Sunday, April 29, 2012


Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione.  Photo courtesy of
  Allegiance – A New American Musical
Music and Lyrics by Jay Kuo
Book by Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione
Sept. 7 – Oct. 21, 2012

Allegiance – A New American Musical is an epic story of family, love and patriotism set during the Japanese-American internment of World War II. Directed by Stafford Arima (Carrie, Altar Boyz), the World Premiere musical stars Tony Award-winning actress Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables), television and film icon George Takei (“Star Trek,” “Heroes”) and Broadway favorite Telly Leung (Godspell, Rent). With its moving score, Allegiance takes audiences on a journey through a watershed event in U.S. history as seen through the eyes of one American family.

David Lindsay-Abaire.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
 Good People
by David Lindsay-Abaire
Sept. 29 – Oct. 28, 2012

Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Shrek the Musical) explores the accessibility of the American Dream in his hit Broadway play. Set in South Boston, when Margie Walsh loses her job at the local dollar store and reaches out to an old flame she discovers that not everyone wants to remember their humble beginnings. Director Paul Mullins returns to the Globe where he previously directed the Shakespeare Festival productions of Macbeth, Measure for Measure, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Twelfth Night.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Book and Lyrics by Timothy Mason
Music by Mel Marvin
Original Production Conceived and Directed by Jack O’Brien
Nov. 17 – Dec. 29, 2012

Everyone’s favorite green meanie will return for his 15th consecutive year in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the heartwarming musical based on the classic book and animated film. James Vasquez returns to direct the beloved San Diego holiday tradition.

George Bernard Shaw.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
by George Bernard Shaw
Jan. 12 – Feb. 17, 2013

The Old Globe will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Pygmalion with a lavish production directed by Nicholas Martin. Returning after a 15-year absence to helm George Bernard Shaw’s masterwork, Martin previously directed the Globe productions of Later Life, Full Gallop, Overtime, Macbeth and The Mask of Moriarty. His Broadway credits include Present Laughter with Victor Garber and Butley with Nathan Lane.

Tarell Alvin McCraney.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
The Brothers Size
by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Jan. 26 – Feb. 24, 2013
Infused with music and the rhythms of the South, The Brothers Size blends West African mythology with a modern-day story of two brothers reuniting on the Louisiana bayou. Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney creates an emotional and theatrical tour-de-force that The Chicago Tribune called “the greatest piece of writing by an American playwright under 30 in a generation or more.” Director Tea Alagić, who directed the original production of The Brothers Size, reunites with McCraney for this Southern California Premiere.

Robert L. Freedman.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
Steven Lutvak.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.

 A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Book by Robert L. Freedman
Music by Steven Lutvak
Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, based on the novel Israel Rank by Roy Horniman
March 8 – April 14, 2013

Former Co-Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak returns to the Globe to direct this World Premiere musical of merriment and murder. When Monty Navarro finds out he is eighth in line to inherit a dukedom, he decides to eliminate the other seven heirs standing in his way – all played by one agile actor! A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a witty music hall comedy that explores how low we’ll go to make it to the top. A co-production with Hartford Stage.

Henrik Ibsen.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
A Doll’s House
by Henrik Ibsen
Adaptation by Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey and Kirsten Brandt
March 23 – April 21, 2013

The Globe has commissioned a new adaptation of Ibsen’s landmark of world drama expressly for its popular Classics Up Close series, which features dramatic masterworks performed in the Globe’s intimate theatre-in-the-round. Director Kirsten Brandt (Hold Please, Lobby Hero, Christmas on Mars, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow) returns to The Old Globe to team up with renowned Ibsen scholar Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey.

Jon Robin Baitz.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
Other Desert Cities
by Jon Robin Baitz
April 27 – June 2, 2013
Jon Robin Baitz’s (The Substance of Fire, “Brothers & Sisters”) play about long-buried secrets that threaten to put a once picture-perfect Palm Springs clan back on the tabloid pages. Currently a Broadway sensation, Other Desert Cities was recently named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist). Globe favorite Richard Seer (Life of Riley, The Last Romance) directs this viciously comedic look at the truth behind the wounds of a very public fall from grace.

Bekah Brunstetter.  Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.
Be a Good Little Widow
by Bekah Brunstetter
May 11 – June 9, 2013

When her husband’s business trip ends in tragedy, a young wife must reevaluate her life with the help of her mother-in-law – who just happens to be a professional widow. Playwright Bekah Brunstetter (MTV’s “Underemployed”) takes a look at the messy parts of life in the West Coast Premiere of her bittersweet comedy.

The Old Globe/University of San Diego Graduate Theatre Program will present Measure for Measure, Shakespeare’s wickedly comic play. Measure for Measure will run Nov. 10 – 18, 2012 in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. The nationally-renowned professional actor training program is an intensive two-year course of graduate study in classical theater. Ray Chambers directs.

Friday, April 13, 2012


The SD Drama King will be taking a two week “blog-break” from now until April 27th. I will still be seeing shows and conducting interviews, but won’t be posting anything during this two week “Spring Break” period. However, when I return, you can expect reviews of a number of eclectic shows and a handful of super-cool interviews. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ll be working on over my break:


“Winter Pops: Tribute to Ray Charles” by The San Diego Symphony

“Brownie Points” by Lamb’s Players Theatre

“TOTEM” by Cirque du Soleil


Tom Corbeil talks about his leap from opera superstar to playing Lurch in “The Addams Family” national tour

Hunter Foster gets real about his role in La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere musical, “Hands on a Hardbody”

And if you have any ideas for shows or interviews, feel free to contact The SD Drama King via e-mail at:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

THEATRE REVIEW: "THIS" at North Coast Repertory Theatre

The Game of “This”

North Coast REP mines the heart and humanity in Melissa James Gibson’s candid examination of middle age

By Donnie Matsuda

Jane is lonely and vulnerable.

Tom and Marrell are unhappy in their marriage and overwhelmed and exhausted with the demands of their infant son.

Alan is ready to change his name, change his lifestyle, and change his career.

And Jean-Pierre is….well….French. And a doctor. Without borders.

And then there’s This, the witty and insightful play penned by playwright Melissa James Gibson, which unites all five of these utterly urbane thirtysomethings and follows them as they re-examine their lives, question the choices they’ve made along the way, and search for the sources of their present-day unhappiness. You could certainly call it a mish-mash of five mid-life crises and the play even describes their collective condition as “a sudden sense of urgency mixed with intense exhaustion,” but in the hands of its gifted Canadian playwright, This becomes much greater than the sum of all its delicate and dysfunctional parts.

(L to R) Andrew Ableson, Courtney Corey, and Judith Scott. Photo courtesy of Aaron Rumley.

Originally produced in 2009 at Playwrights Horizons in New York, This received mixed reviews following its Off-Broadway opening. Some critics accused the play of being too scattered in its fast-paced, fractured style of storytelling while others were disappointed with the lack of dimension in its somewhat overly stereotyped characters. While it is true that Gibson’s language is idiosyncratic and her cast tends to substitute pithy remarks for emotionally deep reactions, the play actually achieves a great deal of authenticity and affection in the capable hands of North Coast REP’s top notch creative team and stellar five member cast. Here, in its San Diego premiere, This tries incredibly hard (and mostly succeeds) in bringing the delicate state of middle age to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

With razor sharp wit and intellectual insight, Gibson has crafted a quirky quintet of self-absorbed urban discontents. We watch with equal parts pity and glee as four of the five contemporary New Yorkers grapple with their feelings and faults as middle age looms on the horizon. First, there’s Jane (a thoroughly natural and heartfelt Courtney Corey). She’s an emotionally complex character who hides her grief at her husband’s untimely death and has subsequently neglected herself, her career (“I’m an aMAZing standardized test proctor”), and her 10 year old daughter. Meanwhile, Tom and Marrell’s (a laid back Richard Baird balanced by a nagging Judith Scott) marriage is very clearly on the rocks as they constantly bicker about not getting enough sleep, not getting enough sex, and desperately wanting to see - and sleep with - other people. And then there is Alan (a delightfully droll Andrew Ableson), who fits the classic stereotype of the bitchy, flamboyant gay Jew. As he describes one of his many predicaments to his dear friend Jane, “Not a laughing matter Jane. Outfits are important when you can’t rely on other things. I mean you’re lucky You still have two or three years left when you can attract people By Looks Alone. Whereas I’m not that fortunate…I’ve always had to reel them in with my humor and intellect that together work to obscure my physical shortcomings and it’s Completely Exhausting.”

And last but certainly not least there is the debonair French Doctor without Borders, Jean-Pierre (a slick and suave Matt Thompson) who grounds the piece with his fetching accent and his visions for improving the life and health of Africans though nonviolent humanitarian missions. Interestingly, and probably intentionally, his global concerns put the petty mid-life quibbles of the other four into perspective. As we see him through the eyes of others (Marrell lusts “Someone should have sex with him I mean he’s Someone Who Should Be Slept With I mean he Should Not Be Left Unslept With” and Alan quips “He can’t be a Doctor Without Borders Without A Television. It’s too goddamned much.”), we soon realize that he’s in a different mindset - and not just working on a different continent - than the rest of the Upper West Side gang.

(L to R) Richard Baird, Courtney Corey, Matt Thompson, and Judith Scott. Photo courtesy of Aaron Rumley.

Through it all, director Kirsten Brandt has her finger firmly on the eclectic pulse of Gibson’s choppy writing and pushes the fragmented dialogue forward at a comfortable pace. She keenly balances the poetic puns (is their water filter a Britta or a Breeta?) with the more serious back-and-forth banter so that they weave together seamlessly to effect some compelling and comedic, yet ultimately confounding, truths.

The sleek and sophisticated set by Marty Burnett is not only impressive with its spinning turntable and multifunctional furniture, but it is also an accurate replica of a fully furnished New York apartment. Add to that Matt Novotny’s complex lighting grid, which shifts dramatically from bright group scenes to dimly-lit performance sequences, Alina Bokovikova’s trendy costumes, and Paul Peterson’s slick sound design, and you have the perfect backdrop for this contemporary, cutting comedy.

While we never get to the bottom of This – what the enigmatic title of the play refers to – it doesn’t really matter. That’s because This is about the very indefinable and indescribable experience of life itself and hence, it means something different to each one of us. Regardless of our life trajectory, our profession, or our age, we can all consider it an important wake up call to examine where we stand, what’s truly important to us, and how we plan to forge ahead through the hilarious and heartfelt game that we call "life."

Things to know before you go: This plays at North Coast Repertory Theatre through April 29, 2012. Running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Wednesdays at 7pm, Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm and Sunday evenings at 7pm. Tickets are $32-$49 with discounts available for students and military. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (858) 481-1055 or visit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

THEATRE REVIEW: "The Turn of the Screw" at Intrepid Shakespeare Company

A Well-Oiled “Screw”

Intrepid Shakespeare Company gets the mood and macabre right in its briskly staged revival

By Donnie Matsuda

If death comes in threes, then perhaps ghosts come in twos.

At least that’s the case in The Turn of the Screw, an old fashioned English ghost story that was originally penned by Henry James in 1898 and later adapted for the stage by Jeffrey Hatcher in 1996. It is an eerie tale that spins its wicked web of intrigue and imagined spirits two by two. First, there are the play’s two main characters: The Man, played by Intrepid Shakespeare Company Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder Sean Cox, who covers a number of supporting roles (including an ominous uncle who wants his niece and nephew looked after, a goosy housekeeper Mrs. Grose, and a bright but misunderstood teenage boy named Miles) and The Governess, played by Intrepid Shakespeare Company Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder Christy Yael, who is brought to the barren country estate of Bly under the most mysterious of circumstances.

There, she is to care for two children: a teenage boy named Miles who was expelled from his boarding school for “corrupt” practices and a precious young girl named Flora who is so utterly haunted or so utterly shy (or both) that she can’t even speak a word. And the fascination with terrifying twosomes continues as the Governess begins to uncover more puzzling and disturbing details about the history of Bly manor. She learns from the estate’s bumbling housekeeper Mrs. Grose that the previous governess Miss Jessel and the manor’s valet Peter Quint (who together were quite a pair, apparently) mysteriously went missing and subsequently turned up dead. Soon, the Governess begins to see and hear the ghosts of these two house servants and becomes increasingly convinced that they are there to terrify and corrupt the innocence of the two children in her care.

Christy Yael and Sean Cox. Photo courtesy of Intrepid Shakespeare Company.

Of course, whether these ghostly visions are real or simply exist in the pent-up psyche of the Governess is a matter still debated to this day. In the play, we see everything though the eyes of the crazed Governess and witness both her real life interactions with the children and Mrs. Grose, while also hearing her verbalize the narrative-based thoughts racing through her head. Hatcher’s tightly-wound 75-minute script heightens the tale’s horror by focusing on the psychological drama and emotional trauma of the piece, but at the end of the play, it offers no real answers or easy solutions. It goes out on a limb in some respects, but doesn’t quite have the gripping, terrifying, and suspenseful quality one would expect from a chilling emotional thriller.

Fortunately, however, Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s production knows how to set the scene properly for this eerie tale and while it can’t completely overcome the lack of tense trepidation in the script, it still manages to tease and taunt with its creepy seduction. Most of its success is due to the two bravura performances delivered by the dynamic duo of husband-and-wife Sean Cox and Christy Yael. Yael captures both the dry wit and mounting hysteria of the Governess perfectly, while Cox shows off his versatility as he masterfully morphs from one supporting character to the next and then back again in the near blink of an eye. Together, these two terrific actors play off each other with an ease and eeriness that brings out the best (and the worst) in this quintessential ghost story.

Christy Yael and Sean Cox. Photo courtesy of Intrepid Shakespeare Company.

Director Jason Heil also deserves credit here for stepping back and allowing the trancelike tale to do its own seductive storytelling. As he strips away the conventions of the typical ghost story genre (there are no creaky doors or paranormal phenomena here), he instead relies on the talents of his two formidable actors and the ripe imaginations of his audience members to lend more than mere substance to the shadows. Heil’s brisk staging is further aided by a first rate technical team, which showcases simple stagecraft at its finest. Matt Scott surrounds his multi-level platform set in black curtains and allows the three-quarters-in-the-round audience to experience the intimacy and darkness that this haunting and harrowing play demands. And lighting designer Jason Beiber does a stellar job at casting the right shadows and coloring the right moods, while costume designer Beth Merriman features her ghoulishly Gothic creations to the sinister sounds of Adam Brick’s sound design.

With great economy, Intrepid Shakespeare Company manages to capture the macabre mood and ambiguous ambience that is at the heart of Hatcher’s play. While it may not be the most profound piece of theatre, it’s still a formidable Turn for the small Encinitas-based company and it is proof positive that two is always better than one.

Things to know before you go: The Turn of the Screw presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company plays at The Clayton E. Liggett Theatre at 800 Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas through April 15, 2012. Running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm; Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $25 with discounts available for students, seniors, and military. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (760) 652-5011 or visit