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Theater Reviews

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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‘Animal Crackers’ is bonkers!   

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

“The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.”  —Irving Berlin

Leave your critical and logical faculties at home when you head for Cygnet Theatre’s wild and woolly staging of the classic goofball Marx Brothers musical “Animal Crackers.” 

Most people know the 1930 film “Animal Crackers,” a truncated version that cut most of the songs. Now, Cygnet Theatre recreates the era and brings back the brothers in Henry Wishcamper’s stage adaptation of the original 1928 Broadway musical.

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‘Big Fish’ and tall tales  

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

I can identify with Edward Bloom. When he sings “We were born to wake each morn/Someplace we’ve never been,” that wanderlust gets to me too.

The difference is that I’m single and unencumbered. Edward is married, and son Will wishes his traveling salesman dad were around more, like for his soccer games.

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Another hit at Lamb’s Players

By Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review

On the heels of its magnificent “Shadowlands,” Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado continues its string of extraordinary productions with the San Diego premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky,” an absolutely delectable, mind-expanding examination of the early days of women in astronomy.

The most-produced living American playwright in 2016, Gunderson has several works seen or about to be seen in San Diego theaters, among them “Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet …” at New Village Arts last season, and “The Revolutionists” to be seen at Moxie Theatre in May.

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