Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BROADWAY SAN DIEGO: Announces their 2012-2013 Season and Two Season Add-Ons

Christie Brinkley, Constantine Maroulis, Cathy Rigby and More Headline A Diverse Musical Lineup

First off, Broadway San Diego has just announced an “extra show” add-on to their 2011-2012 Season. Supermodel Christie Brinkley will make her San Diego debut this Spring as she reprises her killer role as Roxie Hart in the six-time Tony Award winning musical smash hit, CHICAGO. This devilishly delicious tale of greed, murder, corruption, and adultery is sure to entertain with its electrifying Fosse-inspired dancing, its show stopping signature Kander and Ebb tunes, and its sizzling, sexy, scantily-clad ensemble. CHICAGO plays at the San Diego Civic Theatre May 8-13, 2012.

And, now, onto the announcement of Broadway SD’s 2012-2013 Season:


“…the best of times is now…”

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES tells the story of Georges, the owner of a glitzy nightclub in lovely Saint-Tropez, and his partner Albin, who moonlights as the glamorous chanteuse Zaza. When Georges’s son brings his fiancée’s conservative parents home to meet the flashy pair, the bonds of family are put to the test as the feather boas fly! LA CAGE AUX FOLLES is a tuneful and touching tale of one family’s struggle to stay together... stay fabulous... and above all else, stay true to themselves!


“….bring him home, bring him home…”

Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th Anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, LES MISÉRABLES, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. This new production has been acclaimed by critics, fans and new audiences and is breaking box office records wherever it goes. [LES MISÉRABLES is an “extra show” add-on to Broadway SD’s 2012-2013 Season.]


“…this is the moment…”

Starring in the dual title role of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, American Idol star and Tony® Award nominee, Constantine Maroulis, injects new life into the classic tale of good and evil, JEKYLL & HYDE. After four thrilling, chilling years on Broadway and multiple world-wide tours, this dark and dangerous love story from Tony and Grammy Award® nominee Frank Wildhorn returns in a stunning new production that includes all the classic songs This is the Moment, A New Life and Someone Like You that first grabbed audiences by the throat and transformed JEKYLL & HYDE into a theatrical phenomenon.


“…I’m flying…look at me way up high, suddenly here am I…I’m flying…”

Tony Award® nominee Cathy Rigby takes flight in an all new production of Peter Pan! Discover the magic all over again of this two time Emmy® Award winning and two time Tony Award® nominated production. The New York Times says “Rigby still carries off the flights, fights and acrobatics that make Peter Pan audiences mesmerized.” Peter Pan is filled with timeless magical moments and a captivating hook. The legend you thought you knew, is now the adventure you never dreamed possible… Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan!


“…speaking words of wisdom, let it be….”

RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles, the internationally acclaimed Beatles concert, returns by popular demand! RAIN performs the full range of The Beatles’ discography, live mastering every song, gesture and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that’s as infectious as it is transporting. From the early hits to later classics (I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Let It Be, Come Together, Hey Jude and more), this adoring tribute will take you back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends!


“…all you really have to do is shine…”

BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL is the joyous celebration of one boy’s journey to make his dreams come true. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising talent that inspires his family and his whole community and changes his life forever. A big musical with an even bigger heart, BILLY ELLIOT will enchant the dreamer in all of us. Based on the international smash-hit film, BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL is brought to life by a phenomenal cast and the Tony Award® winning creative team -- director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and writer Lee Hall - along with music legend Elton John, who has written what the New York Post calls “HIS BEST SCORE YET!”


“…one, 21 guns, lay down your arms, give up the fight…”

The New York Times calls AMERICAN IDIOT “thrilling and emotionally charged, as moving as anything on Broadway!” Based on Green Day’s groundbreaking rock opera of the same name, this daring new musical tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia, and features the smash hits Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Holiday and 21 Guns.


“…take me to heaven…”

SISTER ACT is Broadway’s feel-amazing musical comedy smash! The New York Post calls it “RIDICULOUSLY FUN,” and audiences are jumping to their feet in total agreement! Featuring original music by 8-time Oscar® winner ALAN MENKEN (Beauty and the Beast , The Little Mermaid , Little Shop of Horrors), SISTER ACT tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look—a convent! Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, SISTER ACT is reason to REJOICE!

For more information about Broadway San Diego and to purchase tickets, call 619-570-1100 or visit www.broadwaysd.com.

Show logos and summaries courtesy of Broadway San Diego.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another (Group of) Openings ... Another (Group of) Shows

The problem with having so many prolific theatre companies in San Diego is that it is impossible to see all the shows that are produced in and around our vast county. For instance, yours truly is reviewing three productions this weekend and that means I’m missing out on three other shows that are also opening this weekend. In order to give these shows their turn in the spotlight, I’ve featured a brief blurb about each below.

WHO: Eveoke Dance Theatre Company

WHAT: “Reflections” is a dance-theatre-visual art fusion performance piece that focuses on the stories of everyday women who have done extraordinary things. While you may not have heard about the six historical heroines featured in this work (Saint Josephine Bakhita, Rachel Corrie, Henrietta Lacks, Mukhtar Mai, Hannah Senesh, and Michi Nishiura Weglyn), their courageous stories have affected history in a profound way. Ericka Aisha Moore choreographs while Lynn Susholtz and Araceli Carrera provide visual art.

WHERE: Art Produce, 3139 University Avenue in North Park

WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Now through February 12.

HOW: www.eveoke.org or 619-238-1153

WHO: The Old Globe

WHAT: “The Recommendation,” a world premiere play by up-and-coming playwright Jonathan Caren, focuses on two unlikely college roommates – one white, wealthy, and well-connected and the other mixed-race, middle-class, and disadvantaged. As one roommate tries to help the other, their once solid friendship is later threatened as a third person becomes involved.

WHERE: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park

WHEN: Various showtimes. Now through February 26.

HOW: www.theoldglobe.org or 619-23-GLOBE

WHO: PaccoArts

WHAT: The premise of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged and revised)” can best be summed up in the plays tagline: 3 Guys, 37 Plays, 97 Minutes! Real life friends Jaysen Waller, Bruce Blackwell, and David Pinson are teaming up for a fifth time to present this zippy, fast-paced farcical production. They have had great success in their previous four incarnations of this show, so who knows? Maybe the fifth (and fully revised) time is the charm.

WHERE: Patio Playhouse, 201 East Grand Avenue in Escondido.

WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm. Now through February 12.

HOW: www.paccoarts.com or 760-593-7074

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FEBRUARY FEATURE: Getting to Know Them...

This February, The Drama King will be featuring full-length interviews with some notable names in the theatre world, all of whom have connections to the local San Diego theatre scene. Here's a little preview of who they are, how they are linked to our vibrant SD theatre community, and when you can expect their complete interviews to be published here on my blog.

Seema Sueko

ABOUT: Co-Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company, Seema was the winner of the 2010 Des McAnuff New Visions Award from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and named one of the “Top 5” artists to watch in 2012 by the San Diego Union-Tribune. She has fearlessly lead her company, Mo`olelo Performing Arts, through seven years of groundbreaking new works and socially conscious theatre. Her company has just come off a red banner year, having won both the American Theatre Wing’s National Theatre Company Award and Actors’ Equity Ivy Bethune Award in 2011.

SAN DIEGO THEATRE CONNECTION: This year, for the first time in the company’s history, Mo`olelo is producing a three show season at the 10th Avenue Theatre: How I Got That Story by Amlin Gray, Hoodoo Love by Katori Hall, and KITA Y FERNANDA by Tanya Saracho.


WEB: www.moolelo.net

Roger Bean

ABOUT: Executive Director of Steele Spring Theatrical Licensing and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and The Dramatists Guild, Roger is the creator, writer and director of the long-running Off-Broadway hit, The Marvelous Wonderettes. Master of the jukebox musical, he has created nearly a dozen new musicals, including: The Andrews Brothers, Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Winter Wonderettes, Route 66, Honky Tonk Laundry, Don’t Touch That Dial!, Life Could Be A Dream, and his newest musical, Summer of Love.

SAN DIEGO THEATRE CONNECTION: His Marvelous Wonderettes are making their way down to the Birch North Park Theatre this February, courtesy of San Diego Musical Theatre.


WEB: www.sdmt.org

Matt McGrath

ABOUT: Recently starred as Dr. Frank “N” Furter in The Old Globe production of The Rocky Horror Show. His Broadway credits include Emcee in Cabaret directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall and also A Streetcar Named Desire. He has appeared Off Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, A Fair Country (Lincoln Center Theater), Minutes from the Blue Route, Fat Men in Skirts, The Old Boy, Life During Wartime, Amulets Against the Dragon Forces, and Dalton’s Back (Drama Desk Award nomination).

SAN DIEGO THEATRE CONNECTION: Will play Adam in the Tony-nominated play Next Fall at Diversionary Theatre beginning February 16th.


WEB: www.diversionary.org

? Rock of Ages Mystery Rockstar ?

ABOUT: Rock of Ages, The Musical is a hilarious, feel-good love story told through the hit songs of iconic rockers Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, and many more. The Broadway production opened in April 2009 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The film adaptation is scheduled for a June 2012 release and stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, with an ensemble cast including Russell Brand, Tom Cruise, Kevin Nash, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, and Mary J. Blige.

SAN DIEGO THEATRE CONNECTION: The first national tour will rock the San Diego Civic Theatre, from March 27th through April 1.


WEB: www.broadwaysd.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THEATRE REVIEW: "Brooklyn Boy" at Scripps Ranch Theatre

Back to “Brooklyn”:

Scripps Ranch Theatre finds universal themes in Margulies’ Jew-centric play

By Donnie Matsuda

You can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the boy.

That’s sort of the sentiment behind Donald Margulies’ semi-autobiographical play, Brooklyn Boy, which chronicles one man’s journey back to his Jewish neighborhood where he discovers that his current success as a professional writer doesn’t quite absolve the personal failures of his past. And as the fallout from these failures becomes harder and harder for him to ignore, he’s eventually forced to come to terms with himself, his heritage, and his faith.

(Left to right): Amanda Cooley Davis, Fred Harlow, Cris O'Bryon, and Paul Bourque. Photo by Ken Jacques.

Margulies’ 2004 play, currently receiving a solid revival by Scripps Ranch Theatre, follows novelist Eric Weiss as he begins to find mainstream success with the publication of his third, semi-autobiographical book, “Brooklyn Boy.” Fresh off the heels of his Today show appearance, Weiss begrudgingly returns to his Brooklyn roots to visit his ailing father (played by a biting Paul Bourque), who even on his deathbed would rather watch TV than read his son’s “hoity toity” novels. There’s a lot of tense back and forth banter as these two men – one old, crotchety and full of put-downs that may or may not be kosher, and the other middle-aged, aloof and trying to defend his literary lifestyle – try to battle it out over a hospital bed. Of course, these two men don’t see eye to eye until the play’s utterly predictable end, an epilogue of sorts that tries too hard to be touching and ends up feeling kitschy and overly sentimental instead.

Sandwiched in between are several scenes in which Weiss interacts with a colorful cast of supporting characters: there is his Yiddish-spouting, yarmulke-wearing childhood friend Ira Zimmer (a nebbish Fred Harlow who carefully trods the fine line between annoying and adorable); his soon-to-be ex-wife Nina (a curt and emotionally drained Amanda Cooley Davis); his late night hotel room fling (a precocious Charlene Koepf); and a Hollywood agent (an over-the-top Wendy Waddell) who tries to make his screenplay “less ethnic” by casting blond, buff actor Tyler Shaw (a believable Adam Daniel) as the Brooklyn boy himself.

(Left to right): Fred Harlow and Cris O'Bryon. Photo courtesy of Scripps Ranch Theatre.

Without a doubt, the true star of this show is the character of Eric Weiss, here played to perfection by Cris O’Bryon. Not only does he have the sheer stamina to keep up with Weiss’ kibitzing around (he is onstage for all six scenes of the play), but his strong comic chops and seamless emotional arcs are as convincing as they are captivating. O’Bryon handles his complex characterizations and humor-filled dialogue with ease, and deftly conveys a character that is simultaneously likable, detestable, and fully flawed.

And “mazel” to director Ruff Yeager (who does triple duty on this production, also serving as sound designer and set designer in addition to directing) who carefully mines the play for all of its quietly comedic and deeply affecting moments, all the while keeping the back-and-forth banter moving at a comfortable pace. Throughout the entire two hour play, Yeager keeps our focus where it should be – on the actions and reactions of Eric Weiss – while still giving the large cast of supporting characters their moments to shine.

Yeager also deserves kudos for his sleek and sophisticated set design, which prominently features a backdrop of tall, dark bookcases filled to the hilt with books and a handful of strategically placed vintage lamps. Overall, the effect is quite striking. However, one could easily have done without the clunky scene changes during which an entire roomful of furniture is hauled off and another roomful of furniture is assembled and placed while the audience watches and waits….Oy vey! That’s probably a minor quibble, though, in a production that is otherwise technically sound. Given that, a few more “mazels” go to costume designer Debbie Sullivan, lighting designer Mitchell Simkovsky, and technical director Mark Robertson for their uniformly excellent work on this show.

(Left to right): Cris O'Bryon and Paul Bourque. Photo courtesy of Scripps Ranch Theatre.

While its static scenarios and predictable plotline keep Brooklyn Boy from being a truly outstanding play, it is nevertheless a sincere and satisfying evening of theatre. With its moving, bittersweet dialogue and its fair share of character based chuckles, it may just be poignant enough to make you think about your own roots and what challenges and triumphs are inherent in leaving your past behind and connecting with your true spiritual identity.

For some of us, that takes a good deal of chutzpah. But, if Weiss’ personal journey is any indication, it might just be a trip worth taking.

Things to know before you go: Brooklyn Boy plays at Scripps Ranch Theatre through February 19th, 2012. Running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets are $22-$25. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (858) 578-7728 or visit www.scrippsranchtheatre.org.