By Pat Launer
Seven Guitars and a Side Show;
An array of guts and glory:
The Lawnchair Man and Oliver teamed up with Mitch and Morrie.
LEARNING ABOUT LIFE… OR NOT
THE SHOW: Tuesdays with Morrie, the stage version of Mitch Albom’s 1997 bestseller about reconnecting with his influential Brandeis professor, Morrie Schwartz, stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and leaving behind a wealth of life-lessons, one weekly visit at a time. The play was co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher.
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: First, a confession: I wasn’t a fan of the book. I didn’t like Mitch at all, nor his writing (though I did love Morrie). So I think Albom got a good deal when he was joined by Jeffrey Hatcher, who in 2002, was the Old Globe’s first Shiley Playwright-in-Residence . Works of Hatcher’s that have been seen at the Globe: Smash, Scotland Road , Lucky Duck and by far the best of the lot, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, for which he also wrote the screenplay.
The framing device of the play, Morrie dancing alone with joyful abandon, is a little contrived, especially at the end when he’s already dead. But the piece (seen on TV with Jack Lemmon as Morrie, in what turned out to be his final role) is more cogent and better written than the book, even if Morrie’s aphorisms come off as a tad platitudinous. But still, he’s the far more engaging of the two characters. Mitch is a jerk, always was and at least, through the duration of the book and play, always will be. He is caught up in his whirlwind life of sports reporting, travel, radio and TV work — a self-absorbed, solipsistic work-obsessed automaton — not a very grounded, loving, warm or self-aware person. He does realize that he needs Morrie in his life, but in neither the book nor the play is there any hard evidence that he’s actually in any way changed by the experience.
THE PLAYERS: Any production Robert Grossman is in is worth seeing. We are fortunate to have this gifted New York actor in San Diego so often, thanks to his friendship and long-term working relationship with North Coast Rep artistic director David Ellenstein. Grossman was riveting in The Chosen, hilarious in Breaking Legs, poignant in Halpern and Johnson. Now, as Morrie, he manages the tightrope balance between a dying man with a debilitating, life-stealing illness (the deadly, neurologically degenerative Lou Gehrig’s disease) and an Incredible Lightness of Being. Morrie, a beloved sociology professor, was an optimist, a dancer, a lover of life. His words of wisdom may not be profound, but if more of us heeded them, we’d all be a lot happier and healthier. Some examples: “We must love one another or die.” “Dying is only one thing to be sad over. Living unhappily is something else.” “Money is not a substitute for tenderness.” “Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Don’t wait.” “Imagine there’s a bird on your shoulder and every day you ask it, ‘Is today the day that I die? Am I ready? Am I living the life I want to live? Am I being the person I want to be?’” “Once you know how to die, you know how to live.” See? Simple, maybe even simplistic. But no less true. And Grossman delivers them with such heart, such conviction, we’re swept away. He makes an incredible physical descent as the disease takes hold, seemingly shriveling before our eyes. And when, in the starkest image of the production, Mitch lifts and carries him from chair to bed, it’s a gut-wrenching moment. We do not feel overly manipulated when we weep at his death (his coming back to dance for us is another matter entirely). Mike Sears does a fine job with the much less nuanced (and less interesting) role of Mitch. But he’s aptly brittle and cut off from his feelings. He plays off Morrie very well, and we believe him, even if we don’t like him.
THE PRODUCTION: Scenic designer Marty Burnett and costumer Jeanne Reith have wisely kept things basic and unadorned. Simple outfits, wood paneling, a rotating turntable, a bed, a table. Ellenstein has directed with a light, not over-sentimentalized touch; he encourages the transitions from healthy, vibrant being to frail, child-like dependent in beautifully subtle ways: from cane to walker to wheelchair, lounger to bed. We can all relate to a life cut short too soon; it’s not just about Morrie when all those sniffles fill the room. It’s about everyone each of us has lost and misses and was influenced by. And maybe those memories, along with the words of Morrie, will help make us a little more yielding and cognizant and sensitive after we leave the theater.
THE LOCATION: North Coast Repertory Theatre, through November 19
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
Side Note: I read an article recently that said Morrie Schwartz declined the treatment that could have prolonged his life. Witness Stephen Hawking (same diagnosis). Even with extremely limited mobility and an artificial speech device, he’s managed to continue decades of critical work. It’s a Quality of Life decision.
UP, UP and AWAY
THE SHOW: The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, a new musical comedy/fantasy with book by Peter Ullian, music/lyrics/concept by Robert Lindsey
THE BACKSTORY/THE STORY: The Flight of the Lawnchair Man was originally part of the new musical 3hree, which premiered at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia . That production, directed by the world-renowned Harold Prince, received a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical in the 2000-2001 Philadelphia theatre season , and Flight of the Lawnchair Man was nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play. 3hree was subsequently produced at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles , with Prince once again directing the Lawnchair segment . That production tied with Death of a Salesman for Best of the 2000-2001 L.A. theatre season in an LA Weekly readers’ poll. In 2004, Flight of the Lawnchair Man was part of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s 16th Annual Festival of New Musicals.
The plot concerns geeky, nerdy Jerry Gorman of Passaic , New Jersey . The opening number, following a light, catchy pop-beat overture, is a bouncy homage to suburbanism, “Everything is Perfect in Passaic ”, an Eden-evoking, tongue-in-cheek anthem that includes an exurban alphabet soup of PTA and SUV and LSD. But Jerry doesn’t fit in. He’s single, dyslexic, never went to college, not allowed to drive. He’s still living with his mother and has a menial job at WalMart. He’s unhappy, unfulfilled, searching for his true identity (“It’s like I missed the call when my calling called,” he cleverly sings in “Who is Jerry Gorman?”). His mother is a smothering, demeaning, infantilizing scold. His father, no longer alive, was a dreamer, too, who sat in his lawnchair imagining outrageous inventions. Jerry is ridiculed and denigrated by his neighbors. But Gracie (he’s found his Grace??), the cheerful tollbooth collector on the New Jersey Turnpike, believes in him and supports his lifelong dream of taking flight. Unfortunately, though Jerry quits his job and tries to become a pilot, his left-right confusions are a dangerous detriment. He can’t even be a governmental zero-gravity guinea pig, because his parents were once arrested for a naked political protest. Finally, he decides to tie 400 helium balloons to his father’s lawnchair and lift off. When he’s airborne, he meets up with Leonardo DiVinci and Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, who encourage him to stay up there with them for eternity. Down below, there’s Gracie, and the FBI, ready to apprehend and incarcerate him. Jerry has to choose between soaring aloft and remaining earthbound. His decision is a surprise to all.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The musical is fluffy and light and a little silly, but it has an underlying message about being true to yourself and following your dreams, etc. At SDSU, with a new crop of MFA students in musical theater, director Paula Kalustian has given the show the perfect amount of buoyancy. The set (Jungah Han) is Crayola-colored and whimsical, with cutout clouds and a stylized sun. The lighting (Michael Paolini) is bright and cheerful, the sound design (Matt Lescault-Wood) is imaginative and the costumes (Kelly Convery) are aptly cartoonish, to match the exaggerated, prototypical characters: the neighborhood prankster/meanie (smug, pompous Brandon Maier); the ditsy blonde (winning Maeve Martin) – who ultimately proves more capable than her prankster-pilot cohort; the overbearing mother (Jessica Knowles): the sweet, trusting girlfriend (Cheryl Cline); the nay-saying, officious boss (Daniel Hirsch). The roles are played to the hilt, and sung likewise, backed by ace musical director Terry O’Donnell. Andrew Smith is zhlubbily lovable as poor hapless Jerry and Cline is a knockout as his unquestioning main squeeze. The ensemble is fine, with commendable work from the three air-heads (Leonardo et al.: Joseph Almohaya, Charlie Reuter, Lindsey Gearhart). The show may not be My Fair Lady, but it’s cute and clever and adorably done.
THE LOCATION: Don Powell Theatre on the campus of SDSU, through November 5
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
SYMPHONY IN BLACK AND BLUES
THE SHOW: Seven Guitars, part of the August Wilson Project, a collaboration of San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre and Cygnet Theatre. This is one-tenth of Wilson ’s magnum opus: a cycle that chronicles, decade by decade, the 20th century experience of African Americans. There’s just one more performances of the reading on Monday, Oct. 30. If you’re a serious theater-lover, you shouldn’t miss any of this series.
THE STORY: Set, as most of Wilson ’s cycle, in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, circa 1948. The political/historical backdrop always features prominently in the plays. In the late ‘40s, blacks were just beginning to flex some muscle in this country. They could get medical treatment and make hit records and assert their influence financially. Or at least they think they can. Each of the men onstage has been arrested on trumped-up charges, like loitering and having too little money, or too much. They don’t really trust the whites around them, but some are willing to try; others have given up entirely. All the males (and some of the females) are armed, and there’s a lot of talk of “cutting” and shooting.
At the outset, the friends of Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, a sweet-talking ladies’ man, a singer/guitarist and recent prison inmate, have gathered for a wake following his funeral. From there, it’s a flashback of the days leading up to his demise. In the final scene, he’s reported to have ascended to heaven, borne by six black-hatted men, who are either angels or employees of the funeral parlor, depending on who describes the sighting. In between, we see Floyd come back home for Vera, who’s seriously reluctant, since he up and left her 18 months ago with another woman. Now he’s returned from Chicago , having recorded a big hit, and he’s ready to do it again, with Vera by his side. Vera vacillates. Their friends range from supportive to skeptical. Folks share recipes and childhood rhymes. Eventually, oppression being what it is, things turn ugly and violent. And the ray of hope that Floyd brought, convincing them all to follow their dreams, is extinguished. Nobody really gets what s/he wants, except maybe for Hedley, the conscience of the piece, an off-kilter believer in saints and spirits and the ghost of (Charles) Buddy Bolden, the legendary New Orleans trumpeter who died in an insane asylum. Hedley wants to sire a messiah, and he may just get his wish. Sexy young Ruby, who’s willing to accommodate, makes a return appearance in a later Wilson work, written in 2001 (King Hedley II). It’s not only the rich, deep character portrayals that are striking in this play; it’s the ensemble feel of an improvising septet, the music coursing through it, even in a reading, that makes the piece powerfully compelling.
THE PLAYERS: Rhys Green, artistic director of Black Ensemble Theatre, has assembled an outstanding cast, and they bring all the fire, energy, music and sexuality that the text demands. Anthony Drummond is brashly seductive and irresistible as the dreamer Floyd, and Yolanda Franklin, getting dramatically stronger all the time, is lovely and coy as ever-hopeful Vera, who still believes in the possibility of change. Ida Rhem plays hearty, earthy, no-nonsense Louise with gusto, and her singing is superb (she’ll play the title role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the Project’s December reading). Floyd’s two musical sidemen are portrayed by the formidable, credible Grandison Phelps III as the quick-tempered harmonica player, Canewell, and Walter Murray as the laid-back drummer, Red, who can identify a rooster’s birthplace by his crow. Che Lyons effectively brings the sultry, sexy edge of Louise’s niece, Ruby, to life. Mark Christopher Lawrence has the toughest job, the role of Hedley, a sort of idiot savant who’s turned his back on the white world, and has big plans (to be “a Big Man”). Lawrence attacks the part with ferocity. Don Loper serves well as narrator. The evocation of time and place is palpable, like being immersed in the blues. You don’t need props or scenery. Just lose yourself in the music, the rhythm and the language.
THE LOCATION: Oct. 30 at Horace Mann Middle School ( 4345 54th St , 92115)
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
I caught a matinee performance of Oliver!, the Lionel Bart musical based on Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” The family-friendly show that opened in London in 1960 and in New York in 1963 is now being presented by the *J* Company at the La Jolla JCC. The cast contained 70 kids, from age 7 to 18, including sdtheatrescene’s own Alice Cash, about whom all the backstage mothers were chattering (“Oh! She’s the best!”). Director Joey Landwehr deserves a medal for traffic control alone. The youthful performers are very cute, and some are very talented. Alice is great as nasty, scowling but flirtatious Widow Corney, and she exhibits one of the show’s strongest (and most consistently on-pitch) voices. She also knows how to project. Many of the youngsters, who take classes through the *J* Company program, could use concentrated work on articulation and rate; no matter how much they try to employ lower-class English accents (and for some, that was a lot – like the adorable Artful Dodger, whose dialect was so thick and authentic he was virtually unintelligible), they almost all slurred and/or rushed their words. As Nancy , Jamie Bock is very powerful, both in voice and emotional credibility. Matt Maretz’s Fagin had some wonderful moments, as did Josha Shtein’s colorful Dodger. And as Oliver, 10 year-old Myles Collinson displayed a beautifully clear soprano. There were frequent mic problems, and the fact that only the leads were amplified made the ensemble sound weak, despite their hefty numbers. Musical director Rayme Sciaroni headed a 10-piece orchestra that provided strong backup and some unpredictable arrangements. Prior to the action of the play, it was positively inspired to start with a rousing rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” (“We don’t need no education… Hey! Teacher! Leave us kids alone!”).
Next up for the *J* Company, Yours, Anne, a musicalized version of the “Diary of Anne Frank.” An interesting piece, though it doesn’t seem like something to sing about.
THE LOCATION: The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla , through October 29
CONNECTED AT THE HIP
The SHOW: Side Show, a quirky musical, inspired by the true story of a pair of Siamese twins. Book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Henry Krieger. When it premiered on Broadway in 1997, the show garnered four Tony nominations: Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, and a unique joint nomination for Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner as Best Actress in a Musical for their portrayal of the conjoined Hilton Sisters
THE BACKSTORY: The real Daisy and Violet Hilton were born in Brighton , England in 1908, to a single barmaid named Kate Skinner. They were fused at the pelvis, literally joined at the hip, sharing blood circulation but no major organs. Skinner’s boss, Mary Hilton, apparently saw commercial potential in the girls, and effectively bought them from their mother. In Hilton’s family, they were physically abused, but taught to sing and dance. By age three, they were touring England , and eventually, Europe, Australia and the U.S. They were displayed in sideshows and tightly controlled by the Hiltons, who kept all the money the girls earned. Finally, in 1931, they sued their ‘manager’ (for $100,000) and went on the vaudeville circuit, where they met with success. Offstage, they were far less successful: numerous affairs and a couple of short marriages. In 1932, they starred as themselves in the film, “Freaks.” Eventually, the sisters settled in Miami , and opened a hamburger stand called The Hilton Sisters’ Snack Bar. In the 1950s, they tried Hollywood again, headlining in “Chained for Life.” Their last public appearance was at a drive-in movie theater in Charlotte , North Carolina . Their tour manager abandoned them there, and with no means of transportation or income, they were forced to take a job in a nearby grocery store. On Jan. 6, 1969, they were found dead in their home, victims of the Hong Kong flu. They were 61.
THE STORY: The musical story, told almost entirely in song, focuses on their extraordinary bond and bondage, which brings the twins fame but denies them love. It follows their progress around the vaudeville circuit during the Depression, up to the eve of their Hollywood debut. Along the way, they are consistently victimized by their managers. In the play, the two guys who pluck them from the sideshow and get them into vaudeville have fallen for the sisters, and almost marry them, but then back off, considering themselves “not man enough.” Ironically, the one man who truly loves Violet, their good buddy Jake, is rejected because of the color of his skin. He can’t understand how he can overlook their situation, but they can’t overlook his. Definitely the show’s most discomforting moment, one among many.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The real story of this musical is less biography than social commentary. The eerie, chilling opening number, “Come Look at the Freaks,” isn’t just an exhortation to enter the sideshow. It’s a sardonic condemnation of the weird voyeurs who pay to see these aberrations of nature. That cynical, accusatory edge, which makes the show so much more than a bio of women abused and abandoned, left alone/together, is what makes the musical unique. Unfortunately, that extra layer of meaning was missing from the Premiere Productions impressive effort. But they got just about everything else right. The ambitious company spent gobs of money on sets and costumes, which are elaborate and change frequently. And their investment has already paid off. Director Randall Hickman told me that three schools have already signed up for rentals. And that’s great all around. The tuner is all about Outsiders and acceptance, and who feels more freakish and misunderstood than high schoolers?
Besides snagging the local premiere of the show, Hickman and his partner, co-producer/set designer Douglas Davis (very funny in the cheesy raffle drawing at intermission) also seem to have mounted the first production ever to feature actual twins as the Hilton sisters. Shauna Hart Ostrom and Shelly Hart Breneman are delightful together; both sport strong voices (and degrees in vocal performance) and excellent characterizations: the star-struck, success-oriented, million-dollar-smile Ostrom as the outgoing Daisy and Breneman thoroughly credible as the more subdued Violet, who just wants to be a ‘normal’ homebody. Other standouts in the cast include Shirley Johnston (who doubles as choreographer) as the power-voiced Fortune Teller; Bob Himlin as the sleazy/spooky Boss (who eerily welcomes us like the macabre Emcee in Cabaret); Brian Imoto as Buddy, the likable hoofer/hustler who loves Violet but can’t quite bring himself to marry her; and Jason Maddy as the snaky producer who adores Daisy but won’t let anything get in the way of his quest for money and fame. It’s a sad and tawdry story, with some lovely, touching songs, particularly the two act-closers: “Who Will Love Me As I Am ?” and “I Will Never Leave You.” But the score is often quite difficult to sing (nicely played by musical director/pianist Michael Grant Hall, also known locally as an actor and writer), and not everyone was up to the task, even on closing night. Too short a run, though (only five performances). More San Diegans deserve to see this show; they were lined up down the block to get in for the final performance. Bravo to the Broadway Theatre guys; they’ve taken another big risk, and made it pay off for them – and us.
NEWS AND VIEWS
…Gear up for Election Day in the theater: Check out Gross National Product, a Washington, D.C.-based comedy troupe presenting Son of a Bush at the Theatre in Old Town , 11/2-12, and Todd Blakesley’s interactive Patriot Act: The Trial of George W. Bush, produced by Sledgehammer Theatre, at the 10th Avenue Theatre ,11 /3-26.
…New inhabitants of the 9 year-old Grinch’s Whoville. While the Green Meanie is premiering on Broadway this fall, the local, Old Globe production boasts a new cast. Broadway/Of-Broadway veteran Jay Goede plays the fuzzy one, while local funnyman Ryan Drummond takes on the role of Young Max, the frisky dog. Old Max will be played by Kevin Bailey. Eileen Bowman is back as Grandma Who and James Vasquez plays Grandpa Seth Who. Reprising her role as Cindy-Lou Who is adorable Mackenzie Holmes, who will alternate with Skylar Starrs Siben. Bibi Valderrama (the Rep’s former Tiny Tim) and Ari Lerner (his 4th year with the Grinch) will also be in the cast, as will the ubiquitous Randall Dodge, among many others.
.. Speaking of the Globe, the theater kicks off the holiday season with its first annual tree lighting. Audrey Geisel (“Mrs. Dr. Seuss”) will pull the “Seuss-Switch,” and members of the Grinch cast will sing holiday carols. STAR 94.1 radio personality Hilary will be on hand to play holiday tunes, free beverages will be provided by Starbucks and snow will fall on the Globe plaza. It all takes place at 5:30pm on Nov. 12.
…Also on the 12th (at 2pm), there are still some seats available for The Far Side of Fifty, words of wisdom and humor from 14 women, age 58-88 (my mother’s the 88; my sister’s the producer, and June Gottlieb and Trina Kaplan are in the cast, too!). At the La Jolla JCC. lfjcc.org.
… There’s still time to get tix to see/hear the incomparable Brian Stokes Mitchell. The blockbuster Broadway baritone is doing a benefit performance for his alma mater, San Diego Junior Theatre. At Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, Nov. 18. For tix and info: 619-239-8355; www.juniortheatre.com .
… Our newest theatrical Ph.D., teacher/director Katie Rodda, is opening a new show this weekend at Cal State San Marcos. It’s Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire (acclaimed writer of the funny/sad Kimberley Akimbo). Katie describes it as “a wild ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel of laughs” that includes a gargantuan jar of peanut butter. Oct. 27, 28 Nov. 3-4 at 8pm. For reservations: 760-750-4137.
… Don’t forget all the goings-on the night before Halloween: It’s the last night to see Seven Guitars, part of the August Wilson project co-produced by San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre and Cygnet Theatre (at Horace Mann Middle School , 7:30pm). The Chronos group (formerly Grassroots Greeks), is presenting Aeschylus ’ Agamemnon (on the New World Stage, 7:30pm) as a memorial tribute to Kurt Reichert. Robert Dahey directs the creepy stalker play, Boy Gets Girl, for Carlsbad Playreaders (at the Carlsbad Library, 7:30pm). And North Coast Rep offers the latest in their New Works series: Moonglow, by Kim Carney, with a cast that features Jim Chovick and Equity actors Susan Denaker and Kathryn Venverloh, among others (7pm at NCRT).
… Last week I mentioned Nipples in the Wind; this week’s provocative title is Slut, a one-woman show written and performed by Canadian-born San Diego resident Brenda McFarlane. Developed for HBO’s Comedy Workshop, the piece went on to be a hit at the Fringe of Toronto, where EYE Magazine said it “delicately balances humor with an urgent questioning of gender and moral codes in a hypocritical society – and delivers amply on both counts.” Slut was produced at L.A. ’s Edgefest, before it traveled south to settle into 6th @ Penn Theatre. SDSU MFA alum Susan Hammons, a versatile local performer (AART’s But Can He Dance ? , Lambs’ Tarantara! Tarantara!, and her own one-woman play, Contemplating the Bag), plays Matilda, arrested for prostitution and trying to take control of her life. The 60-minute show runs Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30pm, starting Nov. 10 (no shows on holiday weekends).
.. Lots doing at Schroeder’s Club and Cabaret. The 2nd anniversary celebration is this Friday, Oct. 27, featuring singer/songwriter/pianoman extraordinaire, Todd Schroeder, who’ll be joined by Wendy Tuttle and Kevin Fisher. This is Todd’s only SD performance this year. Don’t miss it. And don’t forget Sandy Campbell and G. Scott Lacy on Nov. 3 and Angelo D’Agostino on Nov. 4. www.eventbrite.com/event
… This week, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund PAC issued its Congressional Arts Report Card on the House of Representatives (2005-2006). Forty-one House Members received the highest possible grade (A+), a 24% increase from the report issued in 2004. But the average grade for the House remained a B, based on voting record on specific arts and arts education policy issues. The greatest weight was given to three votes on funding the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). On the plus side of the results, the Report Card shows that arts support is increasingly bipartisan. Unfortunately, the California delegation ranked 21st. Number 1 was Vermont (and was in 2004, too); #2 was Maine and Hawaii was #3. If you want to see the grades of individual Representatives, go to www.artsactionfund.org .
… Take a trip, help a theater. The Community Actors Theatre is sponsoring a 3-day Mexican Cruise as a fundraiser for the renovation of their theater. July 20-23, departing from Long Beach . To book, go to: www.communityactorstheatretravel.com ; click on Groups, then YTB Cruise Signup. This week is the deadline to reserve your place.
… World on a string… Mainly Mozart wraps up its year-long celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday – the largest in North America – with the San Diego premiere of the world-famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre in The Magic Flute, on Nov. 4 at the Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre. There’s an hour-long 2pm performance for the kids and a full-length 7pm performance for the Big Kids. Founded in 1913, the theater company is particularly associated with the works of Salzburg ’s most celebrated son, and includes the five great Mozart operas in its repertoire. www.mainlymozart.org
…Quotable quote from Nathan Lane : He said his only professional disappointment thus far in the New Millennium was the 2005 film version of “The Producers,” which earned an underwhelming $19.5million in domestic box office. Lane called it “the most expensive Lincoln Center archive recording ever done.”
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Critic’s Picks)
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Seven Guitars – a wonderful reading, part of a stellar series, filled with music and passion and excellent performances
At Horace Mann Middle School ( 4345 54th St , 92115) , Oct. 30
Tuesdays with Morrie – a touching tear-jerker, featuring a thrilling performance by Robert Grossman
At North Coast Repertory Theatre, through November 19
The Flight of the Lawnchair Man – sweet, light new musical, buoyantly presented
SDSU’s Don Powell Theatre, through November 5
Since Africa – thought-provoking story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, superbly performed by an outstanding ensemble that includes a Lost Boy of Sudan
Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company at Diversionary Theatre, through October 29
Miss Witherspoon – screamy and silly at times, but very well acted and metaphysically magical and intriguing
At the San Diego Repertory Theatre, through October 29
Hemingway’s Rose – more a showcase than a fully fleshed-out play, but the comic, chameleon performance of Ted Reis is totally worth seeing
Late night Fridays (10:30) and mid-afternoons Saturdays (4pm) at 6th @ Penn Theatre, through October 28
Middle-Aged White Guys – fanciful and fantastical, but biting and satirical, too; very well acted and directed
Weekends at 6th @ Penn Theatre, through November 8
Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell – they’re wild and wacky, but their crazy/antic/silly agit-prop theater has a lot to say
At the La Jolla Playhouse, through October 29
Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit – LAST CHANCE! CLOSING October 29. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW! Hilarious spoofs, featuring an amazing, multi-talented cast of alums of the SDSU MFA program in musical theatre. Catch ‘em before they head to New York .
At the Theatre in Old Town , through October 29
In honor of Halloween, why not put on a costume and go to the theater (everyone onstage has one!).
© 2006 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.