Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
March 10 , 2012
Becoming a novelist, a journalist or a King… On any professional path, the most important lesson is: Be true to yourself.
Truth is especially elusive for a naïve correspondent in a war zone. “How I Got That Story,” by Amlin Gray, was written in 1979, and set in fictional Ambo-Land, a thinly disguised Vietnam. The nameless Reporter, bright-eyed from Dubuque, thrusts himself into a faraway land, in search of adventure, and the facts behind the action. But through his meet-ups with 20 disparate male and female characters, all played by mega-talented chameleon Greg Watanabe, Brian Bielawski’s implausibly credulous Reporter learns how slippery reality can be. He’s stymied by a slimy boss, an eccentric empress dowager, GIs who won’t talk, bar girls who tell him whatever they think he wants to hear. Confused and exasperated, the Reporter tries to go ‘native,’ but ends up losing his identity and his soul.
There’s powerful anti-war sentiment in the play. But the allegorical humor isn’t funny enough or the war hellish enough to make us care. The conspiratorial style becomes tiresome, as does the sound design of grating noises vocally created by Watanabe. There’s too much yelling, not enough nuance. Most of the fault lies in the play, but the Mo’olelo production also leaves something to be desired.
You can’t fault the play when it’s written by William Shakespeare, though “Henry IV, Part 1” is as heavy on arcane political wrangling as it is in delicious wit. This second Shakespearean co-production between North Coast Repertory Theatre and Mira Costa College is predictably uneven. But two central characters are particularly potent: the portly pussy-footer, Fat Jack Falstaff, delightfully inhabited by Bernard X, Kopsho ; and young Prince Hal, who must confront his father and his misspent youth, throwing off bad company, drunken revels and practical jokes to take his rightful place as warrior and royal heir. Kevin Koppman-Gue , ever-evolving into an actor of range and note, makes an excellent transition from dissolution to destiny.
Jo March is convinced that her destiny is to be a famous writer. The wildly energetic iconoclast is, of course, the centerpiece, and author stand-in, of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” The latest stage adaptation of the beloved 1868 novel is the Broadway musical, a small chamber piece that fits snugly into Moonlight Stage Productions’ Avo Theatre. The book by Allan Knee , lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland are pleasant but unremarkable, though the Moonlight cast, under the direction of Kathy Brombacher , is talented and engaging. The standout is Hilary Maiberger’s charismatic Jo, who learns to forego the shallow, gory stories of her youth, to write about what she knows best – her family. Like those early stories, the musical doesn’t run deep, but the production is charming.
The path to success can be cluttered — by danger, distraction or song.
“Little Women” runs through March 11 at Moonlight’s Avo Theatre in Vista.
“How I Got That Story,” a production of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, continues through March 18, at the 10th Avenue Theatre downtown.
“Henry IV, Part 1” plays through March 18 at Mira Costa College in Oceanside.
©2012 PAT LAUNER