Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
April 15, 2011
Artists love to welcome audiences into the worlds they create. Right now, on local stages, you’re being invited into three wildly disparate worlds: musical, artful and fantastical.
The fantasy comes in Lamb’s Players Theatre’s production of “The Book of the Dun Cow,” based on the National Book Award-winning 1978 novel by Walter Wangerin, Jr. Set in an ancient time before humans roamed the earth, the story is populated by farm and woodland animals, led by the cocky rooster, Chauntecleer, who’s visited by the hauntingly ethereal Dun Cow, and hounded by the devilish Cockatrice and the malevolent, serpentine Wyrm.
With characters drawn from Norse mythology and Christian symbology, this theatrical adaptation, by Kerry Meads and director Robert Smyth, doesn’t fully succeed as drama. But the look is stunning, from the spectacular costumes to the exciting, flying fight between Chauntecleer and Cockatrice, a mid-air battle that pits Good against Evil.
There’s bound to be some element of good eggs and bad apples in a trailer park, too. You’ll hear it all – from the trash-talking, gun-toting, wife-betraying denizens of North Florida’s Armadillo Acres, in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” a genuine wide-bodied hit at the Coronado Playhouse.
The raunch-factor and humor run high, though the singing voices are variable. But the band is first-rate and the costumes often hilarious. Nick Reeves’ staging is as clever as Betsy Kelso’s lyrics, and as satisfying as David Nehls’ energetic score, rife with country, rock, disco and down-home blues. Lisa Allison and San Diego newcomer Stephanie Jenkins are standouts. Don’t look for depth here, but you can savor the truckload of blunders, bad-mouthing and belly-laughs.
Now, if you’re the type that likes to take a peek behind the scenes – and who doesn’t? – you can get a taste of the artist’s life, and be lifted aloft by “The Floating World” of Malashock Dance. The spanking new work takes you on tour with a dance company, from the exhausting schedule to the furtive, late-night connections; the warmups and let-downs, conflict and competition, and the ultimate joy of a triumphant performance.
It’s all told in dance, in 13 scenes and 60 minutes, performed in the round, surrounded by gorgeous projections by gifted video artist Tara Knight. Acclaimed English fashion designer Zandra Rhodes created the whimsical costumes – and choreographer John Malashock gives his seven dancers an exhilarating and athletic workout of leaps and lifts and marvelous pairings, including one sensationally sexy encounter in “The Hook-Up.”
“The Floating World’s” look and title were inspired by the Japanese wood-block exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art, which is where the performance takes place. It’s one of Malashock’s most bluntly narrative pieces, which makes modern dance accessible and comprehensible to all.
So, take a leap into another world; you’ll likely be intrigued, amused and entertained.
“The Floating World” dances on through April 23 in the Copley Auditorium at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” runs through May 15, at the Coronado Playhouse.
“The Book of the Dun Cow” also continues through May 15, at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado.
©2011 PAT LAUNER