By Pat Launer
Consider the Fritz Blitz Week #3
And Urinetown, where you pay to pee.
Leading Ladies have actors’ neurosis
Poor Sarah had 4.48 Psychosis.
A PRIVILEGE TO PEE, UH, SEE
THE SHOW: Urinetown, the Tony Award-winning musical (Best Book: Greg Kotis, Best Score: Mark Hollmann; both wrote lyrics) about having to pay to pee; it closes Starlight’s 60th anniversary season with the regional theater premiere. This was the ultimate Fringe success, moving up to Broadway just after 9/11 and managing to help in the healing, banding folks together for a grim laugh at the country’s grimmest of times. And here it is again, right on cue, at the 5th anniversary of the World Trade Tower disaster.
THE STORY: Talk about your potty humor. It’s all in the toilet. There’s been a 20-year drought and the situation has gotten desperate. Private facilities have been outlawed. Everyone has to pay for “The Privilege to Pee.” The manipulative, mercenary mega-corp, UGC (Urine Good Hands) has a monopoly on the outhouses and it’s gouging the public. Bobby Strong is mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it any more; enough people have been banished to Urinetown, never to be seen again. Bobby leads a people’s revolution (replete with goopy anthems). The Big Bad Boss is ousted, and his naïve daughter, Hope, takes over. Hope had loved Bobby, even after he kidnapped her and used her as collateral in making a deal and changing the situation for everyone… just before he was carted off to the fabled Urinetown (“the place, not the musical,” a distinction repeatedly made in the show). But the romantic lead isn’t gone; he makes repeat appearances to sing intentionally, often amusingly, trite songs of love and freedom – from the sky. The show is dark, irreverent, snarky and irresistibly funny. It laughs at musical theater and at its own expense. Little Sally serves as the Observer, Conscience, Greek Chorus and Commentator. She’s the one who seriously questions the title and content of the show, and helps propel the action. Officer Lockstock is our host/narrator, and he’s got a sidekick, of course: Barrel (get it? Lockstock and Barrel). The humor isn’t always of the highest brow, but its sarcastic, mocking tone is often really funny. You get sucked right into its psycho swirl. The songs are much more sprightly than the cynical theme, and the lyrics are often witty and punny. And amid the swipes at everything from corporate greed to environmentalism to popular uprisings, there is Lockstock’s ingenuous defense of the proceedings: “Don’t you think people wanna be told their way of life is unsustainable?” Take that seriously, if you can stop chuckling long enough.
THE PLAYERS/PRODUCTION: The production is delicious (ugh; is that an icky thing to say for a show with this title and theme?). Co-directors Brian Wells and David Brannen have done a stellar job; the casting is impeccable and the tone is flawless, too. It’s gotta be sarcastic without be too snarky, insider-ish and self-congratulatory. Bravo on all counts. Brannen’s choreography is lively and aptly referential: there’s a little Fosse in there, and Threepenny Opera. And something reminiscent of Fiddler and Les Miz and A Chorus Line. Funny, satiric stuff. And well executed by the cast of 21. Doug Bilitch is a hoot as Lockstock, as are all his interactions with the knockout Sarah Sumner as Little Sally. Nobody but Leigh Scarritt could hit the stratospheric notes in the Pennywise solo, “A Privilege to Pee.” Kurt Norby has just the right amount of earnestness as Bobby Strong, despite the often inane lyrics he has to sing (especially from beyond the grave; “I’ve lost my sense of smell??”). His romantic duet with Carly Nykanen (“Follow Your Heart”) is a treacly little valentine, shot through with sarcasm; she’s perfect with her wide-eyed literalism and naiveté. Big-voiced Norman Large, who loomed large on Starlight’s stage as Sweeney Todd, shows his delightful comic side and his soft-shoe expertise, as the mercenary, megalomaniacal Caldwell B. Cladwell, Chief pee-control-freak of UGC. He is riotous, especially in one of my personal favorites, “Don’t Be the Bunny,” where he expounds his nefarious philosophy to his henchmen (“Right behind ya, Boss!”). The singing is superb; kudos to musical director Parmer Fuller, who also conducts the five-piece ensemble and plays piano. The woodwinds and trombone are an excellent addition, but the overall musical sound is a little thin at times, and there are still those pesky mic problems that recur endlessly at Starlight.
The set (Todd Kimmel) is serviceable, and the costumes (supervised by Ria Carey; does that mean folks furnished their own?) are wonderfully character-defining (accent on rags for the poor, spiffy outfits with spats for the wealthy, etc.). The fine lighting (by the ubiquitous Eric Lotze) has that noir sewer sensibility, except in the Cladwell empire , where the sun is always shining.
This is a unique, off-the-wall, thoroughly entertaining production. Starlight took a risk and it’s paid off, big time. Just get over the title and go! (If you gotta go, you gotta go!).
THE LOCATION: Starlight Bowl, through September 17
BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
Addendum: Pig Farm, the latest work by Urinetown co-creator Greg Kotis, opens next week at the Old Globe.
THE SHOW: Leading Ladies, the latest farcical effort by Ken Ludwig, who specializes in comedic theatrical valentines (Lend Me a Tenor; Moon Over Buffalo ). To inaugurate its 25th anniversary season, North Coast Repertory Theatre snagged the West coast premiere; the show first appeared at Houston ’s Alley Theatre in 2004, directed by the author
THE STORY: This is a very old-fashioned play, and it harks back to even older works. Noel Coward, for instance. Or William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night) and cinematically speaking, “Some Like it Hot .” Throw in The Foreigner and Charley’s Aunt for good measure. Oh boy, is it ever silly. You have to get past the inanity (and the first act) to appreciate the insanity. Then you can really let go and guffaw. Here’s the setup:
Two English Shakespearean actors are so washed up they’re playing the backwaters and Moose Lodges of America. On a train outside York , Pennsylvania , they learn of an old lady who’s about to die and plans to leave her fortune to her two long-lost English nephews, Max and Steve. They get the scoop from a ditsy blonde who knows the dowager, and they high-tail it into town, only to find that Max and Steve are short for Maxine and Stephanie. So, they do the requisite drag thang, cobbling together outrageous outfits from their portable Shakespearean costume shop and off they go – one of them falling in love with said blonde, who has a moronic mien, and the other with the matriarch’s niece, who’s engaged to a most uptight, unsavory minister. Toss in a coupla Moose-men and you’ve got yourself a cast of caricatures that equates to a super-sized Ham sandwich.
THE PLAYERS/PRODUCTION: Guest director John Seibert, an instructor at Easter Michigan University , has pushed the mayhem aptly over the top. But at the outset, at least on opening night, everyone was working and trying too hard and the strain was showing. Things settled down enough so they could really rev up in the second act, when the madness gets way out of control, and so does your laughter. Phil Johnson pretty much yelled through the first act, but in the second, he was hilarious, changing in and out of his male/female costumes; in one case, he was half-one, half the other, half in/half out of a door. Side-splitting. Matt Thompson is his perfect foil; a hunky, handsome, agile straight-man, who’s very very funny in a more subtle way. Delectable. Jeannine Marquie is, as always, adorable, playing the unworldly ingénue, very ‘50s (little plaid shirtwaist and all, thanks to Jeanne Reith’s consistently comical costumes). Max Macke, who shone in the big comic Shakespearean roles at Poor Players (Falstaff and Sir Toby Belch – but that was when he was a lot bigger himself) is now trimmed down, but his comedy still outsized, especially when he tries to perform the theater warmup exercises which render him moronically simian. And as his sidekick, no one chewed more scenery, or seemed to be having a better time, than Marty Burnett, NCRT’s resident set designer. Not only is he out in the audience, kibitzing, as a fez-wearing Moose, but he plays a lecherous, ham-fisted (yup, it’s the ham again!) doctor who repeatedly thinks the sickly old bat is dead when she isn’t. That feisty biddy is played to a T by Sally Stockton, though she never for a moment looks to be anywhere near death’s door. As ballast for all this ridiculousness, there’s stalwart John Herzog as the malicious, mercenary minister.
The drawing-room setting (designed by Burnett), all eye-popping peacock blue and dusty pink, is finely furnished and detailed for the period (prop/set dressing by Bonnie Durben). Chris Luessmann’s sound is entertaining, too. Leave your brain at home for this one; but feel free to bring your funnybone.
THE LOCATION: North Coast Repertory Theatre, through October 8
BRUTALITY AT THE BLITZ
THE SHOW: Week 3 of the 13TH ANNUAL FRITZ BLITZ OF NEW PLAYS BY CALIFORNIA PLAYWRIGHTS , featured three plays, two by local writers, once again thematically linked (good pairings by Fritz artistic director Duane Daniels), and very well executed. That may be the operative word, since they all had to do with death or dismemberment. Dark fare, indeed.
Pieces , by Cuauhtéhmoc Q. Kish, is a brutal little epistolary love story. Veddy Victorian. With baroque language. It starts out suggestive of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning: The pale, ailing, housebound soul and her robust, poetic love. But then it devolves. She won’t see him; she’s been maimed. We get a vague allusion to an accident. She’s lost an arm and both legs. The pair write/read streams of florid, adoring letters. But their love is unconsummated. Finally, he sends her a gift of himself, something to put under her pillow: it’s the ring finger on which he, like his beloved, won’t ever be able to put a wedding band. And it goes disturbingly, destructively downhill from there, until they meet at last, body-doubles in matching wheelchairs, to seal their love with a pistol. Pleasant little diversion. The story is grim and grisly, and a bit overwritten, but Rob Conway and Michelle Procopio bring it to vibrant, aching life, however grotesque the relationship may be. Nicely directed by David J. Kelso.
Next up was True Blue by Mary Steelsmith, she who saw fit to pull her full-length play from the Blitz at the last minute. As directed by Alysha Haran, making her local directing debut, the scene setup established the mood of the piece. A table was placed center-stage, and a huge swath of masking tape was run straight down the middle, from wall to floor, over the table, dramatically applied with those loud, characteristic snap-fwap noises. The borderline was demarcated. Then two soldiers in fatigues, one Blue, one Green, entered and patrolled their little piece of turf, marching back and forth, mirroring each other’s moves, guarding their ridiculous, arbitrary indoor boundary-line. They try out new steps, taunt each other (“You Greens, masters of distraction; we Bluebloods…”). The Blue Soldier has been avoiding combat; he conned his way into this pointless, cushy job in a border guard house, and he’s about to be released. The Green Soldier has been banished to this hinterland. He’s seen far too much action; his village and family were destroyed. Blue wants to borrow his war-story, since he doesn’t have one of his own. Green suggests they cross the line, just once, just this last time, to see the world the way the other sees it. They switch sides, then clothes. And because “all soldiers look alike,” they switch lives. Blue has been duped; Green will be free. His parting words are “Pray for Peace.” The play is taut and well written, excellently acted. But the fact that one soldier was Vietnamese and one Caucasian skewed the story, made us think of a particular war, not a generic one. And these two soldiers aren’t exactly interchangeable. But Diep Huynh, a pleasure to see back onstage again, had already memorized many pages of Steelsmith’s other script (the one she rescinded). And so he stayed on. William Regan also did an outstanding job; they were ideal foils for each other. But this experience has left a bad taste, no matter how skillful the playwright; her judgment, professionalism and ethics remain in question.
The post-intermission piece, Meet the Family, was penned by local playwright Thelma Virata de Castro and directed by Anne Tran. In “a major metropolitan city,” a young girl brings a male friend to meet her Filipino folks. But this isn’t a nice beau or a pleasant visit. He’s the objective observer and “facilitator.” Belinda has come to confront her filthy-rich parents, to tear down their pretentious assimilation façade. They are in total denial of their heritage and immigrant beginnings, while Belinda is committed to social activism majoring in third world studies. She challenges her father, who owns sweatshops and operates a variety of shady businesses, including “human trafficking.” But it’s her mother, a supercilious, French-spouting phony, who is holding all the reins, and she grows in monstrous bitchiness by the minute. “Behind your smile,” Belinda says, “You’re ruthless, sadistic.” And it’s worse than we imagine. By the end, the father has been stripped down to his bare essentials (literally). And the mother shows her cold-blooded venom, by making a back-room deal with Belinda’s lawyer-friend to do away with “the monkey,” the pejorative term for unassimilated immigrants. At times amusing, the piece gets darker and darker, and ends quite disturbingly. Tran has directed with deft sensitivity. And the cast is excellent. As the father, Dave Park is calmly arrogant, until he is reduced to a puddle. Sylvia Enrique is smarmily affected and cloying, until she bears her fangs near the end. Nick Mata is quite credible as the lawyer, and Tara Ricasa, a recent UCLA theater graduate, is terrific as Belinda – by turns antic, confrontational, angry, hurt. The play has loose ends untied; there are unnecessary or unexplained details. For example, what’s the point of telling us that the lawyer can’t eat in public? His poverty? His vulnerability to corruption? Unclear. There are other questions that remain. But the situation and the play are harrowing; with some tweaks and fixes, it will make a captivating play.
THE LOCATION: Lyceum Theatre, through September 17
THE SHOW: 4.48 Psychosis , the San Diego premiere of Sarah Kane’s dark suicidal contemplation
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: Like Crave, presented a few months ago at Lynx Performance Theatre, 4.48 Psychosis gets inside the head of a depressive. The title refers to the golden hour of mental clarity, just before dawn. That’s when the body’s chemical imbalance is at its peak and there’s a moment of sanity and lucidity. This is the time when suicide is decided upon, according to British playwright Sarah Kane, who ought to know. In 1999, shortly after writing this play, she killed herself, at age 28. Her own story is as disturbing as her plays: She swallowed 150 anti-depressants and 50 sleeping pills, which she survived only because her flat-mate found her in time and rushed her to King’s College Hospital . Two days later, she was left alone for 90 minutes, and was later discovered in a restroom, hanging by her shoelaces.
In this piece, she grapples with her pain and the arguments for and against terminating her life. It’s been played as a solo (Isabelle Huppert recently did a run in Paris and on each American coast, entirely in French; this material is tough enough to listen to in your own language). Stone Soup founder/artistic director Rebecca Johannsen has chosen to present the play as it was originally done in 2000, with three actors. There are no characters listed in the text, but some words play very well in a man’s voice, representing a prototype, a pathetically unhelpful, ineffectual psychiatrist. The women, dressed dichotomously in white and black, represent the dark and slightly lighter side, one that still holds a tiny ray of hope, the part of this woman that still craves love, understanding, connection . She’s grappling with herself, for her mortal soul. Going over and over the pros and cons of ending it all; the reasons to stay, the irresistible desire to go under. It’s painful to listen to, but the language is rich and jagged, angular and lyrical. Beautiful in its sad, desperate, aching way.
THE PLAYERS/PRODUCTION: Brave, risk-taking Johannsen continues to choose challenging plays and bring them to life in interesting ways. Her cast and direction are provocative. It’s all very dark (lighting by Crystal Watts) and suggestive, with a two-tiered black floor, two slatted screens and a row of stones marking a downstage boundary (set by Valerie Steele). The women wear drapey, diaphanous gowns (costumes by Markee Rambo Hood, whose work will be seen next in Lyric Opera’s Don Pasquale), with dirt-stained feet and legs, as if they’ve already been down beyond the stones, waded into the deep, à la Virginia Woolf, and then decided against it. Perhaps they thought they could wrestle agonize a bit more onshore. Jonathan Seaman did the projections, which provide welcome visual relief, and Eveoke’s Ericka Aisha Moore, increasingly spreading her talents around town, undertakes both the sound design and the choreography; excellent job with both. The movements augment the agonizing words in often beautiful stage pictures. Olivia Espinosa (dressed in black) and Therese Schneck (in white) are attractive counterparts, clearly articulating Kane’s gut-wrenching words, without excess emotion. Steve Hohman offers the voice of so-called reason, the inept Man of Science and the Mind. This is Johannsen’s directing debut. As she completes her Ph.D. in Theatre from UC Irvine, here’s hoping she devotes more time to stretching this prodigious part of her brain.
LOCATION: Stone Soup Theatre at the 10th Avenue Theatre, through Sept. 17.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet, if you can handle it.
North Coast Rep was host to a spectacular reading of Lanford Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, Talley’s Folly, a benefit for the new Tonic Theatre. Tonic co-founder Amy Biedel, whom local audiences will remember as an estimable Eliza in Cygnet’s spring production of My Fair Lady, was perfectly Southern standoffish as Sally Talley, the unmarried 30-something who’s the family pariah. She displayed an impressive range of emotional color, from humor to anger to pain. Ultimately, though, the play belongs to Matt. And David Ellenstein was born to play the role. There’s got to be a way to have him portray this character in a fully fleshed-out production, though the reading was immensely satisfying. David had just the right accent and Jewish demeanor. Just the right balance of wit, insecurity, intelligence, self-deprecation, romance and hope. His performance was flawless, and really must be replicated soon. North Coast Rep did the show eight years ago, before David arrived, so it’s too soon to repeat it. Maybe under the banner of Tonic Theatre… Amy certainly seemed willing. As if that dynamic pairing weren’t enough, the director du jour was one of San Diego ’s greatest treasures, Rick Seer of the Old Globe. Max talent all around.
Btw, if you aren’t a fan of readings, you really ought to give them a try. They are a wonderful way to experience a play (Craig Noel always says, ‘ You don’t go to see a play; you go to hear a play’). The work is pared down to its essence –the text. There are no set, lighting or costume distractions; it’s just the language and the interactions. After a few minutes, you suspend all disbelief, forget they’re even reading. If it’s a good play and if it’s well done, it’s a thrilling experience.
Third time’s a charm? Well, nearly. I wanted to see the all-SDSU/MFA cast of Forbidden Broadway: SVU. And I did. Except there were two understudies. They were outstanding, but I guess I’ll have to go back yet again to see Nick and Rebecca Spear don the multiple characters and costumes of this hilarious show. Kristen Mengelkoch has settled into her new roles; she’s now doing all the big, belt-‘em numbers, from Annie to Ethel Merman, Sarah Brightman, at which she is absolutely hilarious, to Carol Channing (a hoot) and that good/bad, green witchy woman, Idina Menzel. She really has become a musical mega-talent, and soon, our loss will be New York ’s (maybe even Broadway’s) gain. But meanwhile, she’s here and she’s uproarious, so don’t miss her. Matt Weeden is officially in the cast now, and he’s really funny, too, especially good with the Avenue Q puppets and the ultra-funny Les Miz solo, “Too High,” not to mention his portrayals of The Phantom and a dead-on Tim Curry (Spamalot). For it being only their third night in the show, Eric Vest and Jamie Kalama were great. He was amazing as gravel-voiced Harvey Fierstein and he may be the best performer ever as the memory-impaired Robert Goulet. Jamie, who’s just finishing her MFA at SDSU, was super in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang spoof, as Yoko Ono and as Rita Moreno to Kristen’s Chita Rivera. This ensemble was noticeably better than the second cast ( New York players plus Kristen Mengelkoch) that came through a month of so ago. And apparently, some of the changes made here have been incorporated into the New York production. Still, the first act remains faster and funnier than the second. But there are innumerable laughs all along the way.
NOTE: Cris O’Bryon leaves the show this Sunday, and Bill Doyle begins tickling the ivories next Tuesday. The Spears will be back onstage next Wednesday.
NEWS AND VIEWS
… Time to speak up for the theater you believe in. New Village Arts is asking for supporters to show up at the Carlsbad City Council meeting to show support for a new home for the theater in the heart of Carlsbad village. The meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 6 pm at Carlsbad City Hall (Council Chambers) , 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive . And next month (Oct. 11), you can stop in to see their new space at an Open House they’re calling Extreme Makeover: Theatre Edition, which is intended to entice folks to become part of their new (ad)venture. NVA promises fun, food, drink, music and a sneak peek at their upcoming, all-star production of Crimes of the Heart.
… Eveoke Dance Theatre, ever leaning toward social activism, is ‘taking it to the table,’ with A Dance Action for Peace. “Get war off our children’s bodies and off our earth and onto the diplomatic table where it belongs,” they claim. “And include women and mothers at the table. Treat nuclear proliferation, war and global warming the same: as equal threats to our children. Let us dance together for peace.” The action takes place on September 22, “around Copley Symphony Hall” (7th & B), to “celebrate the voice and leadership of Ani Difranco, and to bring attention to her message.” Eveoke is working in cooperation with Elevate Dance Troupe, O.R.G.A.N.I.C Collection, Radio ACTIVE Radio, Insurgent Rebel Clown Army and Puppet Insurgency. It all happens at noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 7pm. For info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org ; 619-238-1153
… Acclaimed, iconoclastic playwright Mac Wellman is appearing LIVE in San Diego , courtesy of Ruff Yeager’s new Vox Nova Theatre Company. Wellman’s plays that have been seen in San Diego : 7 Blowjobs, A Murder of Crows, Albanian Softshoe, Sincerity Forever and Terminal Hip. “A conversation with Mac Wellman” will be a kind of town-hall discussion with the three-time Obie Award winner, focused on acting, directing and playwriting in the contemporary American theater. Theaterlovers won’t want to miss this opportunity. At downtown’s New World Stage, 7pm on Sunday, Sept. 24. Reserve tix ($20) at 619-374-6894. Then, on Monday, Sept. 25 at 7pm in the Lyceum, there will be readings of two of Mac’s latest plays, Three Americanisms and Psychology, or Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood. Be there!
…Don’t forget to check into The Far Side of Fifty, words of wisdom, poignance and humor from 14 women, age 58-88 (my mother’s the 88). Both the September 30 (2pm) presentation at the Avo Playhouse in Vista and the November 12 presentation at the La Jolla JCC, are benefit performances. For the Avo: call 760-724-2110 or vistixonline.com; for the JCC appearance, contact Hewitt at email@example.com ; after 10/2, go to lfjcc.org.
… Shawn Ryan, who appeared on NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent,’ currently on tour with his group, will be making a brief stop at Schroeder’s Club and Cabaret for two shows only, on Saturday, October 7. Get ready for an evening of jazz, cabaret and comedy.
…Humbug! The complete cast has been announced for the New York production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but not the local cast. On Broadway, Patrick Page (who played Beauty’s Lumière and The Lion King’s Scar on Bway) will play the Green Meanie, and Tony Award-winner John Cullum steps in as Old Max. Rusty Ross will play Young Max, as he has since the first San Diego production in 1998. There won’t be any San Diegans in the Broadway production; let’s hope the local cast is exclusively local.
Big Night for Readings : Monday, Sept. 18 is a theater triple-header. Choose yer poison: The Glass Menagerie, starring Sandy Ellis-Troy and Joshua Everett Johnson, at Carlsbad Playreaders; Chronos’ reading of Gilgamesh at New World Stage. And also that night, Diversionary has a special Monday performance of Gaytino! All at 7:30pm.
Updates from San Diegans present and past…
..Trina Kaplan thought she was backing off from the theater, but she’s busier than ever. She’s appearing in The Far Side of Fifty (Sept. 30 and Nov. 12), gearing up for The Crucible, a USD MFA/Globe production in the Cassius Carter (directed by David Hay, with whom she worked on “Ballroom” at the old JCC in the 1980s), which runs October 24-29 and in November, she opens in the ion theatre production of The Grapes of Wrath. “I thought I was out to pasture,” says Trina, “but one never knows, does one?” One never do .
… Speaking of staying busy, classics scholar and philanthropist Dr. Marianne McDonald had quite a whirlwind summer – in Ireland , England and South Africa . She gave sold-out talks at Oxford and at Trinity College , where they gave a Festschrift in her honor. They aptly titled this collection of essays by colleagues, playwrights and distinguished scholars “Rebel Women: Staging Ancient Greek Drama Today.” Also in Ireland , she was part of a sold-out panel on ‘The Future of Greek Tragedy,’ which included Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney. She and internationally renowned playwright Athol Fugard did several SRO readings of their Medea, The Beginning… Jason, The End, with which they recently graced appreciative local audiences at 6th @ Penn Theatre. Marianne just finished a new translation of Seneca’s Thyestes and is co-editing “The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre .” This quarter at UCSD, she’s teaching a graduate course on ‘Opera and the Classics,’ and her undergrad class is ‘Performing History in Theatre, Myth and Film.’ And you think you’re busy?? Oh, yes, and Marianne is also busting her buttons about having has eight grandchildren. Now that’s an accomplishment!
…Playwright Jim Caputo reports that his one-act, Body Shop, which has been seen locally at the Actors Festival and the Fritz Blitz, has been selected from 600 entries to be part of the “Notes from the Underground Festival” in Manhattan (10/25-29). It will be given a full production next month at Where Eagles Dare Theatre in New York . But the question is , will they be able to match the performances of that delightful duo, Pat DiMeo and Rachael Van Wormer?
… Actor/director Joey Landwehr has just been named to San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s seventh annual “40 Under Forty” honor roll, a listing of outstanding young leaders. Joey says he’s “terribly excited about this honor, and proud to be representing the arts in San Diego , after living here for only 3 ½ years.” He still appears onstage from time to time, but most of his energy is devoted to directing the *J* Company Youth Theatre at the La Jolla JCC, teaching and directing children age 7-18. “My favorite place in the world is in a room of young actors.” Seems like he’s just where he wants to be.
…News from Walt Jones and Amy Scholl. He was the head of the directing program at UCSD (recruited to the school in 1985, where he also served as head of the acting program and then department chair. Amy was a member of the UCSD faculty, too. Together, they helmed a marvelous series of readings at Carlsbad Playreaders. Now, with a baby on the way, they’ve relocated to be near family, in Ft. Collins , CO , where Walt is director of the Theater Division at Colorado State University . Funny how you don’t really find out all about someone till he’s no longer around. Here’s what I just discovered about Walt (verrry impressive): he directed twice on Broadway: the thriller, Sleight of Hand, and the Drama Desk Award-nominated musical, The 1940s Radio Hour, which he also wrote. He directed six productions Off Broadway and the world premieres of play by Lanford Wilson, Naomi Iizuka, José Rivera, Arthur Kopit, David Mamet and Christopher Durang. He also taught and directed at his alma mater, the Yale School of Drama. He’s directed heavy-hitters such as Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, Frances McDormand, Kate Burton, Jason Alexander, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. Now I’ve got so many questions about this amazing array of experiences, I’ll just have to fire them off by email. Both Walt and Amy will be sorely missed in the SD theater community, but of course, we wish them well. Walt’s Radio Hour sequel, A 1940s Christmas Carol, will be reprised this December (12/4-5) at Carlsbad Playreaders; it was a two-performance sellout last year.
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Critic’s Picks)
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Urinetown – it may be all about pee but it’s pee -your-pants funny
At Starlight Theatre, through September 17
4.48 Psychosis – definitely not for everyone, but for anyone who can go deep into the depressive, suicidal psyche. Imaginatively directed and acted
Stone Soup Theatre at the 10th Avenue Theatre, through September 17
Leading Ladies – incredibly silly, but inescapably funny (especially in the second act)
At North Coast Repertory Theatre, through October 8
Copenhagen – deep, profound, important and impeccably acted
At Cygnet Theatre, through September 24.
Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit – hilarious spoofs, now featuring an all-San Diego cast (all alums of the SDSU MFA program in musical theatre). Get ‘em while they’re hot!
At the Theatre in Old Town , ongoing
Titus Andronicus – a lot of political references and many laughs along with the gore; as director Darko Tresnjak puts it, his production is “bloody good fun!” It’s inventive and terrific
In repertory on the Globe’s Festival Stage, through September 30
Othello – potent production. robustly acted and directed
In repertory on the Globe’s Festival Stage, through October 1
It’s almost officially autumn … so Fall into a theater near you!
© 2006 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.