Published in Décor & Style Magazine
It may not be spring yet, but the hills are alive with the sound of music. Or at least the Ken is.
Starting March 8, the hit interactive musical phenomenon, corny but irresistible, the Sing-along Sound of Music, makes its San Diego debut at Landmark’s Ken Cinema, for a limited two-week run. The 1965 Academy Award winner (based on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s last and most sappy collaboration, in 1959) remains the most successful movie musical ever, and the number one family film of all time. Last summer, 18,000 diehard fans at the Hollywood Bowl cheered for that “flibbertigibbet” Maria (Julie Andrews), booed the Baroness (and those nasty Nazis) and crooned about notes (“Do Re Mi”), the lovely Swiss “Edelweiss” and others of their “Favorite Things.” This oddball but oddly popular Britain-America tour began in 1999 and is still going strong. It’s a far cry from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but you may want to come in costume (many have already gotten into the habit), dressed in lederhosen or dolled up as “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” or even “brown paper packages tied up with string.” Pre-show costume contest prizes include special 35th anniversary DVD and VHS editions of — what else?– The Sound of Music. If you’ve forgotten some of the cherished lyrics, fear not. There’s an interactive Fun-Pak giveaway, and subtitles throughout. Audience ad-libs are graciously accepted. (March 8-21 at the Ken Cinema in Kensington; toll-free: 866-468-3399 or www.ticketweb.com).
For an even older (but far better) musical classic, check out the new touring production of Kiss Me, Kate, with its glorious and ultra-witty Cole Porter score. Written in 1948, a riff on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, KMK enjoyed a stunningly successful Broadway revival in 1999. As New York Times critic Ben Brantley put it, “Kiss Me, Kate asserts that there is still a place for sophisticated, grown-up fun in the New York theater.” For the second time, the show won five Tony Awards. You can’t sing along on this one, but you’ll wish you could, with those incomparable Porter songs: “Another Op’nin, Another Show,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “Wunderbar,” “So in Love” and others). It’s a great way to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” (March 5-10, Broadway/San Diego at the Civic Theatre; 619-570-1100; 619-220-TIXS).
Another musical adaptation of a classic is Scapino, adapted from the 1671 Molière farce, Les Fourberies de Scapin (The Tricks of Scapin). The 1965 musical (originally adapted by Frank Dunlap and Jim Dale), is here re-set in a retro 1970s Neapolitan café. Any locale will do for shedding a hilarious light on the escapades and shenanigans of the cleverly intrepid, slippery servant Scapino, as he repeatedly outwits his master. Moonlight Stage Productions (formerly Moonlight Amphitheatre) promises plate-juggling waiters, a bum on a bicycle and the gut-busting antics of one of the most beloved clowns in literature (March 7-24 at the Avo Theatre in Vista; 760-724-2110).
For an even more farcical musical kick, a great big, boffo burlesque, there’s Pageant at North Coast Repertory Theatre. This San Diego premiere, hosted by the charmingly sleazy Frankie Cavalier (Don Ward) follows six wacko beauty contestants (Miss Bible Belt, Miss Deep South, Miss Industrial Northeast, etc.) who sing and dance, parade in evening gowns and strut in bathing suits, after which judges (from the audience) determine who becomes Miss Glamouresse, winner of the Glamouresse cosmetics’ annual extravaganza. To keep the spectators (and performers) on their toes, there’s a different winner every night. Susan Powell, a former Miss America, said the spoof was “impeccable; so funny I thought I was going to die. 90 minutes of laugh therapy.” Oh, and did I mention that all the beauties are male? (but you’d NEVER know it!). This promises to be one hoot of an evening, directed by Russell Grant, from the original New York cast (March 3-April 21 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach; 858-481-1055).
And now, for something not-too-completely different… a few non-musical classics…
The San Diego Repertory Theatre is presenting a tantalizing double-bill. Artistic director Sam Woodhouse is shepherding a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, that -ever-controversial ‘comedy’ in which a Venetian businessman borrows money from the Jewish loanshark, Shylock, played by that compelling clown and stellar solo performer Ron Campbell (last seen at the Rep as the brilliant R. Buckminster Fuller in The History (and Mystery) of the Universe). At the same time, Campbell is starring in Shylock, directed by rep associate artistic director Todd Salovey. The companion piece, a one-man play by Canadian Mark Leiren-Young, follows an actor as he prepares for the role of the famous moneylender in a contentious production of Shakespeare’s Merchant. The actor, accused of an anti-Semitic portrayal of the character, is subjected to the hypocrisy and censorship of the theater community. The company cancels the production and the actor is forced to face his ultimate accusers — the audience. Sure to be a gripping and provocative dramatic duo. (playing in repertory at San Diego Repertory Theatre; Merchant, March 1-31; Shylock, March 19-April 14; 619-544-1000).
The Theatre Department at San Diego State University is taking a chance and taking on a challenge with Garcia Lorca, Spain’s best-known modern poet-playwright (1898-1936). The House of Bernarda Alba is one of Lorca’s three great tragedies dealing with the passions of thwarted womanhood. The title character is a tyrannical mother who, obsessed with family honor, tries to control her five unmarried daughters. Matriarchal domination and sexual repression serve as a metaphor for Lorca’s homeland. Needless to say, hatred, jealousy, despair, passion and violence ensue. Performances are in English (March 15-24) and Spanish (March 16-23; 619-594-6365.
For a thoroughly enjoyable, vicarious instructional activity, you might want to check out the 19th annual Design/Performance Jury at SDSU (free; March 15, 9-3:00, in the Experimental Theatre). A panel of experts, including 3-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, actor/SDSU alumna Marion Ross, and an acclaimed director from Vladivostok, Russia, will judge the production plans and designs of SDSU theater students. Unique in the country, the inspiring educational experience is the brainchild of Dr. Beeb Salzer, professor of theater design.
If you like to see works in progress, there’s a fascinating series afoot. Beloved local actor Linda Castro (fresh from her co-direction of the power-packed Vagina Monologues in February) has set out to revisit the Greek classics, the source of all things theatrical. Under the aegis of Castro and co-producer David Cohen, an impressive assemblage of San Diego actors will come together at 6th@Penn Theatre for readings of some timeless masterworks, which Castro is calling Seven Weeks of Greeks: The Tragedies. You’ve already missed Medea, Antigone and The Trojan Women. But you still have time to catch Euripides’ Hippolytus (March 3, 7:30pm), Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (March 25, 7:30pm) and in April, Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (4/21, 2:00pm) and Iphegenia in Tauris (4/28, 2:00pm). Reservations/information: 619-698-2659.
If dance is your thing, consider Jean Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater’s “Dances for Spring.” Isaacs’ choreography for the updated, Hollywood-set Rigoletto at San Diego Opera was delicious. Now she’s mounting three San Diego premieres to herald the sunny season. The first is the lyrical Songs, a 1956 creation by octogenarian and modern dance pioneer Mary Anthony. The other two pieces are Isaacs’ own. She set Easter Oratorio to the music of J.S. Bach, as a “hearty exploration of how the body responds to the lush strains of this concerto.” The Rite of Spring employs the inimitable Stravinsky score, with a twist on the ritual sacrifice of a virgin (which was intended to ensure a rich harvest). This party is updated to a rave, and the youth selected for the sacrifice is a male. (March 29-31 at the Don Powell Theatre on the campus of SDSU; 858-484-7791).
Well, that ought to keep you busy for the month. March on — to the theater!…. and I’ll see you there.
©2002 Patté Productions Inc.