’t have the snooty superciliousness of their class. And some of the characters are less well defined than others; truth be told, some of the characters are less well drawn than others. But no complaints about Sarah Zimmerman; she rules as self-centered Susan. The whole place lights up whenever she’s onstage; she’s absolutely luminous. Zimmerman was one of those star-potential kids (like Bix Bettwy , now at Yale) who got their start at Lamb’s. She went on to the Boston Conservatory and returned for an MFA from the USD/Old Globe program. She’s appeared on Broadway, at Lincoln Center and on TV. Now, she shows the next generation how it’s done. The latest Lamb’s Players ‘find’ is , the wonderfully natural, unassuming Kelli Plaisted , who’s been acting (at CYT and CCT) since she was eight. Remember the name and be on the lookout for this adorable sprite; if we’re lucky, we’ll be seeing her onstage frequently, and soon. As Blossom, she starts out with an awful orthodontic appliance, thick glasses and braids. Her appearance improves considerably by the end, but she never gets to fully ‘blossom’ and become beautiful.
A bewigged Lance Arthur Smith does an excellent job as her enamored but unstable Dad, making the character far less of a lovesick wimp than March played him in the movie. Doren Elias, Cynthia Gerber, Colleen Kollar and KB Mercer do their usual solid work. And Cris O’Bryon adds an extra measure of period elegance, with his marvelous era-appropriate piano-playing throughout. Robert Smyth keeps the action moving and the repartee sprightly. But these folks are far too nice; there’s none of the bitchy bite they really should have. Still, it’s enjoyable to watch Susan make her transformation, which brings her to her senses – about love, friendship, family, and God.
THE PRODUCTION The set (design by Nick Fouch , set pieces by Mike Buckley) is splendid, with its rich, woody feel, central (movable) staircase, marble flooring and imposing windows, backed by sumptuous skies (lighting by Nate Parde ). The baby grand is on a turntable that rotates as O’Bryon plays during scene transitions. In the second act, the set is rapidly and magically transformed (by the cast) to another room/house/locale. In the end, the play feels light and frothy, but it makes for some fine end-of-summer fun.
THE LOCATION: Lamb’s Players Theatre, through September 23
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
FOLLOW YOUR BLITZ
THE SHOW: The Fritz Blitz of New Plays by California Writers, the 14the annual presentation of new works, began its four-week run with a mixed bag.
Week I is the only one of the four that features more than one work. Three short pieces were among the six selected from more than 100 statewide submissions. It wasn’t always clear why.
The evening opened with Stealing the Covers by Jay Tannenbaum of Los Angeles . A couple is in bed. She rails at him. He tries, futiltely , to comfort her. The relationship seems to be failing. John Rosen and Diana Sparta, directed by D. Candis Paule , are excellent, believable. We’ve heard these conversations before – sometimes in our own bedrooms. But just when we’re getting interested, taken in by the characters, the playlet ends, rather abruptly and unsatisfyingly .
Then came In the Wake of the Bounty, a hilarious comedy by Kim Porter (formerly of San Diego , currently of San Francisco ). She proved her playwriting mettle in 2005, when she won a Patté — the McDonald Playwriting Award — for her very serious, quirky and compelling family drama, Munched. It’s great to see her full dramatic range. This delicious two-hander is uproarious throughout, wonderfully directed by Duane Daniels and starring Justin Brinsfield , an early Fritz- nik , back (briefly) from L.A., and Christopher Gyre (formerly Chris White), another long-time Fritz regular now living in LaLaLand . They both nail that delightful, much-lamented Fritz sense of the absurd. They make us believe they’re stranded in the ocean, swaying rhythmically throughout the short but delectable piece (with a perfect, uncredited sound design). First, we meet the scruffy Gyre, writing, Robinson Crusoe-like, in his little diary, recounting the episodes of yet another shipwreck. His first made him a media darling. Now he’s hoping to get back into the spotlight, outdoing his own record; it’s been 143 days, but he’s on his last drops of fresh water. Soon, he hears a shout of distress, and meets up with Brinsfield , a kind of stoner reminiscent of Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. He incessantly spouts words like “Dude,” “gnarly,” and “whack.” Steve’s a big fan of “ Liferaft Willy,” and can’t believe they’re stranded together. The awestruck Steve carries Willy’s book everywhere, and in the middle of the ocean, proffers it for inscription. But Willy becomes hostile, viewing Steve as a potential usurper of his hot-commodity position. They’ve both been on the water the same incredible amount of time, so Willy won’t be setting any records. So he tries to do away with Steve, inadvertently puncturing his own inner tube with his trusty pencil (another deft comic touch from Daniels – they’re floating in kiddie tubes with animal heads!). To save himself from drowning, he climbs desperately onto Brinsfield’s shoulders like a terrified monkey scrambling up a tree. It’s all too too funny, and terrifically done. It should’ve been the end to the evening.
But, for some unfathomable reason, Daniels (who made all the play selections this year) chose Vicky and Bubbles, a long and pointless exercise by Los Angeles playwright Maile Flanagan, as the finale. Morgan Trant did an excellent job as the titular Vicky, a tough, Christian-minded, non-swearing but pugnacious truck driver who thinks she’s Jesus Emanuel, picks up hitchhikers and has an attraction for women, though she righteously resents being called a lesbian. She fights a lot and prays a lot. Once she’s introduced to the music of Beverly Sills (by an unnecessary character who never reappears), Vicky becomes obsessed, and stalks the operatic superstar by phone, mail and finally, in person, kidnapping her to bring her home, where she lives with her ailing Gram (another undeveloped character). Other ancillary folks come and go; the piece slowly builds up a head of suspenseful steam, and then totally peters out. The timing of this play is more than a tad awkward, what with Sills having died this summer (the second part of the title, btw, refers to Sills’ nickname). And it’s ungainly to have an actor portray such a famous person in a straight role, a thankless task that falls to talented and well-intentioned Kim Strassburger . It all devolves into a meaningless conclusion.
This first Blitz week, they should’ve quit while they were ahead.
THE LOCATION: The Fritz Blitz at the Lyceum, through September 9
THE GOOD EARTH
THE SHOW: RISE: The California Earth Project , Eveoke Dance Theatre
Gina Angelique is good to her word. Her new piece, probably her last San Diego effort, gets a rise out of audiences. It’s a ‘ dancumentary ’ that is intended to be as informational as inspirational, a call to action from a lifelong activist. There’s even a questionnaire in the program, asking if the dance ‘inspired you to take action on behalf of the earth; it then goes on to the next, more in-your-face step of asking “What will you do?”
Gina comes from a whole family of activists, and the mission of the company she founded 13 years ago is to “cultivate compassionate social action through arts education and evocative performance.” Over the years, she has celebrated women, taken hip hop into her own (feminist) hands, and covered various highly charged issues of concern to her and her cohorts/collaborators. She’s gone downtown into areas dancers fear to tread, and changed the lives of many young people by grabbing them off the streets and teaching them to dance. The company offers a mind-boggling 80 classes a week. They are committed to disseminating dance and spreading the good word about Good Work. Now Angelique has taken her convictions even further. Desperately concerned about the environment, she created this performance to document her own quest, to respect her Mother Earth. She has already moved out of San Diego , with her husband, Chris Hall, and two young children, to live a self-sufficient, self-sustaining, eco-friendly lifestyle in Northern California . She interviewed others who are equally concerned, and their words, like her own (more poetic and lyrical, but still grounded, like the others, in grim tales and activist rhetoric), course through the evening, underscored by the music of Philip Glass and Fred Frith . A major point Angelique is making is to Slow Down. And to that maxim she is also true. A good deal of the dance is in painstaking slo -mo.
The production is certainly provocative, and many of the stage pictures are stunning. The entire 2-hour piece is set in a sandbox chock-full of what appear to be the most earth-unfriendly of items: Styrofoam packing ‘peanuts.’ They are, in fact, made of cornstarch and are edible and recyclable. A sign in the lobby tells how every aspect of the production is Green. The novelty of the setting wears off pretty fast, but unlike most of the dance props Angelique has used over the years (brooms, fences, stones), this conceit continues throughout. Butoh dancer Charlene Penner, with her signature focus, balance and concentration, seems very much outside the action, an earth-user/abuser in an ‘outdoors’ outfit (plaid shirt, jeans and boots). She is the one sickened by the toxicity of the earth (at one point, she even ‘throws up’ the ‘poisons’ she’s ‘ingested’). Periodically, she draws a drape, a kind of pool cover, over the box, ‘burying’ the dancers underneath, while lights and videos are projected on its surface.
The lighting, video and sound design were created by Hall, and they are the real star of the show. They make the mounds undulate like water and peak like sand. Then there are video images of Angelique’s hands, sifting through the sands (of time?), and her full body ‘walking her walk’ on the beach, on her amazing journey, ending laid out on the sand, supine, topless, as her youngest child, Isadora (apt name!) toddles over adorably and naively, and latches onto her mother’s breast (the natural wave – and hope – of the future). The visual images of the production are dazzling at times, but the video scenes are protracted and repetitive. The dance moves, too, though often brilliant in the images they create, become tiresome after a time, as do the interviews, which sometimes drone on soporifically.
The dancers are clad in white, powdered in whiteface, with character-defining white hats, mostly whimsical. They wear gloves and goggles and facemasks. They writhe, they choke, they bury themselves, they cling, they come up for air. And at the end, they walk precariously backward, barefoot, along the very narrow rim of the ‘pen’ that had confined them, their moves echoing the repeated theme of the piece: “A step backwards is progress.”
The dance and its creator were successful in reaching this audience member: when it was all over, I felt guilty. I vowed to conserve more and better, to be more aware of how I use utilities and the earth’s resources. But I also felt a bit pummeled. The point could have been made in 80 beautiful, crisply evocative moments, maybe even 50 (the length of the first act). But we won’t see this type of dance-infused Al Gore documentary again any time soon. Gina, alas, has been, you might say, swallowed up by the earth. She’s left a gaping hole behind; the cultural landscape of San Diego will never be quite the same. She was, and is, a force of nature. I hope she continues to use her capacious heart and soul for the good of the people (artistically) as well as for the good of the planet.
THE LOCATION: The Eveoke Dance Theatre at Centro Cultural de la Raza , through August 26
IN THE BEGINNING
THE SHOW : The Apple Tree, the 1966 musical created by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (of Fiddler fame ), with book by Bock, Harnick and Jerome Coopersmith . The Broadway original was nominated for six Tonys , but only snagged one. Last year, Kristen Chenoweth wowed audiences in a Broadway revival. Now, along comes San Diego Theaterscene’s own teen correspondent, Alice Cash, and the Broadway Kids of San Diego, a group she founded three years ago, at the ripe old age of 13! She doesn’t shy away from tough stuff; last year, she directed and produced Into the Woods and Honk, both with huge casts.
This one’s a smaller show, but musically very challenging. Alice pared the three musical one-acts down to two. Act I is based on Mark Twain’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” and a good deal of the dialogue comes directly from the source (even the setting of the Garden of Eden on Lake Erie in upstate New York, so a few of the jokes fell flat – with cast and audience. Having lived in Buffalo for several years, I found them hilarious). Act II (actually Act III in the original) is based on Julies Feiffer’s fantasy, “ Passionella ,” about a poor chimney sweep who yearns to be – and thanks to her Fairy Godmother, does become – a moooooovie star. Here again, the setting seemed alien to the players: the psychedelic ‘70s, with references to the likes of Allen Ginsburg and Dylan Thomas, appeared to elude all concerned.
Nevertheless, the production was charming and well executed. Alice added some interesting touches – a puzzle-piece floor, broken mirrors that floated down from the flyspace after ‘the fall,’ and silent ‘Readers’ flanking the stage, poring over copies of “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” “The Communist Manifesto,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” To put an even finer point on her point, the director presented a series of slide projections that illustrated some of the worst horrors visited on the world since Eden : the atom bomb, the Holocaust, wars, riots, racism, etc. Alice is not only ambitious, she’s inventive. And though she didn’t credit herself, I think she also made the costumes. Well, at least I happened to see buying the flowered fabric for the supposed hippie number (though I’m not sure anyone had much of an idea what that meant).
There were some standout performances, dramatic or musical (though rarely both). Twelfth grader Charlotte Ostrow was thoroughly engaging as Eve, and her voice was one of the strongest in the cast. As her First Mate, Adam, 10th grader Andrew Ribner totally nailed the Don’t-Get-Too-Close-and-Don’t-Talk attitude of the first (beleaguered) male. High school senior Jamie Bock was seductive as the Snake but she really soared as the prissy, white-gloved Narrator in Act II. As the Producer, 8th grader Jonathan Edzant , a bona fide ham, displayed a potent voice and a comical presence. Ryan Murphy (a 19 year-old student at Miramar College ) made Flip, the Perfect Man, an enigmatic cross between James Brown, Mick Jagger and a holy roller. Odd choice (odd wig, too, for a ‘hippie’ type), but he got his laughs. As the transformed chimney sweep, Ella/ Passionella , 16 year-old Adriana Yedidsion exhibited a dynamic stage presence, a powerhouse belt, and a great pair of legs. She should go far, on all counts. The rest of the cast of 17, representing about ten schools county-wide, put in earnest performances. And they were backed up by an impressive (if sometimes overly measured) 8-piece orchestra. Like all the Broadway Kids productions, this is an all-kid effort, onstage and behind, and they’re all to be commended. As for Alice , you go, girl! Keep pushing the high school envelope!
NEWS AND VIEWS…
… KUSI and me… I’ll be appearing on KUSI-TV’s morning show, “Inside San Diego ,” every third Wednesday (10-11am). If you missed my last appearance, you can view the segment on my website (www.patteproductions.com). My next turn on KUSI is Wednesday, September 5. Stay tuned! And keep commenting!
… Oh, how we danced… I’m chronicling my prep (with my hot partner, Daniel) as one of the celebrity contestants in Malashock Dance’s fundraising event, “Malashock Thinks You Can Dance.” Check out my Dance Blog on my website ( www.patteproductions.com ). Malashock’s 20th anniversary benefit event is gonna be really cool! Saturday, September 15 in the state-of-the-art Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall in Sorrento Valley . Proceeds support Malashock’s education and outreach programs. Get your tix at 619-260-1622; www.malashockdance.org
..Speaking of Dance practice… Grabbing onto the current TV dance craze, the Broadway Theatre is presenting the North County premiere of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Richard Alfieri’s 2003 two-hander focuses on a retired woman and the private lessons that change her life. Broadway Theatre co-founder Douglas Davis stars as the over-the-hill chorus boy-turned-instructor who tries to get Joan Westmoreland up on her feet. Davis ’ real-life partner, co-founder/actor/director Randall Hickman , directs. Aug. 30-Sept. 23, in the group’s friendly and intimate space in Vista . Tix at broadwayvista.com or 760-806-7905.
… SOS! Dancer Down !… but only temporarily. The delightful and talented Traves Butterworth, founder/choreographer of Butterworth Dance Company, finally succumbed to the inevitable and underwent spinal surgery for a long-term lumbar disc problem. He made it through with flying colors and was in good spirits post-op. He’s probably at home by the time you read this, but he’d be happy to receive your cards and notes, I’m sure: email@example.com or through Butterworth Dance Company, P.O. Box 16611 , San Diego 92176 . We expect you to leap into good health, Traves !
… Get Better, for Free… Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company is offering a Free class for Actors, a demo of the ‘Movement Intensive for the Working Actor’ class. Taught by Mo`olelo Associate Director Kimber Lee and Narrative Improvisational Theater Specialist John Hazlewood (MFA, U. of Washington ), this class will focus on rigorous physical work that actors can then apply to building character and story. Monday September 17, 7– 9pm, at the AASD Rehearsal Space on Truxtun Road . Limited enrollment; reserve a spot at 858-761-1280 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
…SHE PUT IN HER TIME… and then some! Diane Sinor has spent 47 years at the Old Globe Theatre, and now it’s time for her to take her act elsewhere! Monday, September 17 ,5 -7pm, there’ll be a celebration of her years of service and her retirement. In the Globe’s Rehearsal Hall, off the Alcazar Gardens . Rsvp by 9/10 to: Monica Sullivan, email@example.com or 619-299-2610. That turns out to be a busy night: Carlsbad Playreaders is doing a reading of Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things, and Cygnet and the Black Ensemble Theatre are collaborating on a reading of August Wilson’s King Hedley II (see below). So much theater, so little time….
… PAST AND FUTURE A.D. AT LJP…. News from the former and soon-to-be artistic directors of the La Jolla Playhouse. Des McAnuff , now a co-artistic director at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada (formerly the Stratford Shakespeare Festival), is set to direct G.B. Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra next summer, with the title roles played by esteemed actor and Ontario native Christopher Plummer (7-time Tony nominee) and Tony-winner (for Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change) Anika Noni Rose. Meanwhile, back on Broadway, incoming artistic director Christopher Ashley’s production of the roller-disco musical Xanadu is on a roll. A national tour and London production are in the works. Maybe San Diego , with its inside connection, will get an early peek.
… Honoring two great men… The San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre is presenting a special benefit event that pays tribute to a local and a national icon: Dr. Floyd Gaffney and Dr. Martin Luther King. The evening of entertainment will contribute to the Floyd Gaffney Memorial Fund and will help support the next season of SDBET. Antonio ‘TJ’ Johnson will re-create Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, presented 44 years ago. There will also be performances by the ‘SDBET Players,’ the gospel group Voices of Prayze , and the Dwight Love Jazz Ensemble. August 28 at St. Paul ’s Cathedral. Tix at 619-280-5650.
…Re-Cycle! … Cygnet Theatre continues its collaboration with the San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre with The Cycle Plays, Part II, more staged readings of the stunning works of the late, great August Wilson. Next up is King Hedley II, with a cast of local stars: TJ Johnson, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson, Grandison M. Phelps III, Monique Gaffney and Hassan El Amin . Sept. 17-18 at Cygnet Theatre. cygnettheatre.com or 619-337-1525.
Keep it A ll in the Family… Rosina Reynolds and her daughter, Katie Reynolds, appear onstage together again (close on the heels of their run in Cygnet’s Arcadia ), in a reading of Iron, by Rona Munro, which also features Ron Choularton and Jillian Frost . Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 8pm.
Tix at cygnettheatre.com or 619-337-1525.
…Another New York/San Diego Connection… Playwright/screenwriter Karl Gadjusek , who cut his writing teeth on local stages, and served as co-director of San Diego ’s experimental, off-the-wall Theatre E years ago, just opened a play on W. 42nd Street . Writing in the New York Times, Neil Genzlinger said, “Fair Game, a production of Genesius Theater Group, would be much better if it were half as full of twists and closet skeletons. Karl Gajdusek , the playwright, doesn’t seem to know when to stop stuffing things into his story and just let his characters, who are good ones, play it out.” Now, which one of us spelled the playwright’s name wrong??
…Making a Really Big Comeback… Teri Brown hasn’t been onstage since last summer, when she appeared in Four Dogs and a Bone at 6th@Penn. But now she’s returning bravely, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the interim. She’s currently in a remission stage, and is anxious to get back on the boards. She’s appearing in the OnStage Playhouse production of How I Learned to Drive, with Bonnie Alexander, Kym Pappas, Bobby Schiefer and Rob Tyler, directed by Carla Nell. The show runs Sept. 7-Oct. 6. Adding her own name to the MS Hall of Fame, which includes Annette Funicello, Montel Williams, Lola Falana and Teri Garr, Brown’s motto is “I do the MS walk every day!”
…DYLAN and ELVIS Spotted Together! Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, that is … hitting the road for a 13-date tour this fall… but there are no SoCal stops! How come we don’t rate this dynamic duo?? But we do get to hear Queen Latifah sing the blues .. and wail some jazz.. at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido , Nov. 19. Tix : 800-988-4253 , www.artcenter.org .
.. A peek at our History… the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum . It’s really mind-boggling, in so many ways. The scrolls themselves are tiny beyond belief – little shreds and fragments. What they say is sometimes shocking (especially about women!). Interesting, too, that both women and Jews were excluded from any of the early study of the scrolls. But what they represent, and where they came from, and how old they are (1st century B.C.E.) is nothing short of breathtaking. Then there are the gorgeous Israel photos at the entrance, and the computer simulation/virtual reality tour of what the site at Qumran was probably like (though it certainly looks like a modern warehouse, the way they’ve configured it!). The museum wasn’t all that crowded, even on a summer Sunday afternoon, and it was a thrilling experience (especially exciting was the Copper Scroll on loan from Jordan ). Some of these fragments have never been on display before, and this is the largest exhibit ever, put together just for this show, thanks to the Jacobs Family. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Through Dec. 31. And if you’ve already been there, consider a re-visit; fragments of the Ten Commandments section of the Old Testament (the best preserved of all the Deuteronomy manuscripts found at Qumran in the 1940s-50s) will be on display beginning October. sdnhm.org/scrolls/; 877-946-7797.
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Pat’s Picks)
West Side Story – terrific dancing and some fabulous leads
Moonlight Stage Productions, through August 26
Susan and God – airy but well-done fun; Sarah Zimmerman is luminous
Lamb’s Players Theatre, through September 23
Bell , Book and Candle – delectable, romantic, attractive production; very well acted and directed
The Globe’s Cassius Carter Centre Stage, through September 9
after the quake – spare, at times amusing, and starkly beautiful; gorgeously designed, directed and acted
La Jolla Playhouse, through August 26
Two Gentlemen of Verona – light, frothy, goofy, well-acted fun
The Old Globe’s Festival Stage, in repertory with Hamlet and Two Gentlemen of Verona, through September 30
Measure for Measure – beautiful , comprehensible, relevant, flawlessly directed and performed
The Old Globe’s Festival Stage, in repertory with Hamlet and Two Gentlemen of Verona, through September 30
(For full text of all of Pat’s past reviews, going back to 1990, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
One more week to get all your Summer in… Do it at the theater!
© 2007 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.