By Pat Launer
Trashy White Guys and hip black chicks,
Hemingway’s Rose and Trolley’s last kicks.
And also, don’t say I didn’t warn ya’:
Zorro’s back in California .
CRAZY LIKE A FOX
THE SHOW: Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell, the Chicano crazies’ latest nutty/political creation (an actual play, with a plot!), part of a trilogy about The Golden State. This is a world premiere, co-produced and -commissioned by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: If there’s a cultural or local reference Culture Clash omitted, I can’t think of it. They threw in everything from Chula Vista to Costco, Tupac to FEMA, NPR to Southwestern College , dramaturges to lesbian drum circles, Noam Chomsky to Pottery Barn, Trader Joe to Injun Joe, Bush, Cheney, Nietzsche, Hummers and the Gubanador. The latter is pretty much the enemy, as an unsuccessful writer (Richard Montoya) struggles to find his muse and his cultural identity through the myth and legend of Zorro. In the meantime, he not only becomes Zorro (the show’s political/inspirational message is “Somos todos Zorro,” we are all Zorro), but at the end, he encourages all of us to “Rise Up!” ( ‘Spartacus’ -like) and defend the underdog – not to mention Rising Up “for properly executed agit-prop theater.” And it is, indeed. Very much in the spirit of Luis Valdez’ El Teatro Campesino and the San Francisco Mime Troupe (the lone female addition, the talented Sharon Lockwood, is a veteran of that acclaimed group), the show is also admittedly inspired by August Wilson , “Dante’s Inferno,” and the films “ Alice in Wonderland,” “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Being John Malkovich.” It’s by turns wild and crazy, fanciful and imaginative, smutty and sex-obsessed, hilarious and ridiculous, supremely silly, base and over-the-top, inspiring and politically motivating. There’s a serious undertone, too: about the State of the Union , about “who’s a hero and who’s a terrorist.” About who’s a Californian. And the need we all have for a mythic hero.
The original Zorro, created in 1919 by pulp fiction writer Johnston McCulley, was inspired by “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and in turn inspired Batman and other dual-identity fighters of injustice (Superman, et al.). There’s gotta be something in this show for everyone… though it might not all be to anyone’s taste. (The Clash even takes potshots at Republican Rancho Santa Fe residents, which didn’t go down all that easily on opening night).
THE PRODUCTION: You’ve gotta just go with the insanity when it comes to Culture Clash. They’re so wacky and off-the-wall and their comedy is fueled as much by adolescent potty humor as political injustice. Director Tony Taccone (artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre) keeps things moving at neck-snapping speed, though there are at least five endings (and the piece could be trimmed elsewhere as well). With its homage to film and TV, there are, of course, video projections. And swordplay. And anal sex with a bear ( California forever screwing Latinos, I assume). The Potiker Theater is re-configured in the most conventional arrangement thus far: a straight proscenium stage and nicely raked seats. The scenic design (Christopher Acebo) features an inventive, malleable rotating set (which changes from hotel lobby to bedroom, past to present), with projections of the “Zorro” TV show and filmic adaptations, as well as the Douglas Fairbanks original and other nutty stuff (including hysterically moving mouths, spouting modernisms, of Yaqui indios in the classic B&W movie). The excellent video and lighting designs are by Alexander V. Nichols. The costumes (Christal Weatherly) are creative and ever-changing, the sound design (Robbin E. Broad) is funny, and the swordplay is quite convincing (thanks to Fight Director Dave Maier). Our own Shirley Fishman served as dramaturg, and the music (apt and appropriately used) is by guitarist Vincent Christopher Montoya (brother of Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya).
THE PLAYERS: The Culture Clash trio is in fine form, though everyone screamed through the first act on opening night. Mercifully, they settled down (and into the space) for Act 2, which is less funny but more political. Richard Montoya makes for an excellent hyper-assimilated Chicano Everyman, the writer/hero (who starts and ends in a straitjacket, being Gitmo-interrogated because he insists he’s Zorro). He experiences sex-, drug- and alcohol-fueled fantasies and hallucinations, as well as Bear-apy (therapy from that homoerotic grizzly, humorously played by Ric Salinas).Montoya does a great job as the masked crusader (duels included) when he’s called upon to take over the role, and he frequently elevates the level of discourse with his poetic sensibilities and lyrical language. Herbert Siguenza is his usual uproarious self, playing the stooped and aged Don Ringo (“the first Chicano!” he says repeatedly, assuming that slouchy ‘Zoot Suit/‘Orale! stance) as well as the raven-haired Indian, Trader Joe, and the gilded, goose-stepping, Hummer-driving Austrian governor. Ric Salinas is best as Kyle, the oversexed Bear, but he’s also funny as the (also gay and oversexed) desperado Whiskey Pete. For the first time in their local productions, Culture Clash has added other actors to the mix (too many characters even for these zany chameleons – and no trace of drag in this show!). Sharon Lockwood is wonderful as the worldly-wise, sexually experienced, 200 year-old woman who is the guide and catalyst for Montoya’s spiritual/political journey. Joseph Kamal plays several roles well, including a black-clad, shades-wearing interrogator and both the wealthy, foppish Don Diego and his macho alter-ego, Zorro (until Montoya takes over). When he finally breaks free, literally and literarily, Montoya entreats us all to “find our inner Zorro” and fight for social justice; his timing, given the State of the State – and the Union — couldn’t be better.
THE LOCATION: La Jolla Playhouse, through October 29
BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
THE JOKER IS WILD
THE SHOW: Four Queens – No Trump, winner of the NAACP’s Best Play Award for 1997
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: Ted Lange may be best known as Isaac Washington, the bartender on “The Love Boat” (he spent ten seasons on the show), but he happens to be an alum of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he made his Broadway debut in Hair, and he’s written 19 plays, and several “Love Boat” scripts. He’s been a director, a mentor and a guiding force behind the Directors Guild Fellowship program that helps develop job opportunities for women and minorities. His story focuses on the game of bid-whist, which has been played by African Americans since the Civil War. Although it’s still considered a rite of passage (especially at black colleges), neither director Floyd Gaffney nor his capable cast knew how to play. Gaffney learned from the playwright and passed it along. And there were plenty of women in the audience the night I was there who knew every move and relished every bid. It’s a partnership trick-taking game not unlike bridge or spades. And it’s a serious social occasion in the black community. In the play, four friends have a regular Friday night game.
THE PLAYERS/PRODUCTION: Floyd Gaffney has directed this slight but entertaining/amusing piece with heart and obvious affection. The set (uncredited) is Deola’s modest, well-appointed living room in South Central L.A. She’s the weekly hostess of the beloved card game, providing warmth, solace and themed culinary delights — from chitlins to Thai. She’s recently opened a dog grooming shop that also features her metaphysical readings. Deborah Branch is wonderful as the dashiki-wearing Earth Mother/psychic who knows who’s at the door before they knock but can’t, unfortunately, predict the trials or triumphs of her female friends. In the first scene, she welcomes Edna, a new addition to the group, fresh from her Texas divorce (a robust, credible performance by Ché Lyons, recently notable in Moxie’s Gibson Girl and Lynx Theatre’s Exonerated). The young/sexy (and, it turns out, oversexed) one is Jocenia (beautiful Yolanda Franklin), and the earthy, passionate, trash-talking Maude is expressively and expansively portrayed by Candace Ludlow Trotter. Rounding out the cast (in a fairly superfluous secondary storyline) is the formidable Bill Dunnam, who plays a gentle giant for a change, instead of the menacing killer-types he so often inhabits. The lines weren’t always set and stable the night I was there, but the characterizations were deep, rich and satisfying. There isn’t much plot or narrative arc, and it’s a tad formulaic, each woman pouring her heart and troubles out for mutual fixing at some time during the show. But you can overlook a lot, since these folks sure are fun to hang with for an evening.
THE LOCATION: Common Ground Theatre at New World Stage, through October 15
BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
THE MILLION MAN MARCH
THE SHOW: Middle-Aged White Guys, written by the elusive, long-unidentified Pulitzer Prize-nominated Jane Martin (active but unsighted for decades; generally considered to be the former Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director Jon Jory)
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: Okay, the country’s in a mess. [The play was written nearly a dozen years ago – 1995 — but that statement still holds true.] And it’s all due to the titular lugs and thugs – slug-like, big-bellied, middle-aged, “Eurocentric Anglo Saxon” white guys who’ve been in control of things for far too long. Now the women are taking their revenge, and God (also female) is prepared for the iniquitous males to do their penance. Her words are handed down through sexy, young RV, who appears in the same red dress she wore when she drove off a bridge 20 years ago. The three trailer-trash brothers who loved her (one of whom, apparently the wrong one, married her), show up at the garbage dump that was the site of a near-perfect baseball game one of the brothers, Moon, the pitcher, threw away – and that was RV’s final straw. So the 3 corrupt Mannering slimeballs gather on what would have been the pitcher’s mound, for their annual commemorative/memorial ritual beer-toast to RV, and suddenly, there she is, in all her glory. They fall down on their knees. And she delivers the message from On High. But not before the incensed, gun-toting ‘I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-gonna-take-it-any-more’ second wife comes in to vent her rage at her slimy, philandering husband. And their long-dead mother shows up to put her disgusted two-cents in. Oh, and Elvis appears, too (“King of the White Man, guitar in one hand and ruination of the Western world in the other”). If Martin is a man, s/he sure is having a male-bashing field-day. And these sleazebags deserve it. What they have to do for reparation and atonement is walk 600 miles to the Washington Monument , carrying a huge sign saying ‘I’m Sorry’ (“the cry of sins committed; the cry of sins repented”). And oh yes, they have to be buck naked. The thought alone is chilling, but having to actually witness these three drop trou (even if all we see is their underwear) is more than enough for any theatergoer to endure.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The set (Vincent Sneddon) is great: the chrome-trimmed nose of an old red Ford pointing at the audience, surrounded by trashcans, wire spools and a great expanse of rubbish and detritus projected behind. The light and sound (Eusevio Gordoba) are also effective. Under the direction of theater pro Ralph Elias, the tone is perfectly light and satirical, and the performances are great.
Katharine Tremblay, an alumna of the British American Drama Academy , is definitely a fresh young Face to Watch. She is beautiful as the red-dressed RV, whom she infuses with just the right balance of sexiness and sarcasm. Dale Morris enters dressed in Lincoln beard and very high hat (as the town’s mayor, he’s ready to deliver the 4th of July speech, until he slips and gets mired in dog-do). He’s an aptly blustery blowhard as Roy , perhaps the most crooked of the brothers, a scheming, womanizing animal who’s dealing in what he calls “food additives,” but are really the chemicals that were used in nerve gas. Roy brags that he’s enriched the town by making it the receptacle for several states’ garbage. Some of his finer moments: “ America has too much damn government,” he pontificates. Americans, he says, “see the problem, fix the problem… Fools cannot see the problem. Fools cannot fix the problem. These are Democrats.” He also firmly believes that “women are neurologically disadvantaged, with the IQ of a collie-dog,” asserting that “I’m the best damn thing genetics ever came up with : the White Man.”
Roy, who weaseled his way into his political position, married RV, though it was always his brother Moon that she loved. Moon, forcefully and effectively played by Dónal Pugh, is a soldier of fortune, a mercenary, a self-proclaimed “brute killer for pay” (“He sure does like to kill things,” says brother Clem). Moon’s fought in every warring nation imaginable (“You gotta kill a few people for Democracy,” he asserts), and he’s just arrived, in full battle array, from Liberia , ready for the ritual beer-toast to RV. Clem (sad-sack gentle giant Gerry Maxwel), the dim-witted, sensitive brother, has also bedded RV (her act of mercy? Sympathy? ), is the only one with any semblance of tenderness. Nonetheless, he’s an inveterate drinker, his wife has left him and gone to live with the Navajos in Arizona , and he’s suffering guilt pangs for having sold an AK-47 to a man whose 8 year-old brought the dang thing to school because he thought the teacher was a lesbian. If this play doesn’t sound like it was written about five minutes ago, I don’t know what does. Anyway, it ain’t over. The boys’ long-dead mother (solid, convincing Joan Westmoreland) also shows up, with Elvis (funny Volt Francisco) in tow. The women do get their vociferous say, when Rachel Carey, as Roy ’s current, miserably unhappy wife, rants at that no-good slimeball who ruined her life. And at the end, there’s the hard-to-get-out-of-your-head image of men marching across the country in their altogether, which is enough to make anyone cry “Uncle !, ” “Peace!” and “Curtain!”
THE LOCATION: 6th @ Penn Theatre, through Nov. 8
BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG ..
THE SHOW: Hemingway’s Rose, a wacky comic creation by actor Matt Thompson (currently cracking audiences up in North Coast Rep’s Leading Ladies) under the banner of his Plutonium Theatre Company
THE STORY: In three scenes, three disparate people come together, seemingly for the first time, in virtually the same guise: the nutty fantasist, the bespectacled realist and the no-nonsense pragmatist. The underlying theme seems to be Lighten Up, have fun, go with the flow, let your imagination run free. But the ending sort of jerks you out of that straight-ahead interpretation, and it doesn’t quite work. Are these really kids in a playground? Is this all a fantasy? Or what? The play may need tweaking, but the performances, under the direction of Angela D. Miller (who just did an excellent job with several pieces in the Actors Festival), are superb. Hemingway really doesn’t have too much to do with it. And there isn’t a rose in sight. But who’s taking notes? (I am!). There are enough comic moments and deep down belly laughs that you can forgive a lot. And Thompson has a wonderful way with off-the-wall dialogue and situations.
THE PLAYERS/PRODUCTION: The production values are minimal, since the show has to share the set with the White Guys. So they cover that old car and put in a bench here, a chair there. It works just fine. Because, with the solid support of Julie and Jonathan Sachs, who basically serve as straight-men and foils, the play is really a showcase for Plutonium’s Ted Reis, an antic, chameleon mix of Robin Williams (without the mania) and John Belushi (without the violent edge). He is a whirlwind of hilarity, rapidly changing accents, dialects, flights of fancy, lies and wild imaginings. He played a similarly annoying noodge in The Nerd at North Coast Rep, but since that character is relentlessly the same, it became grating. Here, Reis really gets to show his comic chops; his timing is impeccable, his ‘Huh? Who-me?’ ingenuousness, his sheer delight in his own inventions are absolutely priceless. He needs more vehicles to display his gut-busting talent. It’d be great to see the very comic Thompson in his own work, too. More power to Plutonium; long may it ignite and explode!
THE LOCATION: Late night Fridays (10:30) and mid-afternoons (4pm) Saturdays at 6th @ Penn Theatre, through October 28
BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet
FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE
THE SHOW: The 8th year of Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater’s outstanding Trolley Dances, created and directed b
THE STORY/THE BACKSTORY: This year, Isaacs took a risk, asking folks to venture into ‘unknown territory’ … along the Orange Line, in some of San Diego’s more colorful, less-touristed areas. And the result was outstanding: the two-weekend, 32-performance event drew 1750 people (only 200 shy of last year’s highly visible and well-traveled Mission Valley/SDSU tour). Although budget cuts required Isaacs to do more of the work herself (she choreographed three pieces for the event), this was a stronger and more amusing/entertaining array of performances.
THE DANCES/DANCERS: The tour started in the multihued Market Creek Plaza on Euclid Avenue . In fact, it started inside the Food 4 Less, one of the largest, Costco-sized supermarkets I’ve ever seen. In “Precision (sic) Produce Handling,” eight dancers situated themselves in the produce department, dressed in red employee aprons, and proceeded, to the music from the food-fest film, “Big Night,” to mangle the fruit — tossing it around, passing it under their chins, using it seductively to charm nearby observers (I was one, spellbound and eye-locked by entrancing Anjanette Maraya). Isaacs’ choreography was joyful, precise and whimsical, and it was as much fun to watch the non-participants (i.e., regular shoppers) as the dancers. Other highlights of the tour were Isaacs’ spectacular “Two Forms” (created in 1980), performed by the wonderfully lithe, long-legged Rachel Sebastian, principal dancer with the San Diego Ballet. Paired with a sculpture by Louis Nidorf (that Isaacs took out of her own yard, refinished and re-positioned in a barren lot on 47th Street), Sebastian, on point, wrapped her sleek, lissome form around the stark geometric shapes, creating a new sculpture of heartbreaking beauty. San Francisco choreographer Monica Bill Barnes, who’s made two other inventive contributions to Trolley Dances, provided a deliciously whimsical piece in a huge vacant lot at 25th Street and Commercial. Her ten dancers, wearing slightly raggy white formal tuxedo tails, cavorted in unison, covering huge swaths of ground, waddling very much like the March of the Penguins, shuffling into divets of dirt, righting themselves, railing at the sky and pushing on, ultimately being far from the audience, who watched, rapt, through a chain-link fence. As they faded from view, they looked like the end of some black-and-white silent film, some Charlie Chaplin satire. Thoroughly captivating. The Most Intriguing Location Award goes to the area across from the Market Creek Plaza called WriterZBlok: a gathering for teens. When the tagging had gotten out of control in the Plaza, this area was created as an alternative, a series of walls explicitly intended for graffiti. Teen taggers can bring their own paint and have a field-day. The colors are vibrant and the creativity considerable. San Diego Dance Theatre’s Bradley R. Lundberg had 11 dancers in cargo-pants strutting confidently through the area, in and out of a rusted but gaily painted old VW and leading the audience through the fascinating and ever-changing site.
This was definitely a Trolley Dances to remember. If you missed it this year, you lost a terrific opportunity to expand your horizons – artistically and geographically.
TALKIN’ ABOUT THE BIG C… OR NOT
THE SHOW/THE BACKSTORY: I caught a rehearsal of the new play, listen, at SDSU, and it surely is an intriguing project, a true ‘natural history.’ It all started in 1988, when an SDSU student was enrolled in a communications class taught by Dr. Wayne Beach. The assignment was to analyze the details of naturally occurring conversation. The student hooked up his telephone to a tape recorder, and the first call he received was from his father, telling him his mother had terminal adrenal cancer. Over 13 months, until his mother’s death, he recorded 60 calls among family members, a startling document of one family’s journey through terminal illness. The tapes were ultimately donated to SDSU and, under the direction of Beach and theater professor/director Paula Kalustian, a master’s thesis created 500 pages of detailed transcripts of the calls. Initial funding for the project was provided by the American Cancer Society in 1998. Enter playwright Patricia Loughrey, who condensed the reams of carefully annotated data (diacritical markings indicated precisely how each phrase was spoken, including intonation, pauses, lip-smacks, etc.) into an 80-page, one-hour theater piece. Workshop readings of her play earlier this year, attended by families, surgeons, hospice workers, grief counselors and survivors, received an overwhelmingly positive response. Support from the University President’s Leadership Fund and the Dean’s Excellence Fund have allowed for this full production, which features local actors (not students): Christopher T. Miller, thoroughly engaging as the son; Jerusha Neal, warm and wonderful as his mother; Walter Ritter as the no-nonsense father; with Kym Pappas and Mai Lon Wong filling in other roles and providing narration. The inventive staging, by Carla Nell, includes audio and video support. It’s a captivating production.
Loughrey, who’s spent the last ten years creating HIV education play and educational theater for youth, now teaches playwriting at State and at Diversionary Theatre, where she served as dramaturge for last year’s A Bright Room Called Day. She told me that everyone involved in the piece has had some experience with terminal illness – except for her. This, she felt, helped her avoid over-sentimentalizing the play. Interestingly, and for the same ‘distancing’ reason, she also has yet to listen to the original tapes. “If I did,” she said, “and it became really personal, it would have been much harder to cut.” Another fascinating part of the story is that the affected family, though they have given the rights (subsequently sold to a Medical Consortium) to Beach and SDSU, continues to remain anonymous and has no plans to see the finished theatrical project. Loughrey and Nell agreed that the cast should work on-book; “I want the audience to hear the reality of this family,” she said. “I didn’t want to turn it into a Hallmark story. Reading off scripts makes the performance style different and puts the focus on the text. There’s a mysterious magic in the material.” One interesting communicative trend she noted in the transcripts: Bad news was always bracketed by something encouraging. “There’s chemistry involved in hope,” she said.
THE LOCATION: SDSU’s Experimental Theatre; 10/6 & 10/7 at 8pm; 10/7 & 10/8 at 2pm; www.tickets.sandiegoperforms.com
NEWS AND VIEWS
… Don’t shine-on the Fall Harvest Moon Festival, hosted by the San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre. The benefit banquet, celebrating the Chinese holiday and the company’s 10th anniversary, takes place this Sunday at 5:30pm at Jasmine Restaurant ( 4609 Convoy St # A; 92111 ). Authentic Cantonese cuisine, silent auction, music by Bridget Brigitte, a tribute to Marianne McDonald and, in support of the world premiere of her House of Chaos (coming, via AART, to New World Theatre next spring), internationally renowned playwright Velina Hasu Houston. Tix at the door, or at 888-568-2278.
… Just in time for Halloween… or in advance of the Patté Awards (Jan. 8)…don’t miss the Old Globe Theatre’s Costume and Prop Sale on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 8am-2pm in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. Check out the attire created by renowned designers and worn by guest celebrities such as Mary Louise Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Dana Delany, Mariette Hartley, John Goodman, Billy Campbell and others. Here’s your chance to sparkle like the stars.
…Last week, when I mentioned Richard Baird, and his upcoming gig at the Southwest Shakespeare Company, playing the lead in Cyrano de Bergerac, I neglected to indicate who’s directing that production that will give Richard his Actors Equity card: None other than the locally beloved David Ellenstein, artistic director of North Coast Repertory Theatre.
…The Movie Makers: Local playwright David Wiener is presenting a staged reading of his play, Louis and Irving – the Movie Moguls, which won 2nd prize in the Palm Springs International Playwriting Competition (2004) and was selected for the Los Angeles Celebrity Playreading Series (coming in 2007). This, says Wiener, is the real story of “the REAL Irving G. Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer,” a tormented partnership that created MGM. Classic Film Fans, take note! Monday, October 16, 7-10pm, at James Dublino’s Applauz Theatre, 450 Fletcher Pkwy, Ste. 201, El Cajon; 619-440-6714
… Busy busy busy. Common Ground Theatre is in the midst of its latest production, Four Queen s – No Trump (see review, above), and it’s already on to the next. An early performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors, the contemporary opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, can be seen this weekend, followed by two weeks of performances in late November-early December. So get a jump on the season with this tender, touching story of a disabled but imaginative shepherd boy, his impoverished mother, and their magical visit from the star-guided Wise Men. It’s an inspiring fable of how faith, charity, good deeds and unselfish love can work miracles. Originally written for TV and geared for young imaginations, it premiered on NBC on Christmas Eve, 1951 ,and played for 16 consecutive seasons, becoming one of the most frequently performed operas of the 20th century. Directed by Floyd Gaffney, with instrumental and musical direction by Michael Morgan. Saturday, Oct. 7 (1-4pm) at St. Paul ’s Cathedral Center for the Performing and Visual Arts, 2728 6th Avenue .
… Another theater space lost. Calvin Manson reports that he and his Ira Aldridge Repertory Players will no longer be able to use Express Stage, in the Acoustic Expressions Music Store, as a performance venue. The new owner has, he says “a different vision for the theater space” (he’ll be using it to display guitars); Calvin had put a great deal of time and energy into creating a warm, intimate theater environment. He is looking forward and making plans to obtain a stable homebase, and celebrating the three productions that he was able to mount in this space. During this last weekend of the run of Ain’t You Heard, the bubbly tribute to Langston Hughes, he’s using the performances to help raise money to support High Tech High school students seeking support for their various trips for immersion into another culture. IARP will give $5 of every ticket sold, and a friend of Manson’s will match every donation dollar for dollar. So you can say farewell to a space, honor Langston Hughes and support knowledge-expanding schoolkids all at once. For more info on the High Tech High program: www.hightechhigh.org/shcools/HTHI/immersion.php
.. Poetic Justice: The San Diego Shakespeare Society cordially invites you to its annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets, during which local celebs from the world of arts, education, music, drama and media apply their creative energies to Shakespeare’s timeless verse – through song, dance or recitation. This year’s honored guests include: Karen Keltner, resident conductor of the San Diego Opera; Dalouge Smith, director of the San Diego Youth Orchestra; Scott Feldsher, founder/artistic director of Sledgehammer Theatre; Claudia Russell of Jazz 88, with accompanist Mike Keneally, formerly of the Frank Zappa band; members of the California Ballet; arts advocates Dea Hurston and Merle Fischlowitz, and others. The harmonious Cheshire Singers A Capella Choral Group will add their Elizabethan finery and fine voices. I’ll be the host again (in my finery). Admission is FREE (donations, gratefully accepted, will benefit the 2nd annual San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival, to be held April 28 in Balboa Park ). The Sonnet event, always great and creative fun, is Monday, October 23 (7:30pm) in the Old Globe Theatre. www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org.
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Critic’s Picks)
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Four Queens – No Trump – a delightful quartet of African American women you’ll enjoy spending an evening with
Common Ground Theatre at New World Stage, through October 15
Hemingway’s Rose – more a showcase than a fully fleshed-out play, but the comic, chameleon performance of Ted Reis is absolutely worth seeing
Late night Fridays (10:30) and mid-afternoons (4pm) Saturdays 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
Ain’t You Heard? – a funny, poignant tribute to Langston Hughes, “the Poet Laureate of Harlem,” based on the stories, poems and characters he created about African American life
Ira Aldridge Repertory Players at Express Stage in North Park , through October 7
George Gershwin Alone – a rhapsody of melodies, fantastically played (and you find out a few things about George, too, by George!)
At the Old Globe, through October 22.
Ella – some great singing and playing; wonderful performance, excellent band
At the San Diego Repertory Theatre, through October 15
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
Columbus Day is coming up – so why not try exploring some new turf of your own… visit a theater you’ve never been to before. You might make a discovery.
© 2006 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.