Theater Reviews

A holiday classic

Posted: December 1st, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” may be the most adapted piece of literature around. A Wikipedia search lists 53 versions.

I’ve seen it countless times, but I’d never seen the 1994 musical version now on the boards at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. This one boasts music by multiple Oscar-winner Alan Menken (Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin”) and lyrics by Fred Ebb (“Cabaret”).

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The puppet from hell

Posted: November 3rd, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Times change. When I was a kid, the word “puppet” meant “The Howdy Doody Show.” Later it was “Sesame Street.” Then came “Avenue Q,” and puppets got sexy and vulgar and a little weird.

Now we have Robert Askins’ off-the-charts “Hand to God,” which posits a demonic puppet in the hands of Jason (Caleb Foote), son of the recently widowed Margery (DeAnna Driscoll).

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A ‘Legend’ grows

Posted: October 20th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

If Elvis can’t save the day, how about a drag queen or two? In Matthew Lopez’s sprightly “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” a man saves everything by discovering his inner woman. The play is at Cygnet Theatre through Nov. 12.

In Panama City, Florida, Casey (Spencer Bang) has been trying to make ends meet with an Elvis impersonation act he’s been doing at Cleo’s, a local bar owned by his friend Eddie (Lance Carter). But one night he arrives to find two drag queens in the dressing room.

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A Civil War epic

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Suzan-Lori Parks’ 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Topdog/Underdog” has its roots in the biblical story of Cain and Abel. And her “Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” is epic, too, but in a different way.

In “Wars,” now being staged locally by Intrepid Theatre Company, Parks takes U.S. history — specifically the Civil War and the country’s sad history of slavery — as a starting point, but includes a few classic references as well.

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Run to see ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Owning a flower shop on Skid Row is probably not high on anyone’s list of get-rich-quick schemes, and Mr. Mushnik, after enough years of near-starvation, is announcing the closure of his Skid Row Florists.

But Mushnik’s two employees have another idea. Nerdy clerk Seymour and pretty salesgirl Audrey suggest that putting a new, interesting plant in the front window might bring in potential customers. And it so happens that amateur botanist Seymour picked up a most intriguing variation of a Venus flytrap during a solar eclipse. He’s named it Audrey II.

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‘Sunset Boulevard,’ the musical

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Sunset Boulevard — that storied street of heightened dreams and dashed hopes — is still home to Norma Desmond, a faded Hollywood goddess of the silent screen era who refuses to recognize that the industry has changed and she is not what she once was.

Desmond, first seen in Billy Wilder’s classic 1950 noir film “Sunset Boulevard,” became a Broadway musical heroine in 1994 in a show with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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‘Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood!’ delights

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

It’s likely that Sherwood Forest and its inhabitants were never as frantic, nor as goofy, as it seems in “Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood!” — now in its world premiere at The Old Globe.

But that’s OK, since the main character has never been conclusively traced to a real person anyway. And most importantly, Ludwig has preserved the devil-may-care swashbuckler’s change from hard-drinking youth to crusader for justice and compassion, giving the story some contemporary relevance.

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An amazing ‘Guys and Dolls’

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Touts, burlesque dancers and mission dolls meet in Frank Loesser’s classic musical “Guys and Dolls,” getting a spectacular production through Aug. 13 at The Old Globe in Balboa Park.

Certainly among the top five American musicals of all time, The Globe joins with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida for a magnificently dance-heavy production based on Damon Runyon’s inimitable stories about life on the lower rungs of Manhattan society in the 1950s. “Guys and Dolls” opened on Broadway in 1950, won five Tony Awards, and has been a staple in the repertoire ever since.

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