Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
AIRDATE: OCTOBER 30, 2009
You can call it ‘The People’s Choice.’ When audiences swoon over a production, theater companies are encouraged – especially in these tough times – to revisit a surefire hit. In two current cases, the show was a bona fide winner – and definitely worth another look. Both productions proved to be significant springboards for the company that spawned them.
When Lamb’s Players Theatre presented the world premiere of Tim Slover’s “A Joyful Noise” ten years ago, it was such an excellent, acclaimed production that they took it to New York, where the show had a run Off Broadway. So the company has a fond feeling for this historical peek-behind-the-scenes about the creation of George Fredrick Handel’s masterwork, “The Messiah.” It was a rough and rocky road, complicated by the vehement opposition of the Church, and a couple of sparring sopranos, one of whom had been involved in a sex scandal. But against all odds, the sublime oratorio premiered in London in 1742. And the rest is Christmas singalong history. In the new Lamb’s production, the performances are excellent, the costumes are stunning and we get treated to even more of the glorious music this time. The concluding excerpt from the magnificent “Hallelujah Chorus” is enough to bring tears to any eye.
Now, for Moxie Theatre, it was the darkly comical “Dog Act” that put them on the map. The brilliant, quirky creation by Liz Duffy Adams was the perfect preview of the kind of work this gutsy, energetic little company would produce. To everyone’s delight, “Dog Act” is back, after only four years. But this production marks another milestone. Moxie now has a homebase , at the Rolando Theatre not far from SDSU. The formerly peripatetic company deserves a consistent space; they already have a dedicated following. “Dog Act” will especially appeal to the younger, hipper audience, and those who like their theater a little edgy and unpredictable, with a bit of ‘language,’ as they say. Language, in fact, is the imaginative cornerstone of the piece.
The Apocalypse has already come and gone in America . Tribes wander about, scrounging for food. Each group has a distinct way of speaking, from the Vaudevillians’ faux Shakespeare to riffs on “Peter Pan” and Abbott and Costello, to the violent, F-bomb-laden outpourings of the Scavengers. This delicious, futuristic fairy tale is chock-full of oddball characters. It’s story of survival, beginning with subterfuge and shifting allegiances, and ending with a hint of acceptance and forgiveness. Four of the original fantastic cast of six remain , and each carves out an electrifying character.
Whether this will be an initiation or a reprise, if you love theater, you simply have to see these two command performances.
The Moxie Theatre production of “Dog Act ” runs through November 22 at The Rolando Theatre.
“A Joyful Noise” continues through November 22, at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado .
©2009 PAT LAUNER