Pat Launer on San Diego Theater
Thursday, August 6, 2009
MINI REVIEWS: “The New Mambo Kings,” “Romeo, Romeo and Juliet,” “The Waves”
Exes and Ohs
THE SHOW: “The First Wives Club,” a Broadway-bound world premiere musical, at the Old Globe
A new musical is a gargantuan undertaking that requires gobs of talent, money and time. A world premiere is risky business. A theater brings in the best people available, and hopes for the best. It isn’t always a winner right out of the gate.
And so it goes with “The First Wives Club,” adapted from the 1996 movie, which was inspired by the 1992 book, the debut novel of the late Olivia Goldsmith, who died in 2004. Both sources had cult followings among middle-aged women. And after substantial re-working, it’s possible that this show will, too. Play to your base, as they say.
Here’s the setup: Elise, Brenda and Annie were college friends, but they haven’t seen each other in decades. They reunite at the funeral of their fourth musketeer, who committed suicide after her husband left her for a newer model. Turns out, they all have that particular ache in common, being dumped for younger, sleeker arm-candy. Each of the three also helped launch the successful career of her philandering ingrate of a husband. Now they want revenge and they want to get even.
During a sneak preview not long ago, the creators of the new musical claimed vociferously that this version of the story wasn’t going to be about retaliation and retribution; it was about empowerment. Sure looks like vengeance to me. The gals get their own lives and careers back on track, but they make sure to bring their husbands down while they’re at it. All in the name of self-respect – and creating a Women’s Center in their late friend’s name, to help other members of ‘The Club.’ See? Women of a certain age are gonna love this. But I don’t know about the young ones. There’s nothing fresh, new, hip or insightful here. It’s an old story, told in an old-fashioned way.
The book, by multiple Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes (“ Drood ,” “Curtains,” “Say Goodnight, Gracie”) follows the original story fairly closely, except it makes the women even more disparate. There’s still the mousy, eternally apologizing WASP (Diane Keaton in the film; Karen Ziemba here), and the mouthy, wisecracking Jewish suburbanite (Bette Midler in the movie; Barbara Walsh here). It’s the wealthy fading star (Goldie Hawn) who’s changed the most. Now she’s a well-heeled singer (Sheryl Lee Ralph) whose husband ( Kevyn Morrow) was her manager, now hanging with a younger – and far less talented — vocalist. Each of the guys – gamely and engagingly played by Brad Oscar, John Dossett and Morrow – is a slimeball , who treats his First Wife appallingly. One ( Dossett ), even lures her to a hotel room and makes passionate love to her, before telling her he wants a divorce. Oh, and the woman he’s seeing? Their mutual – and decidedly unscrupulous — marriage therapist.
Poor Brenda (Walsh) has to put up with her lovesick ex, Mad Morty (Oscar, wild and funny in Goldsmith’s obvious riff on the old New York appliance-seller, Crazy Eddie), showing up at their son’s bar mitzvah with his ditsy, short-skirted shiksa in tow. What indignities these women are made to suffer! Too bad we don’t really know them well enough to care.
Their First Husbands actually get one of the cuter numbers, “I’m So Lucky,” in which each pumps himself up for his good fortune in snagging a hottie . All three paramours are delightfully played by Sara Chase.
Most of the score, written by the legendary Motown team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (who created major hits for the likes of The Supremes and The Four Tops), is bland and forgettable. It doesn’t sound like R&B or Broadway. More like cabaret concert numbers. Too many anthemic ballads, and only two energetic chorus numbers: “The Auction” (clever) and “Jump for Joy” (derivative). No show-stoppers. And most of the emotions feel forced.
There’s an excess of secondary and tertiary characters. The best of them are: the flamboyantly gay Duane (Sam Harris, amusing in a wildly over-the-top performance that feels and looks like he’s channeling Norbert Leo Butz in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”); and Chris (petite, perky Kat Palardy ), the lesbian daughter of Annie ( Ziemba ). Jews, blacks, gays, WASPs – everyone gets a stereotypic turn.
The choreography (Lisa Stevens) is uninspired. And though the men cavort capably, the women barely move, which is odd, since Ziemba won her Tony in the dance musical, “Contact.” Francesca Zambello , an acclaimed opera and theater director, doesn’t sufficiently enhance the women’s connections or pump up the energy, though the cast looks like they’re trying really hard to be ebullient. The orchestrator (Harold Wheeler) and musical director/vocal arranger (Ron Melrose) are the best in the business. This is a gathering of impressive talent, and yet the outcome falls flat.
The most Broadway-ready part of the production is the sets and lighting. The scenic design (Peter J. Davison) is dazzling, with its diamond-shaped iris expanding and contracting to reveal a range of stunning views of New York . The lighting (Mark McCullough) highlights the multiple playing spaces in varied and imaginative ways.
Truly, the most exciting part of the endeavor is allowing San Diegans, once again, to see a new show at its inception. This unique opportunity, which locals obviously love, celebrates and re-affirms our status as the nation’s number one exporter of shows to the Great White Way . Bravo to us!
THE LOCATION: The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park . (619) 23-GLOBE ; www.theoldglobe.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $66-92. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., through August 30.
ADDENDUM : Life imitates art once again. In Wisconsin this week, a married man who planned to rendezvous with one of his handful of lovers at an eastern Wisconsin motel instead found himself bound, blindfolded and assaulted by a group of women out for revenge. According to court reports, “four women, including his wife, showed up to humiliate the man, who ended up with his penis glued to his stomach in a bizarre plot to punish him for a lover’s quadrangle gone bad.” You just can’t make this kind of stuff up. Now, if we could just put it to music….
It’s Not Easy Being Green
THE SHOW: “Wicked,” the mega-musical is back in town, this time for a 4-week run, courtesy of Broadway San Diego
Six years, eight companies, nearly 2400 Broadway performances (and counting), 20 million people (worldwide) and 1.5 billion dollars later, “Wicked” is still going strong. The little girls still scream; their parents still love it. What’s not to like? ( unless you aren’t into musical extravaganzas). The sets (Eugene Lee), lighting (Kenneth Posner) and costumes (Susan Hilferty ) are beyond elaborate. The songs (Stephen Schwartz) are bouncy, fun and on occasion, touching (“For Good”), even memorable (“Popular,” “Defying Gravity”). Okay, I’ll grant you that the plot (book by Winnie Holzman , adapted from Gregory Maguire’s best-selling 1995 novel, “ Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West ”) is a tad overblown and convoluted – and it’s watered down, lightened up and simplified from the book!
But the real focus here is those Witchy women: the unlikely friendship between the jade-toned Elphaba and the blonde bimbette , Galinda (who, for some barely comprehensible reason, changes her name to Glinda ). They will, of course, in that previously more famous story, end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North. But that’s not at all how they began.
One is different (something of a pariah), bookish, honest and gifted. The other’s a superficial, hugely popular, materialistic narcissist. Somehow, they wind up as roommates at Shiz University . They even fall for the same guy: Fiyero , self-described as “deeply shallow.” He becomes engaged to Glinda , thanks to her machinations, but it’s Elphaba he follows, nearly to the ends of the earth.
Then there’s the Wizard (engaging vaudevillian Lenny Wolpe ), a more nefarious fellow than the hapless man-behind-the-curtain from “The Wizard of Oz,” and his sidekick in crime, Madame Morrible (high-powered Myra Lucretia Taylor) , who starts out as an instructor at the college . So does Doctor Dillamond (compelling Paul Slade Smith), who’s a goatish guy in the most literal sense. He kicks off the whole Save-the-Animals sub-plot which, while socially relevant and well-intentioned, doesn’t work as well as other story elements. But it does explain the wings on those Flying Monkeys. We even get to see the origin of the Lion, Scarecrow and Tinman … since all this action takes place before that tempest-tossed Girl from Kansas arrives.
Anyway, with a show like this, you can’t be too analytical. You just have to go along for the ride. And quite an exciting one it is. The first Broadway stars, Tony competitors Idina Menzel ( Elphaba ) and Kristin Chenoweth ( Glinda ), established exactly, and iconically , what the two central characters were like. Every production since has kept close to that vision, but the two vocal/comic powerhouses who head this cast – Donna Vivino and Katie Rose Clarke — add their own personality quirks and vocal pyrotechnics. Most important, they manage to make the girls’ relationship matter.
So, what are you waiting for? Follow the yellow brick road.
THE LOCATION: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 3rd Ave. ( 619) 570-1100; or (800) 982-2787 ; www.broadwaysd.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $25-128; Tuesday-Wednesday at 7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m., through August 30.
NOTE: The August 1 performance at 2 p.m. will be interpreted in American Sign Language.
BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
Do You Hear the People Sing?
THE SHOW: “Les Misérables ,” the musical perennial, at San Diego Junior Theatre
It’s one of the world’s most performed musicals, the longest-running musical in West End ( London ) history, and the third-longest running musical on Broadway. I’d heard really good things about the Junior Theatre production, and deservedly so. Director Desha Crownover and her cast of 65 (age 8-18), totally capture the look and feel of 19th century France on the brink of revolution. There are clear distinctions of class, compassion and morality (kudos to costume designer Lisa Forrest and wig/makeup maven Richard May). There’s an unequivocal earnestness in the performances, and an apparent understanding of what’s at stake for each character. A bit of overacting chews up some scenery, but the scenery itself is unique. Set designer Tony Cucuzzella backs the action with a geometric, abstracted conception of the rose window from the Cathedral of Notre Dame, with movable arches rearranged and reconfigured for the various locales. Very inventive and effective. Music director Richard Morrison, conducting a robust orchestra of eighteen, provides excellent backup for the talented singers.
All the leads acquit themselves well. Special mention should be made of rich-voiced Morgan Hollingsworth as that nefarious police inspector Javert , who won’t quit in his pursuit of intense but gentle Javier Garcia as Jean Valjean ; sweet-voiced Madeleine Barker as the ill-fated single mother, Fantine ; 8 year-old Avery Solsbak (clearer of voice than diction) as the plucky young Gavroche ; Nicki Elledge , memorable as young Fredericka in last year’s Cygnet Theatre production of “A Little Night Music,” compelling as poor Eponine , whose unrequited love for the revolutionary student, Marius, leads her to stirring, selfless acts; Brian Heil , vocally authoritative as the student leader, Enjolras ; and lovely-voiced Jenna Locke as Cosette , the object of Marius’ affections. As those dastardly connivers, the Thénardiers , Maddie White and Ryan Luster are raucous and amusing, and amusingly black-toothed. It’s a wonderful ensemble, and Crownover’s direction is inspired. The performance I attended was on a Tuesday morning, just for students. The 650-seat theater was packed. Riotous at the curtain calls but remarkably silent throughout the proceedings. The kids were riveted. Yours will be, too.*
*(recommended for age 10 and up).
THE LOCATION: The Casa del Prado Theatre, 1600 Village Place , in Balboa Park . (619) 239-8355 ; www.juniortheatre.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $8-13. Friday-Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m., through August 9
Note : The August 8 performance at 7 p.m. will be interpreted in American Sign Language.
Next month, Junior Theatre will welcomes back one of its own, the original “Jersey Boy” (he played Tommy DeVito ), Tony Award-winner Christian Hoff. Hoff began his career at age 8, at Junior Theatre, taking acting, singing and dance classes. He performed in dozens of plays, including “Mary Poppins ,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Grease.” “I am so excited to return to the very stage that launched my journey to Broadway,” says Hoff. “San Diego Junior Theater taught me about passion and commitment to the craft of the theater and showed me the path to success in my life.” He’s currently recording and touring throughout the US and can be seen as District Attorney Richard Blackman on “Ugly Betty” and as federal prosecutor Thomas Grady on “Law and Order; Criminal Intent.” On September 12, at 8 p.m., he’ll be presenting a concert on Junior Theatre’s Casa del Prado Stage in Balboa Park . Tickets include a dessert reception with Christian. Tix and info at www.juniortheatre.com
BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
Ménage à Quatre
THE SHOW: “The Waves,” a new play by Kirsten Brandt , former artistic director of Sledgehammer Theatre, produced by Vox Nova Theatre Company and Southwestern College
Kirsten Brandt , who wowed local audiences with her dramatic audacity at Sledgehammer Theater (1995-2001), has a thing for Mary Shelley. She penned a pair of plays called “The Frankenstein Project, v. 1 and v. 2.0 (1995 and 2005). Last year, Vox Nova Theatre Company presented a staged reading of her latest Shelley story, “The Waves.” Now, as part of their Super Nova 2 New Play Festival, artistic director Ruff Yeager has returned to the piece, to shepherd a full production. Last year, I found the reading captivating, with its harsh/lyrical language and present action mirroring past events. But there were elements of the play that were confusing and confounding. Brandt has done some major rewrites, but they haven’t served to clarify. The original story is dramatic enough:
Feminist writer Mary Shelley, daughter of philosopher/feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, was rebuked by her father, political philosopher William Godwin, when she ran off with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was married at the time. Mary’s free-spirited step-sister, Claire Clairmont , lived with the couple, and spent considerable time with poet Lord Byron (also married). It’s likely that Percy also slept with Claire. Mary’s older sister, Fanny, a confidante to both young women, committed suicide. Percy’s first wife drowned herself. In 1822, Percy also drowned, in a boating accident.
No wonder Brandt called her play “The Waves.” But this juicy historical triangle wasn’t enough for her. Brandt set her play in the present, in Southern California , and superimposed on the story anr equivalent quartet, with the same names: Mary, Percy, Claire and Gordon (Lord Byron’s full name was George Gordon Byron). They have contemporary problems, as well as the timeless ones of the historical characters.
Mary is experiencing post- partem depression. Percy feels ignored, and is blocked in his writing. Both the men in Mary’s life – her father and her husband – undermine her creative work. Claire is flaunting her sexuality, and posts on the internet videos of her scandalous acts with Byron. All three sisters seem to have a father problem. Fanny’s boyfriend, who jilts her, is much older. Mary is anxious about the relationship between Percy and Claire. She has recurrent dreams about a “monster,” and about the dead coming back to haunt the living. Alone onstage, she describes her dreams into a recording device. Claire and Mary talk repeatedly to Fanny, who never appears. The father, who seems to have dominated all their lives, is a looming offstage presence. There are as many monologues and conversations to absent characters as there are to the onstage ones. Brandt specified that the two men be played by the same actor ( Walter Murray , who could make more of a distinction between them).
The acting is fine. Jeannine Marquie is wonderful as Mary, and Karson St. John is terrific as Claire; their energy levels play off each other perfectly. But there’s just too much going on here. The thematic past/present duality, the relationship complexities, the multiple conflicts; with all that Brandt has on her mind, she could have two or three plays. And in this production, the blackouts between the many short scenes only serve to expand the already bloated piece. But kudos to all involved, for presenting new work, and continuing to refine it in front of adventurous (and preferably, historically knowledgeable) audiences.
THE LOCATION: The Mayan Hall Theatre on the campus of Southwestern College , 900 Otay Lakes Rd. , Chula Vista . (619) 482-6372 ; www.voxnovatheatrecompany.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $10 (cash only). Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m., through August 9
Ménage a Trois
THE SHOW: “Romeo, Romeo & Juliet,” by Ruff Yeager , was another part of the Super Nova 2 Festival. A delightful comedy, filled with smart, sassy dialogue and behind-the-scenes treats. A Cape Cod theater company (Barnstable Summer Repertory Theatre) is preparing a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” But the Juliet just snagged a Broadway gig and summarily left the show. With only a week before opening, they bring in a new Juliet who, it turns out, has never done – or even studied – Shakespeare. She’s never even left her Mormon community in Utah . Her first reading of the lines is a disaster. But she falls head over heels for her Romeo, who can barely contain his attraction to the (male) director.
The interactions are fun, and the insights about the text and the process are delicious. Kim Strassburger directed an outstanding cast, with a snappy pace and excellent clarity of character and diction. Kevin Koppman-Gue was a snarky revelation as Tracy, the gay actor of 21 who’s already world-weary – though he’d perk up considerably if Simon would return his attention and affection. Markuz Rodriguez was first-rate as the painstaking but losing-his-patience director. And adorable, 17 year-old Victoria Gonzalez is a wonder as the hyper and hyperverbal, Sprite-swilling ingénue, who makes a coming-of-age journey from innocent to accomplished actor (though she comes in with more acting chops than it seems), and from virginal naif to, well… something else. The only false note was Nancy ’s disingenuous “Do I have to die?” scene. Otherwise, it’s a comical, educational and entertaining ride, and I hope it gets a longer-running production somewhere soon.
( production closed).
Papa Loves Mambo
THE SHOW: “The New Mambo Kings” are the Mendoza brothers, identical twins from Colombia who’ve put together a cabaret show that highlights some of the roots of early Latin music and dance that crossed over into mainstream American culture and broadly influenced the artists of today. They presented the show over one weekend at Starlight Theatre. It attracted a whole new audience to the struggling company. The attendees seemed satisfied; hopefully, they’ll return, to help keep the 63 year-old, plane-evading San Diego tradition alive.
Carlos, an acclaimed local director, and Mauricio, a stage and screen actor who just closed the Lamb’s Players’ production of “The Fantasticks ,” are charming hosts and consummate entertainers. Debonair, dressed in white dinner jackets, they sing, they dance a little, they show a bit of their family background (a slideshow of pix from their childhood). We want to get to know them better, sooner.
Their bilingual show, set in a Copa -like nightclub — potted palms, circular stairways and all (scenic design by Mike Buckley), features seven dancers: a Salsa Couple, Ballroom Couple, Latin/Jazz dancer and a ‘Folkloric’ duo. The costumes (designed by Imelda Castañeda and Renetta Lloyd, of Natty Lou Creations) are spectacular… all skimpy and clingy, sequins and feathers and fun. The dancers are great.
The singing, including several numbers by Crissy Guerrero, who’s toured with El Vez , the Mexican Elvis, for 13 years, is accomplished. The dancing is expert, if not sufficiently varied, despite a raft of choreographers (Carlos Mendoza, Daneyse Castro, Jason Rivers, Alvaro Coronel, Javier Velasco ). There’s only one problem with this evening of entertainment: most of these songs are decades old. And they’re the most commercial of all Latin musical creations: from “Conga” to “With Every Beat of My Heart” to the perennial “ Guantanamera .” Some are decidedly white-bread: Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” “South of the Border” (1939, recorded by Sinatra), “Papa Loves Mambo” (recorded by Perry Como in 1954 – it doesn’t get any more white bread than that!) and “A Mi Manera ” (aka “My Way”).
There’s a touching tribute to Desi Arnaz , including his signature songs, “ Babalu ” and “Cuban Pete,” accompanied by early photos (there’s even one of Lucy). The brothers mention that current recording artists like Ricky Martin ( né Enrique Martín Morales ) and Marc Anthony (born Marco Antonio Muñiz , the biggest-selling salsa music artist of all time, as noted in the Guinness Book of World Records) could never have gotten where they are – winning American Grammys in addition to their Latin Grammys – without those who came before. Fair enough, but that provided an ideal opportunity to present some of the newer, hipper songs from these two multi-million-album sellers, and others of their generation. Just a suggestion, for the next incarnation of the Mendozas ’ ever-evolving show.
NEWS AND VIEWS
… Extensions: Even before the reviews came out, the Old Globe announced an extension of “The First Wives Club,” (a common occurrence, usually pre-planned), through August 30. Cygnet Theatre has also added performances to the farcical “Noises Off,” which now continues through September 6.
… Symphony On Broadway: “Broadway Today” is a special two-night presentation by the San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops. I’m thrilled that I was asked to be the announcer/introducer on August 8. So come on down! The conductor is Randall Craig Fleischer, and the three featured singers — Christiane Noll, Hugh Panaro and Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte — will be giving their all to numbers from shows like “The Lion King,” “Guys and Dolls,” “West Side Story,” “Les Miz ,” “Chicago,” “Wicked,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “Mamma Mia!” You don’t want to miss this one! August 7 and 8 at the Embarcadero Marina Park South . Tickets at www.sandiegosymphony.org/summerpops /
… Starry Eyed: The new musical, “ Starry Messenger ,” by Kenneth Lonergan (his first foray back from screen to stage since “Lobby Hero” in 2001, which played at the Old Globe in 2005), was supposed to have premiered at the Globe in 2007, with Matthew Broderick in the lead. Film schedule conflicts prohibited the local premiere. Now the show is scheduled for previews in October at the New Group@Theater Row in New York . Too bad we missed the opportunity. Broderick’s still attached to the project; his co-star will be Catalina Sandino Moreno , nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for her performance as a pregnant teenager in the movie “Maria Full of Grace.”
… Ghostly News: The 1990 romantic film, “Ghost,” is set to be adapted into a stage musical, opening on London ‘s West End in 2010. Music and lyrics will be written by Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics ) and six-time Grammy winner Glen Ballard. Bruce Joel Rubin will adapt his own Oscar-winning original screenplay and will also co-write the lyrics. At the helm is Tony Award-winning English director Matthew Warchus (“Art,” “God of Carnage,” “The Norman Conquests”) who, at the same time, is working on another new musical, “Matilda,” based on Roald Dahl’s book about a misunderstood girl genius. Meanwhile, back to “Ghost,” there’s already internet buzz about how the team is going to pull off the infamous, sexually-charged “potter’s wheel” scene. Stay tuned.
…Know How to Fold ‘ em : A little Origami could calm your frazzled nerves. The Mingei International Museum in Escondido is featuring a Folding Festival this Saturday. Novices and masters alike are welcome to participate. San Diego and Orange County origami artists promise to make the experience satisfying and stimulating for all. The event was inspired by the Museum’s newly enhanced origami gallery. All materials will be provided. Saturday, August 8, 1-3pm. www.mingei.org
… Opera Bon Appétit: The San Diego Opera is reprising its “Taste of Opera” events designed to offer an introduction to the upcoming season centered around creatively-themed dinners. This will include a themed series of cooking classes and dinners. The meals, coordinated with the 2010 season operas — “ La Bohème ,” “ Nabucco ,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “La Traviata ” – will range from French bohemian to Carnaval to a menu fit for lovers. Information at www.sdopera.com/Experience/TasteofOpera ; (619) 533-7000.
… Ever the Twain Shall Meet : Write Out Loud, the local group that offers oral readings of short literary gems, will present “Mark Twain – Undone,” a series of lesser-known works by the American Bard. August 17 at 7 p.m. at the Old Town Theatre. www.writeoutloudsd.com ; (619) 297-8953.
… Pitti -Pat : Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Page, who’s recorded more than 1000 songs, with 111 hits on the Billboard charts, will perform a one-night-only concert at the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido , as she promotes her new memoir, “This is My Song” ( Kathdan Books). There will be a meet-and-greet and book signing in the lobby following the brief performance. Page, now 82, is perhaps best known for “Tennessee Waltz,” which sold 10 million copies and reached #1 on the Pop, Country and R&B charts. She was named “ America ’s Favorite Female Vocalist” in 1957. There’s no charge for this special event. Monday, August 17 at 1:30 p.m. www.welktheatresandiego.com ; (888)-802-7469.
… Chaplinesque : Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, the daughter of actor/director/comic genius Charlie Chaplin and granddaughter of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill, will direct “ Aurélia’s Oratorio,” a surreal circus-like stage piece written by her daughter, Aurélia Thierrée . Chaplin was here in 1995 for the West coast premiere of her “Cirque Invisible,” a one-ring, two-person mini-spectacle created with her husband, Jean Baptiste Thierrée . This new cirque, which has been performed around the world since 2003, stars Aurélia and comes to the La Jolla Playhouse for a three-week run in February. Consider this a family-friendly addition to the Playhouse season. www.lajollaplayhouse.com ; (858) 550-1010.
… It’s a Wonder! : Next month, the painstakingly restored 80 year-old Wonder Morton Organ will make its debut at the Balboa Theatre downtown. One of only four of its kind in the world, the instrument has been undergoing restoration for five years. It wasn’t the organ in place when the Balboa Theatre opened in 1924; that one was moved to the Fox Theatre (now Copley Symphony Hall), around 1929, where it remains. Organist Chris Gorsuch will play the inaugural concert; September 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets and information are at balboatheatre.org.