By Pat Launer
A jazzy Side Man makes family strife
A man is cowed by his Constant Wife
While Forbidden Broadway’s at riotous play
Spoofing the shows on The Great White Way.
THE SHOW: The Constant Wife , written in 1926 by W. Somerset Maugham and set in a London drawing room, 1926
THE BACKSTORY: The plays of W. Somerset Maugham are rarely performed these days, although he is having a bit of a resurgence . In 1908, he set the record for the greatest number of plays (four) running simultaneously in London ’s West End . Maugham was a contemporary of Noel Coward and their creations bear similarities in their mutual focus on the tuxedo-and-martini crowd. Maugham has been dubbed “the bridge between Wilde and Wilder,” due to his work’s combination of dazzling word play and wickedly keen social observations. And there’s also a Shavian streak, in the presentation of issues such as women’s rights, economic independence, open marriage, and that great British bugaboo, class. For the record, Coward’s last play, A Song at Twilight, about an embittered writer, is a thinly disguised portrait of the elderly Maugham.
One of the most successful writers of the early 20th century, Maugham was the highest paid author in the world in the 1930s. Best known as a novelist (“Of Human Bondage,” “The Razor’s Edge,” “The Moon and Sixpence”), he was also a prolific playwright; he wrote 20+ plays, but after Sheppey flopped in 1933, though he lived to 1965, he never penned another play.
THE STORY: The Constant Wife is a gentle drawing room comedy about marital manners, mores and infidelities that has an unconventional, sort of semi-feminist/pragmatist twist . It’s interesting, isn’t it, that many of our most quotable epigrams and most enduring commentaries (and most brutal assaults) on Marriage come from gay men (Wilde, Coward, Williams, Albee ).
Anyway, the characters represent types and philosophies, an array of smart women and dim men. Centerstage , there’s Constance, the woman who’s “ tired of being a modern wife – a prostitute who doesn’t deliver the goods!” Being well aware that her husband is having an affair with her best friend (though everyone else is trying to keep it from her), she embarks on a clever, year-long revenge, gaining her financial independence and then going off to Italy with a former suitor who’s still in her thrall. But she’ll come back to her philandering husband, with more self-determination but still perfectly willing to compromise in order to maintain her comfortable lifestyle and flawless décor. She simply rearranges her emotional furniture and carries on.
Her mother, Lady Culver, is no modern woman; rooted in the past, she dresses as if it were still 1918, though it’s already the ‘modern age’ of 1926 — as witnessed in this production by the Butler (consummate pianist Cris O’Bryon) sneaking in some syncopation on the parlor piano. Lady Culver believes that all men will stray (“it’s in their nature”), and women must simply turn a blind eye. Constance ’s prickly sister Martha has a more cynical, spinsterly mistrust of men. Self-sufficient Barbara runs her own business and the flighty vixen, materialistic Marie-Louise is the adulterer du jour with Constance ’s husband. On the male side, the prototypical Butler knows all but says nothing, while Constance’s womanizing husband John uses his surgical career as a frequent escape hatch, but will brook no such freedom and flexibility in his wife. Far more malleable is Marie-Louise’s cuckolded husband Mortimer, fulminating at first, but easily re-duped, and ready to appease his wife with yet more expensive, expansive baubles. And for the romantic in us all, there’s the starry-eyed perpetual lover, Bernard.
The entire piece is a play on the word ‘constant’ — from the name of its heroine to the theme of marriage as a constant in our lives, but one in which the partners must constantly adapt to changing expectations and situations (including inconstancy). The language is witty, and this beautiful production moves at a brisk clip.
THE PLAYERS: With just one misstep, the production is perfectly cast and impeccably performed, under the forceful and effective direction of Seret Scott, which underscores all the wickedly funny, fast-paced humor. Henny Russell, an alumna of the USD/Globe MFA program, is delightful as Constance Middleton, making her a cool, calm, comic presence, neither saintly nor priggish, the very essence of civilized, unruffled reason and refined female machinations . Similarly, as her handsome, inconstant husband, Wynn Harmon is neither buffoon nor villain, especially amusing in his most mortified moments. Kandis Chappell brings a wonderfully droll, dry imperiousness to the status quo-endorsing dowager mother, and she gets all the best lines. She sums up her practical take on the pleasures of marriage like this: “It’s nice to have someone around to tell you you’re quite right when you know in your heart you’re quite wrong.” And as a challenge for us all, when her daughter asks, “How does one know one is in love ?, ” she fires back, “The only test of being in love with someone is: Could you use his toothbrush?” J. Paul Boehmer (most recently seen at the Globe as Banquo in last summer’s Macbeth, blithely but precariously balancing on a food-laden table in the ghost scene) evinces a quiet intensity as the stoically lovelorn suitor, Bernard, exuding virile decency under a veneer of dreariness. John Rosen makes the most of his short but humorously explosive role as the wronged husband of the ditzy Marie-Louise, played by Lara Phillips in an aptly flouncy , coquettish manner, but in the production’s one misstep, expressed in some unnamable, fluctuating accent that’s somewhere between French, Canadian, English and who-knows-what. She seems far too mindless to be any friend of Constance , so the part doesn’t ring true at all. But Cris O’Bryon is perfectly haughty and high-handed as the Butler no drawing-room comedy should be without; Heidi Fecht is just right as snidely spinsterish sister Martha; and Amanda Naughton is beautifully, properly stylish as career-woman Barbara Fawcett. It is Barbara’s’ offer of a job that gives Constance the temerity to declare, before her Nora-like door-slamming exit: “I am economically independent and therefore I am claiming my sexual independence.”
THE PRODUCTION: The production is stunning, awash in old-fashioned elegance. Ralph Funicello’s high-ceilinged, marble-floored set is white on white, with opulent objets and chinoiserie in the richly adorned niches. Globe Associate Artist Lewis Brown creates an endless fashion show of sumptuous, monochromatic outfits for the ladies: swirling visions in cream, dark rose, turquoise, brown/beige for the women with hauture ; hot ruffly pink for Marie-Louise, with equivalent (though alas, as dictated by style, less colorful) sartorial splendor for the men. Chris Parry’s lighting makes it all look lavish and splendid. The design wizardry at the Globe is one constancy we can depend on.
THE LOCATION: At the Old Globe Theatre, through May 7.
BOTTOM LINE : Best Bet
BROADWAY OR BUST (A GUT)
THE SHOW: Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit , written (as the last two decades of Forbidden Broadway revues have been) by Gerard Alessandrini. Miracle Theatre Productions is hosting the award-winning Off-Broadway cast for an exclusive 10-week engagement.
THE STORY: Okay, listen up. Crimes are being committed against the American theater. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to convulse uncontrollably as the alleged perpetrators are skewered and brought down, spoofed unto the death, for their heinous acts in the name of entertainment. Forbidden Broadway is back, and they’re taking no prisoners (except you, for 90 minutes of nonstop laughter). The latest incarnation of the acclaimed show, which recently won the 2005 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revue, may be the funniest ever.
The framing device is SVU, the Special Victims Unit, the link being Jerry Ohrbach , who was a long-time Broadway baby ( 42nd Street , Chicago , etc.), before he became a TV crime show staple. So the “Law and Order” guys are brought in when a 30 year-old ‘Annie,’ smoking a cigarette but still wearing that infantile red dress, is gunned down while singing a sniggering riff on her signature song, “I’m gonna be 30 – Tomorrow!” It’s all downhill from there, sticking it to various “homicides of a theatrical nature,” shows that are killing Broadway.
There are derisive references to plotless musicals, pre-recorded accompaniment, jukebox-stealing shows, “vapid glitzy fluff” bankrolled by conglomerates (“If you want ovations, work for corporations!”) and the boring Tony show (“straight people turn it off”). Gut-busting send-ups of Bob Fosse dance moves, crooning Harry Connick , Jr. (in The Pajama Game), Kathleen Turner (a man’s voice, of course), a dead-on Harvey Fierstein (hilarious Kevin McGlynn ) first in Hairspray and then, still wearing that oversized flowery housedress, as Tevye in Fiddler (beard added); the enduring Chita vs. Rita fracas, an old standby made fresh by Chita’s recent Broadway show (first seen here at the Globe); this time, instead of the movie of ‘West Side Story,” where Rita Moreno stepped into Chita Rivera’s groundbreaking role, Rita shows up to co-opt Chita’s own life story. The Light in the Piazza gets a really funny drubbing (flying hat and all), Robert Goulet takes a hit (as usual, for his off-key lyric oblivion), Les Miz gets more than its share, and the lyrics have actually changed since the last time, though the dizzying turntable moves remain. The recently down-sized Beauty and the Beast gets tromped (“Beauty’s been decreased”), as does Mamma Mia, and of course, The Phantom. Ethel Merman puts in an appearance for the finale, along with Mary Martin, Rex Harrison and Yul Brynner (“There’s No Broadway Like Our Broadway”). But there’s lots of new stuff, about Jersey Boys and Avenue Q, Wicked, Spamalot and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang . The nastiest segments take potshots at the overhyped , talentless Sarah Brightman (former wife of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, about whom the same could be said), and Yoko Ono, who in her every act practically begs for a thrashing; last year’s invitation was the monstrous Lennon). The laughs whoosh by with tsunami force and frequency; prepare yourself to be overcome.
THE PLAYERS/ THE PRODUCTION: This is the real thing; actually, it’s better than the cast recording. These four performers are fantastic, each one a stellar singer and incredible mimic. Tiny Jeanne Montano is great as the floppy marionette in the Chicago number, brilliant as Franki Valli, funnyashell as the slightly retarded daughter from Light in the Piazza and the Les Miz waif and Yoko and Wicked’s Kristen Chenoweth. Kevin B. McGlynn does a fair Jerry Ohrbach , a fabulous Fierstein, Goulet, Adam Pascal from Rent, Audrey II (Little Shop) and ‘ Rafreaky ’ (aka Rafiki from The Lion King, singing in African clicks and translating it as ‘Ka- ching !”). Statuesque Valerie Fagan makes her mark as Annie, Bebe Neuwirth, buck-toothed, wild-haired Sarah Brightman , Carol Channing, a puce-clothed ABBA-girl and best of all, huge-mouthed, megawatt Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Ethel Merman. Jared Bradshaw teams with McGlynn as a stooping Fosse dancer, and does his own uproarious turns as Jean Valjean , Harry Connick , the Phantom and Tim Curry ( Spamalot ). Even the talented pianist David Caldwell, gets into the act.
There isn’t much to the set, but the parodic production posters adorning the theater walls are pretty amusing: Rant, Gagtime , Squeaky Todd (the Sweeney version that’s Teeny), etc. It’s the costumes (Alvin Colt) that nearly steal the show; they’re not only incredibly clever, but there are so many of them… and the changes are hair-trigger timed! The Lion King crutches and headpieces (for “the Circle of Mice” and “Can You Feel the Pain Tonight”) are especially comical. Alessandrini and Phillip George directed the brash comic mayhem, and though the setup is a tad silly, it all works like crazy… and you’d be crazy to miss it.
THE LOCATION: At the Theatre in Old Town , through June 4.
BOTTOM LINE : Best Bet
ALL THAT JAZZ
THE SHOW: Side Man, a semi-autobiographical drama by Warren Leight , which won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
THE STORY: Leight’s father was a jazz musician, or side-man, hired to play for diverse groups in various musical styles. His sometimes funny, often gut-wrenching play simultaneously traces the decline of a marriage and the Big Band era, as jazz had to step aside to make way for rock and roll. The narrator, Clifford, moves in and out of the story, even retelling events that happened before he was born, before his mother became an alcoholic and his trumpet-playing father became an irresponsible obsessive, oblivious to everything but his music. Jumping back and forth from 1953-1985, the play chronicles a time, a place (New York City), the musician’s life and the disastrous effects it can have on an already dysfunctional family.
THE PLAYERS/ THE PRODUCTION: The structure of the piece is tricky; a narrator can be really intrusive and distancing, but skilled director/faculty member C.J. Keith and her engaging undergraduate cast make this jazzy riff sing. It was a coup for SDSU to snag the local premiere of the play, and they’ve obviously really put their hearts and souls into it. The acting requirements are daunting: there’s drug abuse and alcoholism, outrages and meltdowns, love scenes, suicide attempts, disappointment and despair. There are comic moments (the jazzmen’s celebration of the son’s first unemployment check) and of course, there’s the music, including an amazing vintage recording of Clifford Brown (“Brownie”), the best jazz trumpeter of his generation, playing Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia ” on the night he died. The scene where the musicians are transfixed by that recording is nicely orchestrated and heartfelt — even if these students don’t seem to know any of the period tunes they’re required to sing, such as Bing Crosby’s “Pennies from Heaven” (in a funny drug-riff, “Bennies from Heaven”) or the Sinatra song “The Second Time Around.”
Overall, though, the ensemble rises admirably to the dramatic challenges. Adam Parker is endearing as 29 year-old Clifford, recounting the horrors of his intense, extreme family. At age 10, he’s already the full-time caregiver for his wacko mother, a role he continues to play throughout his life, as his father becomes more distant and ineffectual when the work dries up. Brendan Cavalier has just the right tone as the trumpeting, adolescent father, Gene Glimmer, who’s sometimes joyful (when it comes to the music), often depressed. As his wife, nicknamed Crazy Terry, Katie Hunt has to be angry, drunk, hysterical and suicidal, but she manages to bring humor and pathos to the role. Brittany Fenison is quite credible as Patsy, a waitress at the musicians’ hangout, who’s slept with all the guys (except Gene) at one time or another. As Gene’s cohorts and fellow sidemen, Lloyd Roberson II is particularly potent as the strung-out Jonsey , a one-eyed junkie trombone player; Matthieu Chapman plays the lead trumpeter, Al, nicknamed Romeo (though he doesn’t make it obvious why). Brandon Maier does a great job with the sputtering lateral lisp (a difficult one to effect) of Ziggy , the trumpeter everyone ridicules, though he seems to do a little better in relationships than the other guys.
The set (Chris Allison) is an array of playing spaces (most effective is the tufted leather bar), the lighting (Maureen Hanratty ) is moody, the costumes (Naomi Spinak , a Patté Award winner for Bat Boy, The Musical) are wonderful at nailing the era; I especially loved those powder blue tuxedos.
In the seven years since the show premiered, it hasn’t made it to San Diego . Now that it’s here, however briefly, you owe it to yourself, and a talented group of budding professionals, to face the music.
THE LOCATION: In the Experimental Theatre at San Diego State University , through April 16.
BOTTOM LINE : Best Bet
YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE DANCIN’
Something wondrous this way came this week, with a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, one of the most acclaimed modern dance troupes in the world. Newsweek dubbed Taylor “the world’s greatest living choreographer” and the New York Times called his group “one of the most exciting, innovative and delightful companies in the entire world.” Taylor himself described his works as “food for the eyes,” cool-headed observations of the best and worst of human behavior, viewed always through a lens of compassion. In his 54 years of innovation, Taylor has changed the way we look at dance and at ourselves. He’s been the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, the author of an acclaimed autobiography (“Private Domain”), winner of an Emmy and a MacArthur “genius” award. He’s been feted with Kennedy Center honors, the National Medal of Arts, France ’s Légion d’Honneur and a half -dozen honorary doctorates. He’s truly a Renaissance man, a naturalist as well as a dancemaker , a cultural icon and self-described “reporter,” who takes as much pride in his wildflower gardens, scarab collection, writing, painting and furniture-making as he does the dances that have thrilled million worldwide.
This week, at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, the Paul Taylor Dance Company made a one-night stop, with a local premiere from its 50-state, 50th anniversary tour. They lived up to their reputation and influence, which was once historically summarized by Laura Shapiro in Newsweek as follows: “Short course in modern dance: In the beginning there was Martha Graham, who changed the face of an art form and discovered a new world. Then there was Merce Cunningham, who stripped away the externals and showed us the heart of movement. And then there was Paul Taylor, who let the sun shine in.”
The program opener was all about sunshine. Spring Rounds was just created in 2005, to music by Richard Strauss. In this carefree rite of spring, the 14 dancers looked like new-bloomed flowers, or sherbet scoops, but they moved like birds and butterflies to the romantic melodies, joyfully springing, walking, hugging, ballroom- or folk dancing, clustered in loving couples and circling, leaping groups. There were balletic turns and long-held arabesques, backward leans and bodies seemingly blown by the wind. Agile, fleet-footed Lisa Viola had the principal solos here, but her dancing wasn’t as thrilling as it was later in the program, in the heart-stopping, evening-ending “Esplanade.” The two earlier works, “Dust” (1977) and “Esplanade” (1975) were more breathtaking, more varied in tone.
“Dust” was by far the most macabre, a dark, athletic, stunningly pessimistic view of the less felicitous behaviors of human beings. Performed to the Concert Champêtre of Francis Poulenc, the piece takes on new resonance in our current wartime era. A huge, evocative, knotted rope hangs upstage left. The costumes (Gene Moore, also responsible for the set) look like naked, painted bodies. The moves are often angular, knock-kneed, squatting, foot flexed and hyperextended ; the infested, infected dancers scratch themselves mercilessly, sport useless limbs, use fabric slings to drag the ‘wounded’ on and offstage. The blind lead the blind. Humans are reduced to animal moves and behavior. The beautifully alarming final image is reminiscent of evolution, an interconnected lineup of development, from the slithering, animalistic belly-crawler to an upright posture with arms triumphantly uplifted. The stage pictures were unsettling, disturbing but gorgeous.
The finale, “Esplanade,” is best known for its daringly dangerous, hurtling spills of the final movement, which literally stop the heart as women take extended running jumps into the men’s arms, never failing to be caught, but catching our breath every time. The eight dancers, in coral or tan, the men appearing bare-chested (costumes by John Rawlings), run, race, chase, circle, come together, dissolve and reassemble, execute smoothly daring slides across the width of the stage, and in formation, make strikingly sharp turns in joyous moves set to two Bach violin concerti. The petite Viola does her magnificent, frenzied footwork here, and ultimately throws herself into the waiting arms of the excellent Michael Trusnovec . Lissome Heather Berest is enigmatic, dressed in khaki pants, not the flouncy skirts of the girls. She seems convulsed in sadness; the others circle menacingly around her. Julie Tice astounds when she blithely takes an exhilarating walk all over Trusnovec’s muscular body. The athleticism is extraordinary .. The precision and unpredictability are astonishing. The lighting (by Jennifer Tipton) is stunning. But it’s those flying leaps that stay lodged forever in memory.
… The latest Carlsbad Playreaders presentation was a reading of Laura Shaine Cunningham’s Beautiful Bodies. Close your eyes and … the only thing missing was the commercials. Kind of a cross between “Sex and the City,” “Friends” and “Desperate Housewives,” the overlong play concerned a group of desperate thirtysomethings , who come together for a baby shower (one is pregnant, no man in sight) and talk about men and sex, as they nip and bite at each other while drinking, smoking dope and boring an audience to tears. Who could possibly be interested in these deeply shallow paeans to self-absorption? A laugh track would’ve helped, especially with the onlookers decidedly leaning in the elderly direction.
Everything about the writing was derivative and sitcomish , though there were a few humorous lines: On weight: “I look thinner standing up.”” And the ticking clock: “Our eggs are rotting as we speak.” The pseudo-Heady Philosophy: “The big irony is that there is none.” “Being married gave a focus to my discontent.” The Self-deprecation: “I play at being a waitress; I’m a wactress … I can remember all of Ophelia and none of the specials of the day.” “I thrive on disapproval; it reminds me of home.” “You all hate me – and you’re my best friends.” And let’s not forget the gratuitously bitchy comments: “Looks like Salvador Dali was your contractor.” Or the overly detailed descriptions of sexual exploits , encounters and male organs. Ugh. And of course, it’s all wrapped up in a sappy final friendship- lovefest .
The only good thing about the nearly 2½ hour evening was the performances. And they were very good indeed. As directed by New Village Arts’ Kristianne Kurner, each of the skilled actors etched a clear-cut, if vapid and thoroughly unlikable, character: Erika Beth Phillips as the perkily clueless preggo ; Monique Gaffney as the tightly wrapped, “I wait for no man” self-delusional host; Brooke McCormick as a New Age airhead who has a long-term imaginary relationship with her ex-boyfriend; Amanda Sitton who’s drinking away her boyfriend problems; Kim Strassburger very funny as a wisecracking Jewish single; and Jessica John, darkly deep-voiced and delicious as the most hateful twit of the lot, a discontented rich bitch with a brutal tongue. In last week’s column, I predicted: “With that array of talent, it can’t miss.” Well, it did. It would be a blessing to everyone if this play didn’t get a full production. If this vidiocy is what you prefer, stay home and glue yourself to the tube. There are far more satisfying theatrical experiences to be had.
Shakespeare’s 442nd birthday is coming up (April 23). Celebrate by attending San Diego ’s FIRST ANNUAL STUDENT SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL, brought to us by the friendly folks at the San Diego Shakespeare Society. Students from 22 schools (grades K- 12 )will be participating, and you should be there. The procession begins at the Organ Pavilion at 12:30pm on SATURDAY, APRIL 29, followed by presentations on various stages. The event is free. For further info, go to www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org.
OUT AND ABOUT
… Remember Sledgehammer’s provocative production of Kid Simple: A Live Radio Drama in the Flesh, with all those fabulous onstage sound-effects? Well, Scott Paulson is at it again. This time, it’s LIVE from the SDMA Ballroom: The Great Broadcast of 1926, a commemorative celebration of the San Diego Museum of Art’s 80th birthday, staged in the form of a radio re-enactment musical event (co-produced with the UCSD Arts Libraries). This fantasy broadcast from a vintage nightclub setting (including live music, dancing and “ mocktail refreshments”) will tell about the Museum and its history in Balboa Park , through interviews with local scholars and artists, quiz show contests and live radio drama. And that’s where Paulson comes in, along with his eccentric, twisted, witty and talented Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra for Radio Drama, which will provide period music and a barrage of sound effects for dramas such as “Phantom of the Organ Pavilion,” “Missing Mummy at the Museum of Man ,” and “The Case of the Curious Curator.” Though he’s really an oboe-man (he DOES know his brass from his oboe!), SFX guru Paulson has been playing baritone sax with Sue Palmer, the piano Queen of boogie-woogie (“I’m not very good,” he demurs, “but holding the bari sax makes me look thinner”). Palmer will perform, as will an “Opera Lady” (Martha Jane Weaver) and the San Diego Vintage Dancers. There’ll even be a segment about ‘songs banned from the radio,’ which will include “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” Can you afford to miss this? You can’t. Wednesday, May 15 at 7pm in the Museum’s Copley Auditorium. For info and tickets ($8-12), call 619-696-1966.
…Don’t forget wild-woman Moira Keefe in “Life With a Teenager… I’m Having a Hot Flashback.” Monday, April 17, 7:30pm at North Coast Repertory Theatre,
… and on Friday April 21 and Saturday, April 22, drop in on IMPROV-A-THON, a 28-hour improv marathon to save San Diego Theatre Sports. There’s a new show every two hours. At The Fun House, near Cygnet Theatre: 6822 El Cajon Blvd.
… newest tenant in the under-renovation NTC: the Actors Alliance of San Diego, which will be leasing space in Building 175, aka Dance Place San Diego. With membership of over 500 local actors, AASD also boasts a library of more than 4000 scripts. The organization will move its offices into the new facility, and will also have access to a rehearsal space, which is available for bookings by the acting community. For info, contact Sue Oswald: email@example.com , www.actorsalliance.com.
… and in other news, 6th @ Penn is offering an encore presentation of the Patté Award-winning performance of Monique Gaffney in I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda . Dale Morris co-stars in this heart-rending one-act. May 7-10 only. www.sixthatpenn.com
… also at 6th @ Penn, and also including the ubiquitous Monique Gaffney, the San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre and The Chronos Theatre Group are joining forces for another of the “classics from around the world” series — a staged reading of Gangsters, by Maishe Mayponya , d ir ected by Rhys Greene. In this searing drama, a gut-wrenching commentary on free speech, an African Poet is accused of inciting foment with her poetry. When she refuses to stop, she is arrested, threatened, tortured and murdered. Other cast members are Joe Powers and Kirk Bradley. Monday, April 17 at 7:30pm. For information or reservations call 619 280 5650
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Critic’s Picks)
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Side Man – a stirring production of a poignant, autobiographical play; the first local production of the Pulitzer Prize finalist
In the Experimental Theatre at SDSU, through April 16.
The Constant Wife – a gorgeously designed, fast-paced and funny production
At the Old Globe Theatre, through May 7.
Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit – drop-dead uproarious. RUN, don’t saunter, to see this side-splitting spoof of Broadway shows, with the mega-talented Off Broadway cast. Limited engagement; what are you waiting for?
At the Theatre in Old Town , through June 4.
Tongue of a Bird –fascinating but flawed play, wonderful production, excellently directed and finely acted
At the 10th Avenue Theatre, through April 23.
The Housekeeper – a goofy romantic comedy that isn’t as dark, bleak, funny or screwy as it thinks it is, but the actors are milking every minute (and they could go even further)
At 6th @ Penn Theatre, through April 26
What the Butler Saw – deeply disturbed, hilariously funny. A pitch-perfect black farce, wonderfully acted and comically timed
At 6th @ Penn Theatre, through April 30.
My Fair Lady – spectacularly inventive production; beautifully designed, directed, acted and sung
At Cygnet Theatre, EXTENDED to May 7.
Have your own Last Supper (of the Passover or Easter variety) – and then head to the theater!
©2006 Patté Productions Inc.