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Theater Reviews

Pulitzer Prize winner ‘Disgraced’ does not disappoint

Posted: November 4th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Around the time Ayad Akhtar’s “The Who & the What” received its premiere at La Jolla Playhouse, it was announced that his earlier play, “Disgraced” would receive the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

This season, the Playhouse premiered Akhtar’s latest play, “Junk: the History of Debt,” and now, at last, San Diegans have the opportunity to see “Disgraced” in a fine, hard-hitting production that opened Oct. 26 at San Diego Repertory Theatre.

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Two by Wilson

Posted: October 21st, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Cygnet Theatre opened its repertory of two plays by August Wilson, “Seven Guitars” and “King Hedley II,” respectively, on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9.

Neither play has had full production in San Diego until now. The two plays are connected in that “Hedley” revisits the interactions and dependencies of some characters from “Guitars” and their descendants. The plays alternate performances through Nov. 6.

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A farcical delight

Posted: September 23rd, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge

The residency of Culture Clash founding member Herbert Siguenza at San Diego Repertory Theatre currently bears luscious fruit with the world premiere of the playwright/actor’s “Manifest Destinitis,” wondrously directed by Rep co-founder and artistic director Sam Woodhouse.

The farce is based on Molière’s “The Imaginary Invalid.” Siguenza resets the action in 1848-50 on an Alta California cattle ranch/ hacienda called Rancho Aragon.

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‘Oklahoma!’ is a musical extravaganza

Posted: September 9th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Charlene Baldridge

If opening night was any indication, New Village Arts has another musical hit on its hands, with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 Broadway musical, “Oklahoma!”

Not only that, there are new theater seats, still ample legroom, and a new soundboard (balance was still being worked out Saturday evening by sound designer Chad Goss). All other elements are there, the casting (director is debuting Teddy Eck), costumes (Mary Larson) and choreography (Julio Catano) are well nigh perfect, and any rough spots are likely to be smoothed during the run, which lasts until Sept. 25.

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A homecoming for ‘Lion King’ actor

By Charlene Baldridge

Actor Nick Cordileone is on the road and coming to a theater near you.

The San Diego native has got his act together.

Having had an exceptionally productive early career at Lamb’s Players (he estimates at least 40 productions) and other San Diego theaters, he left town in 2009, right after the close of the award-winning The Old Globe production of “Lobby Hero,” in which he played a leading role.

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‘New kid on the block’

Introducing the fledgling Backyard Renaissance Theatre

By Charlene Baldridge

In 2001, beauteous and talented actor Jessica John founded a homeless gypsy theater company called Backyard with her friend, actor Lauren Zimmerman Wilson. Sound: A whoosh of water under the bridge.

At precisely the same time, a talented San Diego newcomer Francis Gercke, a graduate of The Actors Studio Drama School at the New School for Social Research in New York, co-founded New Village Arts Theatre (with his then-wife Kristianne Kurner), now located in the village of Carlsbad. Whoosh of more time: John and Gercke, who’d been paired extensively together onstage, married.

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A Rose is a rose

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Many critics claim that “Gypsy, a Musical Fable,” the 1959 Broadway musical loosely based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs, is the perfect musical to emerge from the last half of the 20th century.

It has a book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and music by Jule Styne. Readers may judge for themselves through Sept. 4 at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town as performed by a company of 25 and a band of six, including conductor/keyboard Terry O’Donnell.

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‘Sense and Sensibility’ and sameness

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

What could be more enjoyable and beautiful on a summer evening in Balboa Park than seeing “Sense and Sensibility”?

It’s a new musical at the Old Globe, co-produced in association with Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST), where it premiered on Navy Pier last year. It’s based on Jane Austen’s romantic novel, with book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, remembered hereabouts for “Jane Eyre” at La Jolla Playhouse in 1999 and more recently, “Emma” at the Old Globe.

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Enigmatic ‘Tiger’ debuts at Playhouse

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

Who are these people in Jeff Augustin’s “The Last Tiger in Haiti,” these young Haitians living in tentlike shelter in 2008?

They are restaveks – child slaves who live out a sanctioned tradition in which poor families give children they cannot provide for to wealthier families, where they will have a better life until they’re 18. Or at least, that is the hope.

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