Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
January 4, 2013
Robots and truckers and race, oh my! 2012 was a great year for new work, with biggies premiering at both our Tony Award-winning theaters.
The Old Globe gave us the most engaging new musicals: the light-dappled “A Room with a View” and the comical “Nobody Loves You,” culminating with a moving story of Japanese internment – “ Allegiance,” the legacy project of ‘Star Trek’s” George Takei.
The big musical news at La Jolla Playhouse was “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” which was technologically fantastic, but featured under-developed characters and story. “The Nightingale” was a major misstep, but “Hands on a Hardbody” was fun, and it’s about to open on Broadway.
Our two highest-profile theaters gave us some of the year’s most unforgettable productions: fresh from New York accolades, director/choreographer Susan Strohman re-staged a stunning “Scottsboro Boys” at the Globe. And a pair of intense dramas knocked our socks off at the Playhouse: “Blood and Gifts” about the last war in Afghanistan, and “An Iliad,” a gut-wrenching meditation on all wars since the Greeks.
There was lots of action at the smaller theaters, too, where Moxie presented a killer production of the Depression-era “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek,” ion theatre did a bang-up job with the searing story of sibling rivalry, “ Topdog /Underdog,” and Cygnet outdid itself with “Parade,” a gorgeous, disturbing musical about a dark, racist chapter in our early 20th century history.
There were new works at New Village Arts, the San Diego Rep, circle circle dot dot , Cygnet, Scripps Ranch Theatre, OnStage Playhouse and ion theatre, whose San Diego-set “Julia” was imaginatively inspired by Strindberg’s “Miss Julie.”
One of my great theatergoing pleasures in 2012 was at the movies: watching the magnificently filmed versions of London’s National Theatre productions, including a stupendous “Frankenstein” and an amazing adaptation of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” These shows are really something to see.
In 2013, I’m looking forward to the new musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” at the Old Globe. And the musicals “Grey Gardens” at ion, “Billy Elliot” and “American Idiot” at Broadway San Diego. And an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” a first -time collaboration by two wonderful small companies: Moxie and Mo’olelo.
I can’t wait to see the reprise of the terrific “Car Plays” at La Jolla Playhouse, 10-minute playlets presented in parked vehicles for two backseat audience members. And the Playhouse is debuting DNA, a new program that gives us an early peek at emerging shows.
I’m excited about the Globe’s new artistic director, Barry Edelstein, acclaimed in New York as a Shakespearean and a shepherd of new work. Seems like a perfect fit.
Theater and San Diego are a pretty great fit, too. Resolve to give it a try in the New Year.
©2013 PAT LAUNER