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San Diego Musical Theatre Presents Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Directed by Todd Nielson
Choreography by Lisa Hopkins

At Birch North Park Theatre
2691 University Ave.
SDMT: 858-560-5740

SDMT White Christmas

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Christmas time is a time of traditions. For me watching the movie White Christmas has always been one of them. My favorite Christmas movie. Last year San Diego Musical theatre brought the musical to life and I loved it. So this year when they did White Christmas and my mom waned to go I did not hesitate following in the tradition of watching my favorite.
This time around there were some old and new faces but it was just as fabulous if not more so this time around. The song and dance numbers are my favorite. All flat on - full out productions that could compete on Broadway. Kudos Lisa. It's hard  to pick a favorite but I love a Piano is simply fantastic fun.

The actors are warm, genuine, funny, and as endearing as the original movie cast. Although not quite the movie you can't beat a quality live production.

The story of two ex-soldiers, now in show business, who meet two girl's in show business, The follow them to Pine Tree Vermont for the Christmas Holidays. When they run into their old general who has fallen on hard times, they decide to bring their whole army company up for a Christmas Eve show and surprise him.

Of course as a woman I would be remiss if I didn't mention the beautiful costumes. Thanks Janet Pitcher.

Todd Du Bail played Bob Wallace, Jeffrey Scott Parsons reprised his role as Phil Davis, Laura Dickenson played Betty Hanes and Jill Townsend once again played Judy Hanes. Ed Hollingsworth played the General, Karla J. Franko played Martha Watson, nine year old Claire Scheper played little Susan, Brandon Joel Maier played Ralph, and William Cobb was Ezchial. The cast rounded out with Chelsea Franko, Joy Allen, Chris Duir, Sidney Franklin, Max Gidaley, Daniel Hansen, Regin a Haug, Kyle Hawk, Allison Knight, Danielle Levas, Bryan Martinez, Joy Newbegin, Megan Swanson, Katy Taub, and Stephanie Wolf.

The band singers were Paul Stteiger Bloomer, Phillip Cobb, Janie d'Avignon and Doug Schmitt, Of course there would be no show without the tremedously beautiful music from the twenty-two piece orchestra.

Kudos to all on a glorious show.

Why not make this show one of your Christmas traditions?


San Diego Musical Theatre Presents Ain't Misbehavin
The Fats Waller Musical Show
Sept.27 - Oct. 13, 2013
Thursday - Sunday

The Birch Northpark theatre
2691 University Ave.
Director and choreographer Ron Kellum


Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

A Smokin. Sassy, Smooth, evening of cool Jazz and swing music from the Golden age legend Thomas "Fats Waller.". Twenty six songs sung and performed by the extremely gifted voices of Rufus Bonds Jr., Slyvia MacCalla, Jenelle Randall, Amber Mercomes, and David Lamar. And What a fantastic job by pianist/conductor Lanny Hartwell.

Set in a Harlem club reminiscent of The Cotton Club in the thirties. Add in the razzle dazzle of the colorful sparkling costumes on the woman (fabulous), and the dapper suits on the gents mixed with the fun songs from Waller and you are transported into another era.

Amber Mercomes showed her almost operatic vocals in "Squeeze me". while Jenelle Randall .showed she could really hold a note during "Keepin Out of Mischief Now.". What range from all the singers. And the harmony on "Black and Blue" Magnificent.

Accompanied by the band of Greg Mckinney on Bass, Reed 1 David Burnett, Trombone John Meyers, drums Wreckless Watson, Reed 2 Earl Vaults, and Trumpet Jullian Davis.

So don't Misbehave and come on out for a great revue.

Up next White Christmas.


Premiere Productions Presents Something's Afoot @ At The Welk Resort

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Something's Affot

Directed by Randall Hickman
A Musical comedy Mystery. A Spoof on Agatha Christies Ten Little Indians.

Utterly Delightful!!! What a totally entertaining afternoon. (I took in the Sunday matinee)
I'd heard of the legendary duo of Hickman and Davis but living in East county hadn't had the opportunity
to enjoy one of their productions. First-rate pure entertainment.

Something's Afoot is a Don't Miss show.
You couldn't ask for a more talented ten-man cast. That kept you guessing until the end exactly who the culprit was.

What a job by Randall Hickman! He directed, choreographed, starred as Flint the Caretaker, did the Set decorations, costumes, wigs, publicity, and programs. A true man with many hats.
Doug Davis co-produced, starred as Clive the Butler, and built the set. The set was fabulous both in functionality and decor. What a Team.
Rounding out the multi-talented cast was Lisa Laughbaum, as Lettie the Maid, Karina Gillette, as Hope Langdon. Torre Younghans, as Dr. Grayburn. Gene Hicks, as Nigel, Sandra Kopitize, as Lady Manley Prowe, Rich LaFetra, as Colonel Gillweather, Eliane Weidauer, as Miss Tweed, and Charles Evans, as Geoffry.

Something's Afoot
Performs September 18th and 19th at 1:00pm
20th and 21st at 8:00pm
And 21st and 22 at 1:00pm
September 20th - October 6th
At their Broadway Vista Theatre
Catch Skin Deep


Lamb's Players Presents
The 39 Steps

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Lamb's Players Theatre Coronado Thru Sept 22, 2013
Tues - Thurs 7:30. Fri - Sat  4:00 / 8:00, Sun - 2:00
Box office 619.437.6000 ....

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from a movie by Alfred Hitchcock
from the Novel by John Buchan
Directed by Deborah Gilmour Smyth

39 Steps
Lamb's Player's Theatre's madcap English adventure romp:
The 39 Steps: Pictured Kelsey Ventner and David S. Humphrey.

The movie of the 39 Steps launched Spy Thrillers as a movie Genre. One of the best spy movies to date. This is a spoof of the movie and of Hitchcock movies in general.

When summer heat gets you down head to Coronado Theatre for some relief and fun. This play is non-stop laughter, hi-jinks, and totally entertaining.

Takes place in London 1935. The set starts in a the flat of Richard Hannay with Richard bemoaning his hum drum life. Which soon takes a turn and leads us on a adventure through the moors. Depending a lot on imagination. That's what makes it fun.

Although only four actors in the play, they were each amazing. David S. Humphrey as the outstanding Richard Hannay. Kelsey Venter with such diverse females characters. Jesse Abeel as the Mr. Bean of the ensemble, incredible. And the fabulous Robert Smyth. Abeel and Smyth played so many character, so fast and so well they were truly miraculous.

If you see one play this summer this should be the one.

Up next for Lambs's Players is Wit starting October 4th, 2013/


Lamb's Players Presents
Fiddler on the Roof

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
Book by Joseph Stein
Lyrics by Sheldon Harrick from the stories of Sholem Aletchem

The wedding of Tevye's oldest daughter Tzeitel (Charlene Koepf) to Motel the tailor (Brandon Joel Maier).

Lamb's Players Theatre
May 29 -July 28
Tues - Thurs 7:30. Fri - Sat  4:00 / 8:00, Sun - 2:00
Box office 619.437.6000 ....
Directed by Robert Smyth & Deborah Gilmour Smyth
musical director G. Scott Lacy
Choreography by Colleen Kollar Smith
Fiddler on the Roof was joyful, engaging and heart-felt. The story is based on Marc Chagall's painting " The Fiddler." The fiddler was a tradition in Jewish communities playing at weddings, funerals, and festivals. As for being on the roof. It takes great balance to be able to stand on the tip of and play the fiddle. Not something I would want to try even if I could play the fiddle.

The story is about Tevye a dairyman and trying to balance his life as a father as he raises five daughters, The setting is 1905 Anatevka, a village in the Russian empire.

The production revolves around Tevye and would not be good without someone great. The Smyth’s found the powerful voice of Sam Zeller to fill the part. What a tremendous job. The entire cast rocked it.

From the grandiose opening of "Traditions" until the heart rendering end when they are forced to leave the homes they love
I loved the numbers Traditions, Matchmaker Matchmaker and Sunrise Sunset, the special effect of Jessica Couto as Grandma Tzeitel, and the tremendous wedding dance with the bottles balanced on the dancers heads, that was just amazing. Adding even more to the tremendous show.

The cast rounds out with Deborah Gilmour Smyth as Golde, Charlene Koepf as Tzeitel, Caitie Grady as Hodel, Mega Carmitchel as Chava, Emlyn Helmbacher as Shrintze, Tess Maretz as Bielke, Kerry Meads as Yente, the matchmaker, John Rosen as the Lazar, Brandon Joel Maier as Motel, Charles Evans as Perchik, Anton Fero as Fyedka, Sandy Campbell as Fruma Sarah, john Polhamus, Jesse Abel as Mendel, Brandon Sherman as Avram. Danny Campbell as the Rabbi, Jason Heil as the constable, Christopher Nelson as the beggar, Nicole Elledge as Ester, Jordan Miller as Sasha, Apollo Blatchley as Ivan, Luke Harvey Jacobs as Yuri, and the fabulous Ernest Saucedo as The Fiddler.

I also enjoyed the fact the band were costumed in period costumes. The were onstage and became part of the ambiance. The band featured Mark Daniosovszky, Diana Elledge, Chuck Elledge, Anton Fero, Melissa Mejia, and Stefanie Schmitz.
If you are a smart man ,,,, Find your way to Fiddler on the Roof soon.

Coming in August Hitchcock's 39 Steps.





Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

May 10 - May 26, 2013
Birch North Park Theatre

Music by Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein
Book by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse
Suggested by " The Story of the Trapp Family Singers"
Directed/'choreographer Todd Neilson
Set Design JR Bruce
Costumes Janet Pitcher

North Park is Alive with The Sound of Music.  Wholesome, romantic and warm-hearted. Filled with Angelic voices. And what could be a happier sound the children singing and playing cheerfully in harmony. Mr. Neilson did a amazing job handling the 29 member cast.

The story is about Maria a young postulant who is not entirely good at the life of a nun. The Mother Abbess sends her away to be a governess for the seven Von Trapp children. For Captain Von Trapp with is militant approach to child rearing since his wife’s death. That's when he's home. Austria 1938. In his absence the servants carry on as if he's there.

When Maria meets the children he calls them each with there own whistle signal. And tells Maria she will also have one. Marching is their daily exercise. Maria refuses his whistle and the tone is set. Maria of course wins the children over with her guitar and music. She teaches them to sing with Do Re Mi.

Also, among the musical numbers my favorite, My Favorite things. Maria, Climb Every Mountain, Edelweiss, Sixteen going on Seventeen, and The Sound of Music.

Allison Spratt Pearce plays the vivacious Maria. Randall Dodge is his usual fabulous self as the stern cold Captain until Maria wins his heart. The children were all great. But it was six-year old Gabriella Dimmick cute as a  hummingbird flitting about the stage that stole the audience's heart. Smart and talented too as she sang along and kept up with the other kids.
Victoria Strong's as Mother Abbess brought the audience to their feet at the end of the play after her beautiful rendition of Climb Every Mountain

Well cast the rest of the cast was superb. The orchestra flawless, the set fitting and the costumes similar to the movie, including Maria's ugly dresses.

Loved by the entire audience.

Climb Every Mountain in your way to see one of your favorite plays.

The San Diego Musical Theatre brings you "Ain't Misbehavin" in September.



JCC Presents

Hello Dolly

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Friday, May 03 - Sunday, May 12
8:00 PM-10:00 PM
David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre, JC

Directed by Joey Landhewr
Musical direction by Susan Huniu
Choreography by Kaylie Caries

In only takes a moment one magical moment to become enraptured by the JCC company's rendition of Hello Dolly. Funny, endearing, and pure delight.
Most theatre audiences are probably familiar with Barbra Streisand's Hello Dolly. Forget Barbra. No one is Barbra, Now come out and enjoy Michelle Guefen as Dolly.

She brings her own unique flair to the role. Captivating and charming.

Hello Dolly is the story of Dolly Levi, matchmaker, and arranger of things. She sets in motion several romances as we follow her from Yonkers New York to New York city.
The play is filled with such wonderful songs as It takes Woman, Put on Your Sunday Clothes,Before The Parade Passes by, Elegance, It Only takes a Moment, and of course Hello Dolly.
Cornelious Hackl, played by Joshua Stein, Barnaby Tucker, played by Samuel Brogadir, Irene Malloy, played by Kimberly Marron, and Minnie Fay,
played by Gabi Leibowitz, were the most true to film characters. My favorites because they did such a great job recreating characters I love.

The cast is rounded out with Evan Bramberg as Horace Vandergelder, Rebecca Myers as Ernestina, Danya Greenberg,as Ermengarde, and Scott Peterson as Ambrose, in the main cast.
Of course they were helped out by a huge ensemble and cast of dancers. Who brought Dolly's world to life.

I want to give kudos to the choreographer for the supreme job with the dancers. They were so in-step even down to the littlest one. Great job.
Highly recommended not to Let The Show Pass You By !!!



Welk Theatre San Diego Presents
By Kathy Carpenter

March 22, - June 2, 2013
Call 888-802-7469 for tickets

Director and Choreographer Ray Limon

When You're at The Welk the Welk is Good To You. Quality entertaining fun. Chicago will wow and delight you.

Adultery, Murder, sensationalism, and celebrity, what more can you ask for? Incredible music and fantastic dance numbers. Chicago has all that jazz.

Follows the story of Roxy Hart as she murders her lover, goes to jail, trial, and life afterward. Takes place in the Jazz age of the twenties.

Showstopper goes to RC Sands as Mary Sunshine the audience loved him. Adreienne Storrs as Roxy Hart reminded me of Drew Barrymore. With the sweet southerness going on beneath the big smile. The perfect Roxy. Natelie Nucci played the tough Velma Kelly. Both were simply incredible. Randall Dodge as the charming Billy Flynn the kind of dastardly villain of the old melodrama’s. And then we has Shaun Thomas as Amos Hart, Roxy's invisible husband, until he lights up the stage in Mr. Cellophane. One of my favorite numbers.

Another favorite number was Valerie Gleason's rendition of When You're Good to Mama. Of course who wouldn't love the opening number of All That Jazz and the second half's Razzle Dazzle.

Thanks to the five talented musicians Justin Gray, Mick Masessa,
Elizabeth Meeker, Mark Margolies, and Kevin Esposito who brought the show to life.

You may have seen Chicago at the civic with Christie Brinkley last season but in the scheme of things even though that production was big Broadway. They had nothing on the Welk. I enjoyed this more.






Let the Welk Razzle Dazzle you soon.


Community Actors Theatre Presents Mack & Mabel Thru March 31
7957 54th St., San Diego, 92105
Street parking * Intimate Venue

Based on an idea by Leonard Spigelglass
Book by Michael Stewart
Music & Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Directed by George Bailey & Kristen Fogle

Mack & Mabel is funny, snazzy, glamorous tale of the rocky relationship between Hollywood director and innovator of comedy such as : The Bathing Beauties and Keystone Cops, Mack Sennett, and Flatbush waitress turned star Mabel Norrman. A Romance. During the 20's as told by Sennett

The original play aired in 1974 with Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters and won seven Tony s.

After a two year absence from acting Mark S. Butterfuss made his San Diego acting debut as Mack Sennett. His return to the theatre couldn't have been better both me and my mom raved over his performance. Not only did Kristin co-direct the play she did a fabulous job as Mabel.

Another stand out performance would have to go to Beverly Baker as Lottie, also making her San Diego stage debut. A former Nashville singer. However the entire sixteen member cast totally rocked it. A fete accomplished by the directors no doubt in such a small space to have so many people moving, dancing, singing, going in and out constantly without a hitch.

The Cat's Meow! If you get a chance see it.


Rogers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Reviewed by Kathy Carppenter

Welk Theatre San Diego
Jan 4 - Mar 17, 2013
South Pacific
 Welk Resorts Theatre
 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, CA 92026
 (760) 749-3000 x22148

Directed and Produced by Bravo 2012 winner Joshoa Carr
choreographed by Ray Limon

The wonderful, funny, and still spry and beautiful Mitzi Gaynor was brought out at the begging of the show in honor of the 55th Anniversary. She will performing three shows at the Welk in October so mark your calendars now. Of course some of you will remember Mitzi from the movie version of South Pacific. In Mitzi words " Josh has done an incredible job with this production. Better than most renditions she has seen."

Old-fashioned romance in a tropical paradise. What romantic doesn't fantasize about something similar? One difference between a movie and a play is your are right there. A part of the fantasy so to speak.

South Pacific is a romance on a tropical island during world war 11. The trouble in paradise is prejudice. Not a realistic conflict so much these days. At least between the couple who are so attracted to each other. But in those days it worked.

The set was a beautiful tropical background. With the orchestra playing those wonderful romantic fun songs of Rogers & Hammerstein. Including Some enchanted Evening, I going To Wash That Man Right our of my Hair, and Bali Hai. What do I like most about this play? I would say the music because it so beautiful setting the perfect tone for the fanciful, fun, wartime adventure.

Emile Dubeque was played by sexy, smooth, Randall Dodge. With sweet naive Hannah James playing Nellie Forbush. Brenda Oen was a terrific Bloody Mary. Shaun Leslie Thomas brought Billus to life and Michael Prohaska made me believe he was a captain as captain Brackett.

Start your New Year out right enjoy a touch of romance with someone special.

Coming to the Welk next in March Guy & Rayna  and Chicago.


Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

March 1-17, 2013
David & Dorthea Garfield Theatre
Jacobs Family Campus-  La Jolla

Artistic Director Joey Landwehr
Musical director Tim McKnight
Choreographer Roxane Carrasco

Hello Everyone, Our name is J Company. What's yours?

You may ask yourself why is a youth group doing a play about a stripper? Landwehr says it's about family, and becoming who you are. And that no matter what anyone says about you, you are beautiful inside and out.

Gypsy is the third play in the Streisand season to bee followed by Hello Dolly in May. The autobiography of Gypsy Rose Lee. It follows the early life of two sisters and their overbearing stage mom Rose as they plod through the vaudeville circuit.

With many songs you know and love. Let me Entertain You.
Everything is Coming Up Roses. Some People and If mama were Married.

My favorites in this play were Baby June played by Nika Sadr who lit up the stage with her smile. Perfect for her role. Dainty Louise, played by Natelie Bialostozky, a talent that will take her a long way. Herbie, played by Ian Laugbaum, who held his own with Rose. Mara Jacobs as Gypsy Rose Lee/Louise who was able to show a wide array of act=ing. And the True star of the show Lindsey Grant as Mama Rose. Who brought down the house with her final mash-up of Rose's Turn, and Everything is Coming Up Roses.

The show very much resembled the movie for those of you that remember Rosiland Russell and Natalie Wood. wonderful costumes including the cow.

Favorite number has to go to You have To Have a gimmick. A number with three of the strippers teaching Gypsy. I could not believe how well Michelle Guefen recreated Mazeppa from the movie

Let J Company Entertain you soon!


By: Simon Stephens
Directed by Glenn Paris
Ion Theatre 3704 Sixth Ave. San Diego 92103
Feb. 9 to March 9
619 600 5020
Reviewed by Diane Dunaway Kramer

Empowered by Glenn Paris’s hard-hitting direction, “Punk Rock,” Simon Stephen’s highly successful drama, is like watching a high-wire trapeze artist performing without a net.  You can’t look, but you can’t look away either. 

Set in Northern England in Manchester, the play was first performed in the U.K. in 2009.  The story explores the underlying tensions and potential violence among a group of bright and tortured seventeen year old students. This intense, sometimes unnerving, story explores their lives as they struggle within the Lord-of-the-fly ethics of young adult society and, at the same time, compete in crucial standardized exams whose out-come will determine the rest of their lives. 

You may love the play.  You may hate it.  But it will probably be a little of both. 

You may love it for the excellent acting, soaring way above the norm, especially for such a young cast.  You may love the way it makes you ‘think’ afterwards and the discussion it prompts, wherein people consider their own teen fears and fury and may open up memories they might never have shared.  But you might hate it as well because there is no compromise here and no prisoners taken.  It is a window into a world where most of us survived and often hoped to escape.  It’s High School, with its sex, its violence, and the cruel tumult, where the ‘popular kids’ seem invulnerable but, in truth, are suffering, in their own way, just as much as the smeared-into-the-dirt ‘weak ones.’ 

The play has particular relevance in this moment as we explore, discuss and debate the rights, responsibilities and real danger of weapons in our communities and particularly in schools. While this plot of violence among troubled students might have been shocking in 1999 England considering strict British gun laws, the idea of kids’ bullying evolving into gun-blasting violence seems all too familiar to American audiences who are coping with this new normal and have many wondering how keep their children safe.

Rather than wondering ‘if’ the characters will become violent, American audiences are likely to be asking themselves, ‘when?’

Melanie Chen’s sound design injects the scenes with a low rumble that in the beginning mimics a random low roar that might be mistaken for equipment running somewhere in the building before it crescendos into a violent growl that underlines the action with driving tension.

punk rock punk rock 2
Lilly (Lizzie Morse) and William (J. Tyler Jones)
Punk Rockers: left to right - Tanya (Samantha Vesco, Lilly (Lizzie Morse), William (J. Tyler Jones), Nicholas (Ryan Casselman),
Cissy (Samantha Littleford) and Bennett (Benjamin Cole)

William, played convincingly by J. Tyler Jones, appears both considerate and outgoing, even as you sense the fragile nature of his mental state within his lies and deep need for any show of acceptance. 

The school bully, Bennett is played angry and mean.  Benjamin Cole imbues the role with the essence of every teen’s nightmare as the person you never want to cross, even as he goads you to do so.

Cissy is attractive and intelligent but can’t fight back as she is so dominated by Bennett, who she seems to have made her boyfriend more out of self-defense than true affection.  Samantha Littleford shows us Cissy’s inner fury that threatens like a gas leak waiting for a flame so the audience wonders how big the explosion will be and how fatal the damage.

The most vulnerable is Chadwick, a victim with little or no defense. David Ahmadian is convincing as Chadwick seeming to drown in his own fear at the relentless aggression.  We all hurt with his inability to ever back Bennett down and watch as he further descends into self-hatred and depression.

Pretty Lilly is trying to understand who she is and find feelings buried under layers of suppressed pain, so overwhelming that she burns herself to just feel ‘something.’ Lizzie Morse allows the audience into the hurricane-eye of Lilly’s mood swings which seem to roil between homicide and suicide but settle on self-preservation…for now.  Morse expresses the complexity of Lilly’s inner horrors with an authenticity that is noteworthy in such a young actor.

Trying to escape into a fantasy romance with her teacher, Tanya tries to be the peace-maker; turning from gentle warnings to fury, but always helpless to change the outcome. Samantha Vesco inhabits the role with skill and sensitivity.

Popular but disengaged, Nicholas is a jock who just tries to survive and indulge himself as he turns a blind eye to the suffering and building violence around him. Ryan Casselman plays the role with easy believability.

In essence this play is well done and extremely well cast.  It’s the play people will discuss and reconsider far after the curtain drops.


Music by John Kander
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
February 15- March 3, 2013
Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, Birch North Park Theater, 2891 University Ave, San Diego 92104
Tickets: 858- 560-5740

Reviewed by Diane Dunaway Kramer

 “Chicago,” John Kander's Prohibition-era comedy/drama, is a classic in the finest sense and winner of six, well-deserved, Tony Awards.

“Chicago,” is a satirical look at corruption, the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the ‘celebrity’ criminal.  Set in 1929, it is the story of Roxey Hart and Velma Kelly who both murder the men in their lives.  The story follows them from the hopelessly guilty and seemingly condemned murderers to their rise to prominence, acquittal and eventually fame.

Originally a 1925 play of the same name, “Chicago” was written by reporter, Maurine Dallas Watkins, who based the work on real crimes which she covered for the press.  Later, as a musical, it was given the high-energy score that supports the dynamite song and dance numbers and was choreographed by legendary, Bob Fossee.  However the work came to stellar prominence when it appeared to great acclaim as the Academy Award-winning film by the same name, staring, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly and the one-of-a-kind, Queen Latifah.

In this production, capably directed by Ron Kellum, San Diego Musical Theatre has done a first-rate job of bringing this classic to life with top-notch casting and execution (no pun intended).

The sets are minimal and include an excellent, roaring-twenties band that resides on stage and acts as an additional character with Don Le Master conducting and now and again providing another dimension of humor to the audacious, larger than life, characters. 

Janet Pitcher's dazzling costumes were perfect for the period and the actors, as well as the demanding dance moves.  Overall, this production is true to its original excitement and fun and is a perfect, date show.  Should if you think of bringing the kids, maybe leave the younger teens home, unless you want to do lots of ‘splaining.’ 

chi1 chi2

Emma Radwick plays Roxie, a sizzling wannabe vaudevillian and murderess who kills her ex-boyfriend after a spat and is sent to jail where most of the action takes place. Radwick does a fabulous, sexy performance in, ‘Roxie’ which soars into a rocking’-out, bring-down-the-house riot of a number worth the price of admission all by itself.

Kyra Da Costa, plays the calculating Velma, a vaudevillian and murderess who is on trial for killing her cheating husband and sister. She is represented by lawyer Billy Flynn, (Robert J. Townsend) and competes with Roxie Hart over Flynn’s services.  Da Costa lights up the stage with ‘All That Jazz” and her smile electrifies the stage along with her powerful belt and winning dance moves.

Robert J. Townsend plays Billy Flynn, Velma and Roxie's lawyer who gains sympathy, sways public opinion and wins cases by making celebrities of his clients.  Townsend is perfect in the role as the handsome, smooth and manipulative lawyer whose ego overrides everything except his greed as he preys upon the worst instincts of human nature.  Townsend, who has spent a number of seasons on the San Diego stage in such roles as Sweeney Todd, once again demonstrated the range of his talent as he charms the audience with ‘All I Care About Is Love,’ backed up with a chorus of fan dancers.

Mary Sunshine, a sympathetic tabloid columnist who reports on the murderesses, is played by A. Saunders who performs, ‘A little Bit of Good,’ with convincing' sweetness' and embodies the play’s message that 'nothing is as it seems.'
Amos Hart, played convincingly by Jason JamesMusi (a part originally played by Joel Grey) spends most of the play trying to make Roxie love him or even just acknowledge his existence. He is the good guy who continually gets the shaft from the ‘players’ whose manipulations befuddle him even as he can't seem to stop caring about them.

The cast also includes Ria Carey, Marisha Castle, Chris Cortez, Alexis Henderson, Jason James, Aurore Joly, Andrew Koslow, Ariel Lowell, Mike Motroni, Marco Puente, Joshua Ross, Chuck Saculla, Jennifer Simpson, Katie Whalley, Matthew Williams.

All I can say is don't miss this show. Certainly this is the best San Diego production of “Chicago” in recent memory. The voices are tremendous, the dancing first rate, and the physically beautiful cast provides eye candy for every preference. In a word, the audience was 'wowed' and you'll find this an evening of pure escape and theatre fun at its best.



Irving Berlin's
White Christmas

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

San Diego Musical Theatre
Birth North Park Theatre
December 14th - 23rd

Directed by Todd Nielson
Choreographed by Lisa Hopkins

Festive, Colorful, Heartwarming and fun. Everything a Christmas play should be.

Based on the beloved Christmas classic film  the play features seventeen Irving Berlin songs. For true movie buffs the play does vary slightly.

This heartwarming musical showcased the talented David Engel as Bob Wallace, Jeffrey Scott Parsons as Phil Davis, Laura Dickinson as Betty Hanes, and Jill Townsend as Judy Haynes.

My favorite characters were Ezekiel with his wonderful timing played by William Cobb. Casey Hall-Landers as Susan. A young talent who will surely go far. And Karla Franko as the busybody Martha Watson. Of course there is no White Christmas without General Waverly played by Ed Hollingsworth. I always get tears at the part when they sing "We will follow the old man wherever her will go."

White Christmas is the story of two army buddies who went on to singing fame. When they follow two girls to Vermont at Christmas time. They discover their old general is the owner of an old Inn that’s is in dept. They decide to bring there whole show up to Vermont and put on a show to help the general out. Of course they fall in love along the way.

If you love the film you will love the play. Treat yourself you deserve it.



Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter 

Written and Directed by Kerry Meads
Musical Director Jon Lorenz
Through December 30th
Lamb's Players Theatre Coronado

In this season of blessings I want to say as a reviewer how fortunate we are in San Diego to have the quality of talented performers, directors, and venues of which to attend plays. Time and time again I'm amazed as I go out to see these plays and am throughly entertained. Chances are if you see a play advertised you think you would enjoy you probably will. Take the time to go out and support the arts while you escape the stress of everyday life. A win win for all.

Festival of Christmas if chosen will not disappoint. Meads and Lorenz did a fantastic job bringing this cast of eleven talented performers together for a wonderful Christmas experience.

Set in present day in a mountain hideaway in the Western United States, December 23 through Christmas day. When a tree falls across the road in a blizzard, ten weary strangers are brought together in the cabin of Manny played by Leonard Patton. Who I like to think was part of the magic of Christmas who brought this diverse group of travelers together to heal them so they could move on with their lives.

The favorite part of Christmas for Parker played by Joanne Barber and Gene Wisdom played by the extremely talented Jon Lorenz, is the music. And the music of Christmas is what brought the strangers together. Each actor played one or several instruments along with singing. Beautiful voices adding a Caribbean kind of beat to Christmas music. Some familiar songs and some new arrangements - all magical.

The talented cast also included Nathan Person as Big Dee, Bryan Barbarin as Roderick, Chris O' Bryon as Charlie, Anton Fero, as Carson, Paula Steiger Bloomer, as Taylor, Season Bowers as Noelle, David Kirk Grant, as McFadden and Remy Corbin as little Posey.

The cast has put together a Cd of the fantastic Christmas music sold in the lobby after the show. A special gift for a friend or loved one.

A special shout out to Michael McKeon for the warmth and comfort and bringing the perfect lodgelike feel to the set.

Festival of Christmas a magical Christmas treat.




Poster for the Play My Three Angels

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter 

Stagehouse Theatre
Playing December 6, 7, 8th at 7:30, and Dec. 8th at 2:00pm
Grossmont College

Based on La Culisine Des Anges - by Albert Husson

First off as a reviewer I want to say I appreciate the fresh ways theatres keep coming up with to take care of housekeeping at the beginning of plays. The do and don't of the theatre. In this case the rules were read in French and then repeated by someone with a French accent, Setting the tone of the play. Set in the back of a store in Cayenne, French Guiana, Christmas Eve 110.

The director of this play Jerry Hager says the movie version of this play is the 1955 We're No Angels. That classic along with It's A wonderful Life and Miracle of 34th St. were his family staples and favorites to celebrate the season. when he was growing up.

If you have never seen the play this is a Wonderful story of three unlikely characters who take over the task of watching over a family. Three convicts who are working on the roof of the Ducotel family. The wife is mistrustful fearing they will be murdered. The husband is a mild and meek man who lets all his customers walk all over him. Their daughter beautiful and missing the boyfriend she left behind in France,

The convicts climb down a ladder into the Ducote's home to find Marie Louise reading a letter she has just received, She faints dead away. Immediately they are drawn to her beauty and want to help. Then the mom enters and finds the convicts with her daughter. She thinks the worst. But they manage to convince her they are trying to help her. In gratitude she invites them to Christmas Eve dinner,

That's the set up for an extremely funny play. This was my third time seeing My Three Angels as a play. The Grossmont College version was just as funny as the other two renditions. The secret is the Angels they make the show, In this case Adam Weiner as Alfred the salesman – bookkeeper and mine and my sister's favorite in the first half, But in the second half Jake Rosko as Joseph came in a close second. And then there was Aaron Duggan as the smitten Angel Jules.

The Ducotel family, the wonderful Kate Hewitt as Emily, Ralph Johnson as Felix, and Janelle Urie as Marie Louise. Rounding out the cast was Jacob Hoff as Paul the boyfriend and Frank Remiattie as his uncle Henri Touchard. Stephanie Johnson as Mme Parole and Shane Monaghan as the Lieutenant.

Standing ovation to a full house you can't ask for more.

Stop by this season to catch one of the upcoming quality shows.




Holiday Spirit

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter 

Playing at the Scripps Ranch Theatre
November 10th through December 9, 2012.
Legler Benbough Theatre Alliant International University

Holiday Spirits Review – Fresh Twist on Christmas Classics

A good Christmas play is heartfelt. An excellent Christmas play is heartfelt and hilarious. When you step through the doors of the intimate setting of the Scripps Theatre playhouse with theater style seating you are immediately drawn into the set. .The home of a couple decorated for Christmas. Homey and comfortable. With Christmas carols playing softly in the background. And a slightly off balance Christmas tree set up mid-stage.

When the play opens the husband comes in struggling with a giant cardboard cutout of Elvis that lights up with blue Christmas lights. Elvis and Christmas what do those things have in common? The husband is a huge Elvis fan. and it's Christmas Eve. That's where the story begins.

Then the wife enters the picture and begins packing things into boxes. The couple is divorcing, it's Christmas Eve and a realtor is coming by in awhile to show the house to prospective buyers. The couple bicker back and forth until the electricity suddenly goes out. That's when the fun begins. The wife goes to check on the breakers.

While she's gone a very young Elvis appears to the husband and tells him he will visited by three couples that night. Sounding familiar? First is the appearance of a lady dressed like Mother Christmas who they take as the realtor. Followed by the first duo,. a young Goth couple. Next we have the guru and his disciple, and last the older Jewish couple. Elvis also makes three appearances. Aging progressively in each subsequent visit.
Holiday Spirits is a mash-up of Christmas Carol, It's a wonderful Life, and O'Henry's Gift of The Magi.

The end is somewhat predictable. But isn't that also what we want in a good Christmas tale. To feel the warmth and comfort of hearth and home.

The play is filled with colorful characters and is a riot. A laugh a minute.

Holiday Spirits consisted of nine cast members who played their roles to perfection. Kevin Six and Bobbie Heiland who played the All-American older divorcing couple. J. Tyler Jones, Ben Cole and Haig Koshkarian who played not only versions of Elvis but the significant others in one of the couples. Maelyn Gondola and Sara Lynn Andrzejewski who both played double roles. And last but certainly not least the extremely funny D'AnnPaton as the realtor.

This was the World premier for Holiday Spirits and the writer director Jim Caputo said in a Q and A afterwords that six weeks ago he handed the cast a hundred page script and by tonight only two pages remained unchanged. He gave full credit to his incredible cast for pulling off what is sure to become a Christmas classic in it's own right. Caputo also said he is not an Elvis fan. Which is hard to believe if you watch the play.



REVIEW: Around The World In 80 Days

The "West Coast Premeir
Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Lambs players theatre Coronado Ca
Playing through november 18

Adapted by Laura Eason
from the novel by jules Verne
directed by Robert Smyth

Around the World in 80 days

When you think of Around The World in 80 Days you probably recall the hot air balloon from the from Michael Todd's 1956 movie. The book doesn't actually have a balloon and neither does this wonderful adaptation.

Phileas Fogg's life is routine. He's is predictable down to the minute and he likes it. His valet Passerpartout wants nothing more than the life of peace Fogg leads. Together they take us on a journey you won't soon forgot.

80 days although a simple plot of Fogg who takes the bet of three contemporaries to Journey around world in 80 days. The man of mathematical precision and his valet of many talents with a circus background lead us through their travels around the world.

At first Phileus is his usual self but then he saves Kamana life and little by little he changes as he falls subtly in love. Basically a romance.

Lance Arthur Smith played the serious Phileus Fogg. Bryan Barbearan the fabulous Passerportout. Who with a voice like his could easily sing opera. Kaja Amado Dunn as Kamana Aouda. And Jon Lorenz as Inspector Fix. The cast was rounded out by four absolute talented wonders who played many roles of the people of the world. Jessie Abeel, John Rosn, Bryan Rickel, and Caitie Grady.

The play is set in 1872 London and travels throughout the world. The set was incredible with s second story about fifteen feet up set to look like a ship. With maroon velvet curtains flowing down and gilded edging to give it the showboat look. With ladder steps that slide back and forth wherever needed. Very impressive. As was the elephant and sled that rose from the ground.

Lambs Players has done a superb job with this one. Take an evening go back into time and let your imagination take you on the trip of a lifetime.


REVIEW: Les Miserables

LES MISÉRABLES 	AUGUST 28 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 - An Extra Event

Revuewed by Kathy Carpenter

Based on an 1862 novel by Victor Hugo
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell

Civic Center downtown San Diego

A marriage of passion and power. Strong powerful characters wringing the emotions out of you.

Les Miz is a true musical. A story told through the songs. Very little talking. Even so you can pretty much follow along with the story. Basically a story of redemption and love.

The story of Jean Valjean played by the brilliant Peter Lockyer, who after serving his time on the chain gang finds the ticket he must where alerting others to the fact, leaves them to treat him poorly.The only person who will help him is the Bishop.

In return Valjean steals some silver from him. Valjean is caught but the Bishop forgives him. Valjean starts life anew. He runs into Fantine who has had a run of bad luck trying to get medicine for her daughter whom she has had to leave in anothers care. Fantine dies but not before Valjean agrees to help her daughter Cosette.

Her raises Cosette as his own. Cosette falls in love with Marius. The plot follows along with these character tragedies and triumps. This is the simplified story.

Fantine is played by Betsy Morgan, Cosette by Lauren Wiley. Marius by Max Quinlan.

My favorite scenes were with the Innkeeper (Timothy Gulan) and his wife (Shawna M.Hamic), although not good people. The ones who took care of Cosette before Valjean saved her, totally lovable charaters. The songs Master of the house and Beggars of the feast.

Twenty-eight songs. Music by Claude -Michel Schonberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Three hours long.

Fabulous dramazation. Don't miss your chance to see history.

See How They Run - By Phillip King

A Madcap dash though 1940's England
see how they run

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Directed by Robert Smyth

Lamb's Players Theatre - Coronado
Box office - 619-437-6000
Tuesday - Sunday playing thru September 23
Tues-Thurs 7:30pm, Fridays @ 8:00pm - Saturdays @4:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays @ 2:00pm

See How They Run the new farce playing at Lamb's is engaging. animated and hilarious.

Set in  1944 England in the Hall in the vicarage. The story of a Reverand (Jason Heil), his wife Penelope ( Cynthia Gerber), a parishioner ( Myra McWethy), their wonderful maid Ida (Kerry Meads), Cliff Penelope's friend from the past (Brendon Farley), the Bishop (Jim Chovick, An intruder (Jeffrey Jones), Reverand Humphey (Paul Maley), and a german Sergeant (Ron Choularton).

Berfore the play started the sergeant came out and laid down the law. Set the perfect tone for the play. Witty and fun.

When the Reverand is called out for the evening his wife's old friend shows up and a nosy parishioner oversee's and misconstrue's what she sees. And in the process gets knocked out. The wife and friend go out. In the meantime the maid comes home from her night and and the Reverand return home. The other show up intermittenly and chaos ensues. The usual mix-ups and conclusion jumping.

The actors are all fabulous. A job well-done.

Don't walk but Run to Lamb's Playhouse Coronado now!

la cage
Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

diricted by Terry Johnson
Music and Lyrics Jerry Herman
Book Harvey fierstein

AUGUST 7 – 12
Running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one intermission
Rating: For mature audiences
Civic Theatre, San Diego
Tue Eve, August 7, 2012 - 7pm
Wed Eve, August 8, 2012 - 7pm
Thu Eve, August 9, 2012 - 7:30pm
Fri Eve, August 10, 2012 - 8pm
Sat Mat, August 11, 2012 - 2pm
Sat Eve, August 11, 2012 - 8pm
Sun Mat, August 12, 2012 - 1pm
Sun Eve, August 12, 2012 - 6pm
We are who we are that's the theme of La Cage. Family what we make it. In today's world we have many new kinds of families. Traditional families are rarer and rarer.
La Cage starring George Hamilton and Christopher Seiber is the story of a new kind of family. One of a boy who raised by two dads in a forties showbiz world. Who wants to present his normal family to the woman he wants to marry and her extremly traditional family. This does not sit well with one of his dads and when all go astray we are who we are. We will and should be accepted as such.
Fabulous music, costumes, and settings from the Burlesque world. Outstanding performances from Hamilton and Seiber. Standing ovation from the audience.
A serious topic presented in an entertaining way, through comedy. music and dance.
Standout acting from Dale Hensley as Babette the maid.
Well done Broadway San Diego.
Coming September 2, 2012 Les Miserables


July 27 - August 12
Jt San Diego Junior Theatre
Casa del Prada Theatre Balboa Park
Footloose @ SDJT

Directed and Choreographed by Steve Anthony

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Teenagers Smalltown Usa standing up for what they believe.Through music and dance with some fun and romance thrown in the mix.

When new kid Ren moves from Chicago moves to a small farm town, he has trouble fitting in and finding something to  keep him occupied. He soon falls for the preacher daughter.The man runs the town and finds Ren getting into trouble all over town. Then Ren finds something he loves to do has been banned from town. Dancing. The battle ensues.

The Junior Theatre always puts on a great show and  this one is no different. The kids that perform in these show have been trained in song, dance and acting, and it shows.

Ariel, the preacher daughter played by Jessica Merghart, her friends Rusty played by Alexis Park, Wendy Jo, played by Lauren Green, and Urleen, played by Anna Strickland were amazing. Beautiful voices, tempting dances move and just plain adorable. Perfect in thier roles. Ren, the hero, played by Corey Hable, well not exactly the guy you might have picked for a lead had you cheering, dancing, and rooting for him to win the girl and his case against her dad.Williard his friend played by Ben Shaffer, one word, perfect. Then there was the talented Dakota Ringer as Reverend Shaw.

Many of these talented teens will go far if they continue to follow in the business.

The program continues to do well as this is their 65th season. During intermission they said goobye to eighteen seniors who were leaving the program many in the Footloose production, after having been involved for one to twelve years. To have so many leaving in one years they must be doing something right.

They are like one big happy family. Coming out and supporting each other any way they can. Putting forth one entertaining show after another.

Keep up the good work.

Alert - New Play Venue

The Electric Ladyland Art and Music Center
4944 Newport Ave. Ocean Beach

Known as the Ocean Beach Playhouse
Home of Different Stages

website -

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Somewhere In Between

I recently attended Somewhere In Between A  modern comedy in the vein of You've Got Mail.  Written by Craig Pospisil, an american playwright who has written nine full lengths plays and musicals.

Directed by Kristen Fogle and George Bailey.
Starring: Tim Benson, Maelyn Gandola, Chris Braden, Ed Cao, Matt Gherna, Beth Gallagher, Andrew Pearson, Clifford Wright, and Amy McDowell

The play is done in tne short scenes that follow Jasper played by the talented Tim Benson (a former marine), through a couple days in his life. In which he questions everything. Where his life is going, love, work, friends? Over the time frame he meets many interesting characters which help provide some of the answers he's looking for. At least temporarily.

Funny, edgy, perfect summer-evening humor.

Upcoming  in August is The Dixie Swim Club.
Dixie Swim Club

The story follows five southern women who met on their college swim team. They meet at a beach cottage every August over a long weekend in North Carolina.

Come out and enjoy a new venue for the evening.

A cozy little place, with drapes and artwork with a old fashion feel

The Man...

The Man Who Came To Dinner
Coronado Playhouse

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Thursdays thru Sundays thru August 5th, 2012

Have you ever had a guest who drove you crazy and refused to leave? The Man Who Came To Dinner takes that concept one step further.

The Man Who Came To Dinner is a traditional three act play with two intermissions lasting approximately three hours. The story of Sheidan Whiteside based on the real life radio personality of Alexander Woolcott, critic, gossip columnist and member of the infamous Algonquin Round Table.

Mr. Whiteside comes to dinner at the home of fan Mrs. Daisy Stanley. Before Whiteside can even enter the house he slips on the icy front porch. The year is 1939 and since he breaks his hip leaving the house is out of the questiion. He must recooperate at the Stanley's. Mr. Whiteside is a celebrity chained to a wheelchair. He takes over the whole downstairs, servants, family, phone and front entrance to the house, unable to leave. Turning Mr. and Mrs. Stanley's life into a nightmare.

He is a total celebrity prima donna. The story focus's on Whiteside, played by the multi-talented Phil Johnson who performed in Les Miserables on Broadway. His secretary played by Kim Strassbuger. His friends and acquaintances, his docter and nurse, and the wonderful Stanley family.

This classic american comedy if filled with witty repartee, talented actors and a delightful evening of theatre at it's best.

Written by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. Directed by Ruff Yeager.

Ruff Yeager also does a fantastic cameo as one of Whiteside friend's, Beverly Carlton. So much talent both director and actor.

The cast includes Faeren Adams as Mrs. Stanley, Amy Dell as Miss Preen, Ryan Casselman as Richard Stanley, Steven J. Jensen as John, Yvette Angulo as June Stanley, M. Susan Peck as Sarah, Amanda Cooley Davis as Mrs. McCutheon, Eric Poppick as Mr. Stanley, Philip John as doctor Bradley, Elaine Litton as Harriet Stanley, Gregory Batty as Bert Jeffereson, Frank Godinez as Professor Metz, Francis Anita Rivera as Lorraine Sheridan, Albert Molina as Sandy, Bryan Finnagan as Banjo, Andre Gonzales as Mr. Baker, James Gomez as Expressman, Christopher Pittman as Westcott, a plainclothes man, Paul Schaeffer. a talented group of performers working together to put on a first-rate production.

If you are in the mood for a comedy or a fan of this classic come out for pleasant-fun-filled night at the Coronado playhouse.

Lost in Yonkers
Grossmont College Theatre

May 3-12, 2012
Stagehouse Theatre
Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
Directed by Jeannette Thomas

Blood is thicker than water. When it counts most families stick by you no matter what. Even if you aren't close, don't like each other, or have a family full of loonies, when it comes down to what really matters it's the family against the world.

Neil Simon's play Lost in Yonkers  won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama  in 1991.

Thinking of the play as a drama and not being heavily into dramatic plays, I went in a little skeptical about liking this play. Within minutes I changed my mind. Lost in Yonkers, at least this version, although dealing with serious subject matters as overall themes. Takes a humorous approach. I among most audience members laughed out loud throughout the play. With last couple scenes taking on a more serious note. A thouroughly entertaining heartwarmer.

The story takes place in the Kurnitz home above the Kurnitz Kandy store, Yonkers, NY in 1942. A wonderfully homey set built by the student's. The story is told through the eyes of brothers Jay fifteen and a half (Jacob Gardenswartz) and Arty, (Zachary Bunshaft) thirteen and a half.

The play opens with the boys in their grandmother's house for the first time in years. They do not have fond memories of the place. Their dad, Eddie, (Joel Gosset) who reminded both me and my sister heavily of a young John Goodman, is ina room talking to his mother.(Kate Hewitt) 

When he comes out he reveals to the boys that the reason their mom passed away was from cancer. He reminds them the relative comfort of their moms final monthes. This came at a price. Money he did not have, He'd gone to a loan shark and his time is almost up. He has one year to pay the piper or else.

Eddie has a new job in which he can earn the money, but he needs to travel the south. He has come to Yonkers to ask their grandma to take the boys in for a year.

After an interview with the boys his mom say no. It's their thirty something childlike crazy aunt Bella, (Layla Stuckey who convinces her to take the boys in. The brothers hate the idea. Grandma is a mean old woman with a cane.

The cast also includes uncle Louie,( Ryan Casselman) the mob bag man, who comes to stay for awhile and bring the boys a male role model such as it is. And as aunt Gert, (Katherine Bothwell), a relative with a speaking problem.

Grandma, Jay and Arty hate each other throughout the year, but over the course of time grow to respect each other.

Jeannette Thomas did a perfect job of casting. The actors were their roles. The thinker Jay, the resistant Arty, the hateful Grandma. the crazy Bella, and the henchman, Louie. A dysfuntional family living together and learning to appreciate each other for who they are.
Kate Hewitt was phenomenal as the mean old lady. Jacob and Zachary perfect as the brothers. Ryan a loveable bag man, and Layla a  true talent with a big future.

No children under ten allowed for this production.

Next Fall the college will present Mauritius, and continue their season with The Grimmers, My Three Angels, The Odyssey A Play, and An Ordinary Day.

As with most performing Arts these days Grossmont College theatre can use your support. Please join them for an upcoming play. Or consider becomming a donor. For as little as $25 dollars you can help. www.grossmontedu/theatrebrochure for more information.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

Coronado Playhouse on Glorietta Bay, Coronado
March 30- May 6, 2012
Reviewed By
Kathy Carpenter

Directed by Nick Reeves
Written By John Bishop
Original Music by Erich Einfalt

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The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is not a musical. It is a madcap comedy with a few bars of music. This is the story of a backer's audition at a huge Westchester estate for a wealthy patron, for a new musical. Several members from a previous cast are brought together in hope of finding the backstage slasher. A murderer who killed three chorus girls the last time they worked together. It is rumored to be based on a combination of 1940 movies, including Bob Hope's first movie.

A feel good comedy romp, and pure clever fun. With only a ten member cast director Nick Reeves and the Coronado playhouse brings us another fantastic production.

Andrey L. Payne has not yet graduated high school but has a long career ahead in acting. His role as Eddie McCuen, the comedian, was spot on deadpan. Of course this might be a bit bias as he reminded me so much of one of my cousins, LOL. The other standout for me was Sean S. Doughty, (Roger Hopewell) part of the song writing team. His wit and humor really brought the scenes together. And then there was Lisa Ritz as Helsa. The play couldn't have been done without her magnificient performance. Of course, the entire cast was terrific. That's what wonderful entertainment is all about bringing the  right group of people together for the perfect play.

 Thank you Coronado Playhouse for your continued first class entertainment.

Easter Brunch April 8th 12:30.

Upcoming shows
The Man Who Came to Dinner
June 29-August 5, 2012
Twelth Night
August 31- September 23, 2012
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
October 26- December 2, 1012

Broadway San Diego - ROCK OF AGES
March 27 - April 1, 2012


Rock of Ages
Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Broadway San Diego March 29-April 1, 2012
Civic Center

Eighties rock concert with a story. Provcative, bold , and engaging. Set in 1987 on the Sunset strip in West Hollywood. Takes place in and around the legendary Bourbon club owned by Dennis Dupree.

A simple small -town girl meets big-city dreamer love story. Watch and listen as they fall in love to the rock songs of Journey, Stixx, Reo Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benetar, Whitesnake, and many more iconic  tunes. The show featuress thirty-one songs. If there were such things as play lists back then chances are most of these hits would be on your list.

Directed by Kristin Hanggi. Choreographed by Kelly Devine. The book is by Chris D'Arienzo. The idea originated in Los Angeles and played intimate venues around town in 2005.

The incredibly talented Justin Colombo played Lonnie (the narrator).Matt Ban was the rocked-out Dennis. Dominique Scott played the busboy with the Rockstar dreams, with a voice to make those dream come true. Shannon Mullen starred as Sherry the small-town girl. From angel to stripper she made you believe. Alma Osex played Justice, whose powerful soulfull voice captured your heart.

What's a concert without the band. The five piece band was onstage the entire time flawlessly executing the music of the legends. Piano, Darren Ledbetter, guitar 1, Chris Cicchino, guitar 2, Maddon, drums, Alan Childs, and bass, Andy Gerold.

The theme i Don't stop believing. In yourself or your dreams. Represented in the play and reiterated by the actors in a Q & A after the performance.

Two hours and forty-five minutes with intermission. Leave the kids at home for this one.- and prepare to rock out.

Next up at Broadway San Diego is Chicago Starring Christie Brinkley May 8-13.

** REVIEW **

Coronado Playhouse

January 27 - March 4, 2012

1835 Strand Way, Coronado

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

42nd street

Do you feel the beat? Is so, move those feet to Coronado Playhouse.

Director Chrissy Burns wanted to 42nd Steet because she feels the time period of the early 30's is reflective of the same issues many of us are coping with these days. Recession, working two, three, and even four jobs just to get by. Yet doing what we need to do in some cases to pursue what we love.

Based on the novel by Bradfor Ropes. Music by Harry Warren. Lyrics by Al Dubin. Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble.
42nd Street is an American Broadway classic singing and tapping. My all time favorite type play.

42nd street is the story of the small town girl, in the 30's getting off the train in New York City, and with no experience in the theatre scene. She shows up at the audition after it's ended but through talent and being in the right spot at the right time manages to secure a spot in the chorus. After the star sprains her ankle opening night Peggy gets her big chance.

Melisa De Seguirant plays Peggy Sawyer Miss innocent from Allentown Pennslyvaina. This is Melisa's San Diego debut. She brings a freshness, sweetness to the role, and feet that sizzle with her fantastic tapping to the role. Bryan Banville plays the charmer Billy Lawlor and could probably charm most young ladies. Francena Bragg plays spoiled socialite Dorothy Brock, whose sultry voice makes you forget her meaness for a couple minutes.

A brightness in the cast is Hailey Bragg playing Mac, the production assistant. Only eleven she did a brilliant job, she has a great future in this business.

The other stand out for me was Meredith Russo who rocked the role of get-the-job-done Maggie Jones.

The entire cast did a fabulous job! With a shout out to Jennifer Soloman-Rubio, choreographer, on bringing a big production show to a dinner theatre type atmosphere.

Outstandingly sparkalicious costumes and hats, bringing the era to life.

To thatre offers a full bar and to add a bit of fun to the night offer drink related specials. Pretty Lady - Champagne, Chambord Gran Marnier - Manhatten Tea - Vanilla Long Island Iced Tea - Shuffle off to Buffalo - Captian Morgan and Pineapple juice

So if you going out on the town for the night shuffle off to Coronado.

Addams Family



May 29-June 3, 2012

The weird and wonderful family comes to devilishly delightful life in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. This magnificently macabre new musical comedy is created by Jersey Boys authors Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, Drama Desk-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party), choreographer Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and Olivier Award-winning director/designers Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter) with creative consultation by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a smash-hit musical comedy that brings the darkly delirious world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and, of course, Lurch to spooky and spectacular life.

This is definitely not the same old song and dance.

It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your little girl has suddenly become a young woman, and what’s worse, has fallen deliriously in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. Yes, Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has a “normal” boyfriend, and for parents Gomez and Morticia, this shocking development will turn the Addams house downside up.

It’s a family portrait that’s completely off the wall.


Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Directed by Rick Simas
Presented by SDSU School of Theatre, Television and Film
Don Powell Theatre
San Diego State University

March 8 - March 17, 2012

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Zanna, Don't! is a quirky spin on modern relationships. The tone is set in the opening scene. Zanna, a male fairy (literary in all senses of the word) wakes in his bed. The radio announces not to forget some town event on Saturday, and tell guys to grab their guys and gals to grab their gals.

The story takes place mostly at Heartsville High, in mid-America. Where gay and straight are reversed. Gay is the norm. Zanna, played by Tom Vendafreddo, who does a super fantastic job, plays a cupid-like fairy. He makes it his mission that every student at Heartville High finds love.

With Cinderella tie-ins. Zanna also chats with a bird, has a wand with which he does simple magic, and loses a shoe.

The tricks are minimal but effective. I couldn't see how they did them was impressed, and enjoyed the fantasy element they brought to the show,

During the course of the play the students decide to put on a straight play which will shock the community. But to game acclaim they go for it. The enivitable happens, a guy and girl kiss and fall in loves causing problems in their current relationships. However as with all musical comedies everyone lives happily-ever-after.

Zanna Don't! originated in New York, in 2003, written by Tim Acito with additional material from Alexander Dinelaris. The play was called a sweet little show with a lot of heart and the important message of equality.Tolerance, acceptance, and love. Everyone wants to belong.

The music lively, and the dance numbers, energetic and fun. An magical entertaining evening. Playing through March 19th.

The theatre will present Vinegar Tom April 20th -28th.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Grossmont College Stagehouse Theatre
Directed by Susan Jordan-DeLeon

Spelling may not be everyone's forte but watching others succeed, fail, grow, and triumph appeals to most of us.

Follow six students and four people chosen from the audience as they spell there way through the show. Try to spell the impossible words in your head before the contestant can and learn the definitions of more than a few new words.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E an original improvisiational play created by Rebecca Fieldman and performed by The Farm a New York based improvisational troupe.

Stand out performances by Rafi Cedeno as the Comfort Counselor, who did a little of everything. Played the tough yet comforting parolee. Acted in a second role as a gay dad, Sang beautifully, and did a ballet step to replace the microphone. Jordan Bunshaft also did an excellent job as William Barfee. Props to the rest of the cast for letting their talent shine.

Eight delightful musical numbers featuring the Platyers(the band.) The show runs approximately one hour and forty-five minutes without sn intermission. Mature language.

Buy your tickets early this was a sell-out and seats are limited. Box Office Phone: (619)644-7234


Spelling Bee fb logo Music & Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Orchestrations by Michael Starobin
Vocal Arrangements by Carmel Dean
Directed By: Susan Jordan DeLeon
Musical Director: Ron Councell

March 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30PM
March 10 & 17 at 2:00PM 2012

"Please spell 'Honorificabilitudinitatibus!'"  This delightful musical comedy, full of characters sure to remind you of your own elementary school days, is a chance to root for the next Spelling Bee Champion.  Musical numbers, both comic and poignant, weave together a tale of triumph and loss on a stage of immense proportions: the auditorium stage of Putnam County Middle School!  This show includes some on-stage audience participation, so be sure to bring your thinking cap…

Mature language.



January 19 - February 26, 2012

Reviwed By Kathy Carpenter

Welk Resort Theatre

Ever dream of rising to the top in business? Well maybe not the exact recipe to follow. How to Succeed makes for an extremely entertaining story.

A simple fun plot done well. As with writing, great acting sells itself. Who needs complication?. We do need conflict but it can be simple. Set in the sixties, maybe a simpler time in itself, J. Pierrepont Finch, window washer, decides to rise to the top of a large business using the aid of a book titled "How To Succeed In Business."  Throw in an office romance, the boss's nephew, and the boss's lover and you have conflict.

Directed by Ray Limon, who has directed over 25 productions with Welk theatre, and over 200 productions nationally.

Matthew Broderick plays the role of Finch on Broadway but Allen Everman portrayed Finch as a young Broderick. Many times during the night I found myself saying how much he reminded me of Matthew. He was perfect as the determined go-getter Finch.

Bud Frump, nephew of the boss, and villian of the piece, was equally as wonderful as Finch, if not better. Scott Dreir who has performed many roles around San Diego county, did a masterful job in the role. Spoiled - mama's - boy.

The rest of the cast including stand outs Bethany Slomka as Smitty, and Marie Kelly as Miss Jones, did an outstanding job. I can't really imagine a better version of the show than this one.

The score of fourteen lively whimsical songs written by Frank Loesser brought the dance numbers to life. Including my favorite scene  The "he thought she thought" number. Also loved the beautiful dress used for the Paris original number.

The play is over two hours a bit on the longer side but well worth your time.


-------------------------------------- 2011 and earlier --------------------------------------


2011 and earlier



Review It's A Wonderful Life : A Live Radio Play
By Diane Dunaway Kramer

adapted by JOE LANDRY
directed by SEAN MURRAY

This timeless classic It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play based on the Frank Capra film and adapted for the stage by Joe Landry is playing in Old Town fort its sixth and final year. Artistic Director Sean Murray directs

The story is set on Christmas Eve, 1946, in Studio A at WCYG Radio, and the radio actors are gathering on stage to present It's a Wonderful Life in a "live" 1940's radio broadcast filled with music and the beloved story immortalized in the film of the same name. The actors, the pianist and a sound effect artist recreate the story of George Bailey, a young man in a small town who dreams of big cities and big ambitions. Unfortunately all his plans are thwarted and he is forced to remain in the small town where he lives, marries and works in a savings and loan. In a moment of crisis, George's frustration with his life makes him consider suicide until an angel 2nd class), Clarence, is sent down from heaven on a mission to save George and, in so doing, earn his wings to become a true angel.

Clarence arrives on earth dropping into a river where George is pondering taking his life. But George becomes so involved saving Clarence from drowning, he reconsiders his plan. When Clarence shows George what the world would be like had he never been born, George's faith in his own life is renewed while Clarence receives his wings.

This production is charming and will delight the whole family. The fun is enhanced by the sound effects artist who creates 'broken windows, footsteps, birds chirping, snow falling and by the actors who transform to every character and sound effect from young boys, crying babies and yowling cats. If you have out of town company, this could be a favorite choice to entertain and share a feel-good evening. Also there is easy and inexpensive dining in Old Town's bustling streets that surround the theater.

Tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets visit or call 619-337-1525.
Cygnet Theatre - 4040 Twiggs St. in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs November 30th through December 31st, 2011
at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town State Historic Park.
Performances are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.
Tickets are $29 - $54. Discounts are available for seniors, students, children and military.


  • Wine Tasting Night: Thursday, December 8th @ 6:30pm
  • OUT@CYGNET Night: Wednesday, December 14th @ 6:30pm
  • Come Meet Zuzu: (actress Karolyn Grimes signs autographs and tells tales!)
    Thursday & Friday, December 29th & 30th


Now playing at Lyceum Theatre until December 4th --

Review by Allison Maderia
Trailer Park
Photo credit Daren Scott

Life on this side of the tracks is full of Springer-style drama in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Set in Armadillo Acres, a trailer park in Starke, Florida, we spend the show entertained by a Greek chorus of trailer park gossips, who introduce us to trailer park life through a barrage of disco tunes, country ballads and southern rock – with plenty of gun shooting and beer guzzling along the way.

Written by Betsy Kelso with music and lyrics by David Nehls, The Great American Trailer Park Musical tells the story of married couple Jeannie (Courtney Corey) and Norbert (David Kirk Grant) who are getting ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary -- at the Ice Capades, where else? Jeannie and Norbert have only had eyes for each other since high school, but the years have taken their toll on the couple. Jeannie is unable to step padded slipper beyond the trailer park door (agoraphobia and arachnophobia, reports one of the girls) and Norbert’s eye is starting to wander over to the trailer next door, belonging to Pippi (Jill Van Valzer), the exotic dancer who is running from her marker-sniffing thug of a boyfriend Duke.  A talented trio of trailer park gossips, Linoleum (Leigh Scarritt), Pickles (Kailey O’Donnell) and Betty (Melinda Gibb), lead us through this love triangle with delightful asides, tunes and only a few gunshots.

Directed by Sam Woodhouse with choreography by Javier Valasco and musical direction by Anthony Smith, the production does a splendid job of poking fun at this side of Americana and hitting all of the trailer trash stereotypes. Courtney Corey is sensational as Jeannie, belting out some of the most breathtaking songs of the night. Equally impressive in Jill Van Valzer as Pippi, especially when the two share the number “But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy.” David Kirk Grant was fun to watch as the buffoon-like Norbert, complete in flashbacks with Ratt t-shirt and appropriate mullet. Duke, played by David McBean, was great as a hyperactive sniffer (“I like the colors!”) with a fierce temper and a vendetta to find his girl.

The musical score is silly but full of catchy tunes. There were a few particularly enjoyable songs that showcased the talents of this great cast. For instance, “Flushed Down the Pipesfeatured Betty, Linoleum and Pickles in a riotous ballad about love left in the hands of the toilet bowl man, complete with sponges and toilet scrubbers for the chorus. “The Girls” were the highlight of the show, providing the best jokes of the night. Melinda Gibb plays Betty, the matriarch of the trailer park. Preaching the American dream, Betty-turned-TV show host belts out the musical number “The Great American TV Show” where a Springer-style brawl ensues between the guests.  Leigh Scarritt, as Linoleum (her mama had her on the floor), got plenty of laughs from the audience with lots of booze and raunchiness, a symptom of her search for amusement while her husband is on death row. Finally, the young Kailey O’Donnell is a riot as the dimwitted blonde Pickles. She also got to show off her range in “It Doesn’t Take a Genius.”

Discover life on “this side of the tracks” with The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The Great American Trailer Park Musical is playing until December 4th at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego. Go to for tickets and more information.


Dancing fun for the whole family

now playing through December 4th at the San Diego Civic Center

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter
Saturday December 3, 2:00pm and 7:30
Sunday December 4, 12:30 and 5:30 pm

Journey through Ireland with music, dance and song. As you enjoy the Irish experience of Riverdance.

Narrator John Kavanagh leads us between the numbers with poetic Irish lore. The backdrop behind the dancers creates the scene. A huge screen dipicting different images to tie in the legends and Ireland. Produced by Moya Doherty. Directed by John McColgan. Composed by Bill Whelan.

The Riverdance Irish Dance Troupe is made up of many World Champion Irish Dancers. Most of the dancers are from Ireland, but they also include dancers from Great Britain, the United Stated and Austraila.These are dancers who competed against each others in competetions. Riverdance gives the best dancers the chance to come together to create team perfection.

The first act was nine numbers divided between the equally talented musicans, dance troupe, and singers. The musicans consist of Declan Masterson keyboards, Matt Bashfors Uilleann Pipes, and low whistles, Pat Mangan, Fiddle, Mark Alfred, drums, percussion,  and Bodhran, and Saxaphone, Dave McCauran. Each brought forward and featured during solos throughout the show. Superb instrumentals played with enthusiam and joy.

The dance principals were Craig Ashurst and Chloey Turner accompanied by Jessica Baffa, Patrick Barnett, Shona Cobbe, Maeve Croke, Maggie Darlington, Nicola Dempsey, Scott Doherty, Maeve Fearon, James Greenan, John Grimes, Billy Kanaly, James Keating, Mairead Masuda, Fiona McCabe, Nicole McKeever, Niamh O'Connor, Adrew O'Reilly, Lauren Smyth, Kincaid Stringer, floated through some numbers as if walikng on air. While other numbers brought forth a primal instinct. Whatever the number the audience was delightfully entertained.

And if you thought the troupe was all about dacing. Several of the troupe also performed songs that were so beautifully melodic they sounded like christmas angels. And during act two Michael E. Wood 's barritone solo reached to the depth of the your soul.

The performance also included two sensuous flamenco dances by Marita Martinez-Rey. One in the first act and one in the second to round out the show. Also included in the second act and one of the show highlights was a tap dance off between Bnn Mapp and Michael E. Wood doing regular tap and three male dancers featuring Craig Ashurst doing strp-dancing (Irish tap as I call it) Excellent, highly skilled tapping on both sides, and my favorite number of the night.The second act also consisted of nine numbers.

Treat you and someone you love to an early Chrismas gift this weekend.

The Drowsy Chaperone

A Comedy Within A Musical

Drowsy Chaperone

Reviewed By Kathy Carpenter

Coronado Playhouse on Glorietta Bay
October 25 - December 4, 2011
Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 2pm

The Drowsy Chaperone "does what a musical should do" entertains us with music, dance, comedy, and fun. The Chaperone was the only drowsy one at this playhouse, as the hysterical cast captivates the audiuence before the lights even come up

 The play is set in 1928 in a New York apartment, yet the play is not old but new. Originally, The Drowsy Chaperone started as a spoof at a stag party, for Bob Martin.(the original man in the chair). In May of 2006 the show opened on Broadway. Winning five Tony's. The show is a tribute to musicals of the jazz age.

Warning to those who have not seen the play and love musicals. The story is more about the narrator. the "Man in the Chair", played by Jim Williams,  (The comedy) You are drawn into the current scene, and then the man in the chair stops the play and gives his humorous wittiy narrative. That said, at first this might seam disruptive to the musical purist, like me. But after you get use to the idea the comedy from the interuptions is the uniqueness that makes the show. You really need someone impressive in this role and Williams was brilliant.

The plot of the musical is simple . It's the story of a celebrity bride and the comedic antics ensuing on the day of her wedding. The plot of the comedy - a huge fan of musicals and his thoughts on this particular one as he navigates us through the musical.

Audience favorites were Debbie David as the incorrigible drowsy chaperone, and Danny Ingersoll as the suave Adolpho.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a well balanced musical comedy that you will find much more entertaining than the current box office hit.  Make sure you set time aside to go see this one.

Dead Man's Cell Phone

October 15 - November 6, 2011 Thursday thru Sunday

Review By Kathy Carpenter

Moxie Theatre Presents Dead Man's Cell Phone
by Sarah Ruhl 
Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg
6663 El Cajon Blvd. Rolando area

Dead Man Cell phone is imagintive, provocative, edgy, humor. done right. It's the odyssey of a woman forced to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption and the need to connect in this technologically obsessed world. 

When loner Jean hears a cell phone at the next table ring again and again while the man at the table ignores it. She can't helped but be annoyed and finally takes it upon herself to answer. She then realizes the man is dead. She takes it upon herself to take over his phone. She becomes obsessed with answering and being kind to the point of making things up to those who were involved in the dead man's life.

Moxie theatre is in it's seventh season.   Moxie is defined as “courage, pluck, gumption, perseverance, guts." and whether it's the hero of the play, the plot, the playwrite, or theme. "Moxie" is the unifying quality that will define the productions put on by the six women who make up the Moxie.

Put your cell phone on hold for one evening and connect to an experience outside the digital world.


Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Playing at the Don Powell Theatre SDSU campus
Oct. 21-30

Sometimes in our chaotic digital lives we need to eacape to a simpler time. The Boyfriend transports us to a bygone era. A 1920's romantic, comedic romp. Filled with song, dance and fun

The Boyfriend takes place at the Villa Caprice, a girls finishing school, on the French Riviera. Sweet Polly Browne, ( the role of which was Julie Andrews first american role on Braodway ) is played by the delightfully enchanting Cassie Abate . Polly is an american heiress who thinks all boys are after her money. She leads her three girlfriend's into believing she has a boyfriend  whom they have not met. It's  a pretend boyfriend.

She leads her friends to believe he is coming into town to take her to the carnival ball, and then she falls for the messenger who delivers her costume. So she talks him into coming to the ball as her boyfriend. She tells him she is a secretary at the school. They are both extremely taken with each other. Then problems ensue. And although a predictable plot your root for the happily-ever.after.

Hortense played by Mitzi Mirchaels is a flirtatious french maid, who looks after them all. Mitzi is fresh and fabulous. Everyone loved Percival Browne, (Brandon Joel Maier) the straight, funny guy. Susan Deleon as Madame Dubonnet reminded me of the lovable Ave Gabor. The rest of the cast entertained us with colorful costumes, many types of dance, and cheerful songs from the era.

It's hard to find this type of musical in this day and age. But if this is your thing you should definately make time to see The Boyfriend now.

DOUBT: a parable


Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
Oct .2, 5th ,6th, 7th, 8th, 9th

Exprimental Theatre SDSU

Doubt plagues us all.

Set at St. Nicholas Catholic school, New York, 1964. Doubt the parable and 2005 Pulitzer prize winner  is the gripping tale of suspician cast upon a priest's character, where issues of moral certainty are spun into a tough and eloquent detective story.

A powereful, evocative, first rate performance. Kevin Koppman-Gue, Sunny Smith, and Rachel Dexter shine in this SDSU rendition of Doubt.

Designed to make you consider how others can view the same situation differently.
You will have much to discuss when you leave the theatre

Heads up: there is no intermission.

Who will you believe?

bu abrdm


Conceived, Choreographed and Directed by TWYLA THARP Vocals by FRANK SINATRA

Reviewed By
Kathy Carpenter


Come Fly Away, is the epitome of song and dance.  The show is eighty minutes of Sinatra and Twyla Tharp. Twenty seven Frank Sinatra songs, sung by Frank and back by an amazing onstage orchestra. The orchestra is the third part of this amazing experience.

Frank's music, sung by Frank, played by the orchestra, while fourteen dancers, dance and interact throughout the high end bar set. It's like watching a Sinatra show in Vegas without Frank. The music we love. The dancers flowing around in constant movement portraying the songs in dance, like a live video. Tranquil, romantic, adventure of dance. Reminiscent of the contempory dances on the television show  So You Think You Can Dance.

Take a moment in time to Come Fly Away.


ja4Impro Theatre @ Noorth Coast Rep. Theater

Reviewed by Pamela Summers

The thing about an improvisational play is that it can never be duplicated.  Last night the North Coast Rep. Theater in conjunction with Improv Theater presented Jane Austen Unscripted, resulting in hilarious performances that will never be seen again.  The L.A. actors, who spoke with English accents and were dressed in period-clothing, had not even seen the stage setup until just before show time.  Their piece started with an audience suggestion of a light conversation about “weeds” which grew deeper and taller throughout each scene, resulting in spontaneous laugher and clapping from the audience.  Like a true Jane Austen piece, love prevailed in the end.

The troupe generally only performs here at Solana Beach one night a month.  However, next month’s improvisational play will be “An Unscripted Carol” on Dec. 19 and again on the 20th.  For those who’d like to see just how different the actors, their roles, and the entire show can, they might want to consider reserving both nights.  For tickets go to or call the box office at (858) 481-1055. North Coast Rep * 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive * Solana Beach CA 92075


from the HORSE'S MOUTH

Saturday, October 22
University of California, Irvine
Claire Trevor School of the Arts
WInifred Smith Hall, Building 710/Arts Plaza


From the Horse's Mouth celebrates the"heart and history of dance" with outstanding dancers and choreographers of all ages and traditions, performing together and telling their extraordinary personal stories

DOUBT: a parable


Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
Oct .2, 5th ,6th, 7th, 8th, 9th

Exprimental Theatre SDSU

Doubt plagues us all.

Set at St. Nicholas Catholic school, New York, 1964. Doubt the parable and 2005 Pulitzer prize winner  is the gripping tale of suspician cast upon a priest's character, where issues of moral certainty are spun into a tough and eloquent detective story.

A powereful, evocative, first rate performance. Kevin Koppman-Gue, Sunny Smith, and Rachel Dexter shine in this SDSU rendition of Doubt.

Designed to make you consider how others can view the same situation differently.
You will have much to discuss when you leave the theatre

Heads up: there is no intermission.

Who will you believe?



Reviewed by Peggy Lipskaz
now through October 9th.

at North Coast Rep, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr. Suite D, Solana Beach, CA.
For tickets, call (858) 481-1055, or on-line


As the seasons change, our activities change too. Are you a little disappointed in your sports teams these days?

I’ve got a solution for your “blues”. Get tickets, Now. Drive north just a short hop to Solana Beach for the 30th Anniversary opening season of North Coast Rep season.

This is your lucky day !!!This very funny, popular play has been extended it will be running until Sunday, October 9, 2011 Don’t wait-if you need a relaxing, laugh-filled evening…you could go to dinner first, “ curtain time” is either 7 or 8pm. (depending on which show you attend).

At this cozy theater, there is not a curtain. As you walk in, what you will see is a spectacular set on the stage. A 1930 Art Deco hotel room is decorated with Black & White and chrome accents. This thing of beauty was designed by Marty Burnett, a very creative and accomplished designer. From the elegant carpet (donated) to the white on white bed spread and “the slamming doors”-it is a masterpiece. I’m ready to have my bedroom “do-over”.

This show is an excellent example of a Farce. It includes misunderstandings, fast pacing, exaggerated emotions and…slamming doors.(reminiscent of the Keystone Kops of that era). Listen for the one-liners and double entendres. They come fast…so, laugh ! Laughing is a very good thing to do for your body’s health.

This play won 3 Tony awards and 4 Drama Desk awards. This show isn’t about Opera, per se, but rather about personalities…and laughter. At the end is an 86 second choreographed bit of excellence ! Don’t leave early, it is amazing…and don’t forget to breathe !!!

Artistic Director, David Ellenstein has put together a great cast and crew. Be sure to read your program for all their accomplishments. They are wonderful in this production. “Gas, 10 cents a gal”? What is that all about?

Before the show and at intermission, enjoy the spotlight café area. Featured now is the artwork of the famous, creative, out-of-the-box fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes. Her costuming is known world-wide over. From Opera, and rock stars to designing for the British royalty. We are fortunate that she has chosen to live here in San Diego.

Hop onto your iphone or computer, or pick up a telephone to reserve your tickets NOW. Shows are Wednesday thru Sunday, including some matinees. You won’t regret it !

And, please, LEND ME A TENOR


tenor2 tenor4 tenor5



bmg_blue_logoBlue Man Group


Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
now through September 25th.

If you are a fan of the Blue Man Group don't miss your opportunity to experience their innovative genius. Bringing their musical, technical, and comedic talent together for an hour and a half show you won't forget soon. Filled with special effects that will amaze you, fresh musical beats, and lots of audience participation to add to the fun.

A true Las Vegas feel at the Civic center now.

SHOW DATES:                       September 20 – 25, 2011

TICKET PURCHASE:             Tickets Currently On Sale
Civic Theatre Ticket Office; 1100 Third Avenue
(619) 570-1100; Monday – Friday, 10AM - 6PM
Ticketmaster (800) 982-2787
Ticket prices vary. For current prices, please

WHERE:           San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B Street, Downtown San Diego

Tuesday and Wednesday at 7PM
Thursday at 7:30PM
Friday at 8PM
Saturday at 2PM & 8PM
Sunday at 1PM & 6PM

Paid parking available at the Wells Fargo Building, 401 B Street
(enter at corner of 4th and B); one block from the Civic Theatre.


The Hit Broadway Musical

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
now through August 21


Let your imagination fly. Children are kings of creativity. But somewhere along the way this becomes crushed in most of us. That's what Disney is all about - bring out the inner-child in all of us.

Mary Poppins is magically entertaining!  Reinforcing the positive message anything is possible. Colorful scenery, costumes,  and special effects, add to the charming enchantment, that wove a spell over the audience captured by another Disney smash.

Stephanie Leigh shines as loveable Mary Poppins. Nicolas Dromard charismatic charm brings Bert the chiminy sweep to life.As the whole cast finds the way into our hearts.

All I can say is supercaliafragilisticexpialidocous!

Civic Theatre Ticket Office; 1100 Third Avenue
(619) 570-1100; Monday – Friday, 10AM - 6PM
Ticketmaster (800) 982-2787
Ticket prices vary. For current prices, please visit

WHERE:                           San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B Street, downtown San Diego

PERFORMANCE TIMES:      Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7PM
                                      added: Thursday matinee August 11 at 1PM
                                      Friday at 7:30PM
Saturday at 2PM & 7:30PM ASL interpreted performance at 2PM
Sunday at 1PM & 6:30PM; Open-Captioned performance at 1PM


Jump, Jive, an' Wail

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter
now through August 14th

Find out more info!

CCT presesents Jump, Jive an' Wail a lightning-paced, spirited journey of swing and jazz through the twentieth century,  If you trace the history of swing and jazz one place keeps popping up. The Savoy Ballroom in New York City. This show takes place in the Savoy and spans the decades from the 1920's through the 1990's. Music and dance.

Swing has played an important role over the years. Music and dance allows people to escape the everyday  for a short time. To be joyful and happy. Who can resist? This show is no exception. Performed on the deck of the USS Midway  the perfect set adding allure to the era's of the past.

Director Paul Russell, brought the cast together. K.C. Gruill-Miller and Chris Rubio choreographed the fabulous dances, and Terry Hendricks, with Jaimie d' Avignon brought us the music,

Singers, dancers, wow! You could not ask more from these kids. I can't say enough about how wondeful the songs and dances showcased in the performance. Props also go out to the orchestra, staring the "RJ" Real Jazz Big Band, the show could not happen without you. Fantastic job everyone!!!

Hurry over to escape your troubles .

Introduce a new generation to the Magic


Mary Poppins
The Hit Broadway Musical

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Let your imagination fly. Children are kings of creativity. But somewhere along the way this becomes crushed in most of us. That's what Disney is all about - bring out the inner-child in all of us.

Mary Poppins is magically entertaining!  Reinforcing the positive message anything is possible. Colorful scenery, costumes,  and special effects, add to the charming enchantment, that wove a spell over the audience captured by another Disney smash.

Stephanie Leigh shines as loveable Mary Poppins. Nicolas Dromard charismatic charm brings Bert the chiminy sweep to life.As the whole cast finds the way into our hearts.

All I can say is supercaliafragilisticexpialidocous!


Tickets for Broadway’s Magical Hit Musical


SHOW DATES:                  August 10 – 21, 2011
TICKET PURCHASE:          Tickets Currently On Sale

Civic Theatre Ticket Office; 1100 Third Avenue
(619) 570-1100; Monday – Friday, 10AM - 6PM
Ticketmaster (800) 982-2787
Ticket prices vary. For current prices, please visit

WHERE:                           San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B Street, downtown San Diego

PERFORMANCE TIMES:      Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7PM
                                      added: Thursday matinee August 11 at 1PM
                                      Friday at 7:30PM
Saturday at 2PM & 7:30PM ASL interpreted performance at 2PM
Sunday at 1PM & 6:30PM; Open-Captioned performance at 1PM



Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Now playing through AUGUST 14th at San Diego Junior Theatre Casa Del Prado Theatre, Balboa Park


San Diego Junior theatre presents Hairspray. History, Fun, sinigng and dancing all in one show. Hairsprayis the story of pleasantly plump teen Tracy Turnblad in 1962 Baltimore as she fights for her dream. To star on the Corny Collins dance show. She fights prejudice over her looks but her ability to dance wins out. She then fights for the Corny Collins show to treat everyone equally by integrating the show. She also detrowns the current teen queen and win the love of heartthrob Link Larkin.

Based on the New Line Cinema movie written and directed by John Waters.

Directed by Desha Crownover and chroeographed by Steve Anthony. The fabulous Kate Jamison as Tracy Turblad leads the cast in a high energy, fast-paced, rocking presentation. Jordan Bunshaft as Edna, Tracy's mom, does a tremendous job as the comedy release. Stanley Gambucci plays a sexy Seaweed. Maddie Shea Baldwin does an excellent job as the villainess of the piece, Velma Von Tussle. Casey Jaquez, a perfect spoiled beuaty queen, Amber Von Tussle. The charming, Fred Strack, portays Link Larkin, the hero, and Nicki Elledge a spunky, friend and love interest, Penny. The entire wonderful cast fit the show to a tee.

Have some fun with your kids over ten this August. Intoduce them to Arts.

Hairspray - The Musical

Peer Gynt

Now playing at La Jolla Playhouse until July 24th

Review by Allison Maderia
Photo by Don IpockPeer Gynt
La Jolla Playhouse continues its 2011/12 season with an imaginative frolic into Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, a playful and extravagant journey of a self-obsessed dreamer.
Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is an exhausting five-act, 50 character dramatic poem that, in its original form, takes five hours to stage. Thankfully, La Jolla Playhouse’s production whittles the tall tale down to two hours and ingeniously stars only five players, while keeping all 50 characters. As with most of the Norwegian playwright’s works, Peer Gynt explores man’s existence and moral dilemma, only this tale goes beyond with thick surrealism that takes the title character into a dream world, melting modern Norway with fantastic fairytale.
The story follows Peer Gynt, a Norwegian dreamer with a vivid imagination and a reputation for debauchery and telling tall tales. As the story is revealed, we are lead through an intense, wacky journey throughout Peer’s entire life where he struggles to be himself ('To thyself be true.'). Along the journey Peer encounters a troll kingdom, becomes a businessman man in Morocco, and even is accosted by a button-molder who threatens to take Peer's soul as faulty goods. We are unclear whether the journey is real - befitting of Peer’s character - but the result of the journey is clear. This is a story of inward exploration and redemption.

Director David Schweizer has had a long time love affair with Peer Gynt since his undergraduate studies at Yale in 1969. In this production, Schweizer captures all of the surrealism in Ibsen’s work - and more. Schweizer and cast insert theatrical humor, contemporary jokes and mix Ibsen’s acts quite successfully as we travel between times in Peer’s life to create a fun, wacky world with lots of hoodwinks.
Designed by David Zinn, the off-kilter set draws us deeper into Peer’s world and sets the tone for the play. Imaginative and mobile pieces let you travel between worlds from the simple, Norwegian home of Peer’s youth to the caves of the trolls living in the mountains and even to the deserts of Morocco. Lighting by Darrel Maloney was simple yet impactful, creating the spiraling tunnel into Peer’s conscious or even projecting waves on a trunk to illuminate a journey by sea. With constant character changes, the highly mobile costumes designed by Mary Lawson become so important to the flow of the story. Actors exchange characters directly on the stage with a simple borrowing of a jacket. Sweet, country dress changes into a troll princess’ garb with the simple addition of wacky, neon accessories. The costumes are such an imaginative, fun part of this show.

With only five characters and 50 roles, staging the work could be a challenge but Schweizer pushes back by casting three Peers, who are all exceptional. Danny Gavigan, Luis Moreno and Evan Zes are the tag team of actors who successfully play the title role. Changing Peer in front of us, the three appear to almost decide who should play Peer at that very moment. The show continues on this way, acknowledging each other and theatrical conventions directly on stage. The two female leads, Birgit Huppuch (Ase and Solveig) and Kate Cullen Roberts (Ingrid and Anitra), are also remarkable in their comedic timing and seamless character transitions. This quintet demonstrates great comedic delivery and precision, such as in a scene of paused tableaux between characters representing Germany, France and America that stops and starts with impeccable timing. Fun and extravagant, this production of Peer Gynt keeps you snickering with laughter and surprises at every turn. The only downside is the few musical interludes, which seem very traditional and at times take away from the innovative feeling of the production. The show ends on such a note and seems very disconnected from the rest of the show.

Don’t miss your chance to experience the mirth and magic of Peer Gynt at La Jolla Playhouse with performances through July 24th. Go to for tickets and more information.


AJ Foggiano (top) and Scott Peterson (bottom) star as Frog and Toad

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Now playing through July 17th at San Diego Junior Theatre

July 1 - 17, 2011
Casa del Prado Theatre, Balboa Park

A true friend will be there through thick and thin. A true friend will last forever. A Year in the life of Frog and Toad is Directed by Courtney Corey. Music by Robert Reale. Book and Lyrics by Willie Reale.Based on the books by Arnold Lobel.

Frog and Toad is the musical journey of two amphibians as they cycle through the seasons of the year. Colorful, humorous and fun.The characters are animals in human form. Toad and Frog are played by Scott Peterson and A.J. Foggiano have bright futures ahead. Show stopper would be snail played by Emma Wineman, fantastic job.

I would like to reccomend the Frog and Toad cookies. Perfect for the show cute and delicious.

This is a wonderful family show. Quality time for kids age four to ten. Leap on over to Balboa Park for some summer entainment now.

Tickets are currently ON SALE!

Far Far away in the land of San Diego, an ogre and a princess fall in love. In a tale filled with with lessons they find what makes you different makes you strong.

Funsational, funny, family oriented fun. A show both entertaining on adult and children levels. Filled with colorful costumes, characters, and sets.

For those of you who remember the original Shrek the story is pretty much the same with a few new songs, dances, and jokes rounding out the production.

Shrek and donkey played by Eric Peterson and Alan Mingo jr will perfectly cast even to the same intonations as Meyers and Murphy. Sandra Denise did a wonderful job filling in as Fiona. Props to the whole cast. Fantastic job!!! Most doing triple duty and not even missisng a beat. And the bad guys. Lord Fanquaad recieved a standing ovation for his "little" performance. The dragon. You may think this would be hard to pull off. But thanks to the guys behind the dragon who brought the him to life with skills unbeknowst to the average ey.With the superb voice of Carrie Compere besotted by donkey.

The audience loved the show, along with me, my niece, and my three year old great niece. If you have orgre's, princess's, freaks, or anyone different in your life - this is the week to let your freak flag show down at the Civic Center.



WHEN: Currently On Sale!

PERFORMANCE DATES:         July 5 - 10, 2011

TICKET PURCHASE:               Civic Theatre Ticket Office; 1100 Third Avenue
                                                (619) 570-1100; Monday – Friday, 10AM - 6PM
                                                Ticketmaster (800) 982-2787
Ticket prices vary. For current prices, please visit              

WHERE:                                   San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B Street, Downtown San Diego

PERFORMANCE                       Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
TIMES:                                   Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
                                                Friday at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
                                                Sunday at 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

THEATRE ADDRESS:              3rd and B Street, 1100 Third Ave.

Death of a Salesman

Now playing at New Village Arts Theatre until July 3rd

Review by Allison Maderia
Photo by Daren Scott
Description: Salesman.jpg
New Village Arts Theatre wraps up their 10th anniversary season with Arthur Miller’s 1949 drama Death of a Salesman, a hard-hitting story about torn families, a father’s expectations and failed dreams.

As with most of his works, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman focuses on the common man as tragic, suffering immensely from both guilt and hope. In this play, the spotlight is on the American Dream. The story follows Willy Loman, a travelling salesman who is down on his luck. Business is bad, he is in debt and he is frustrated that his two sons Happy and Biff haven’t lived up to the dreams he imagined for them back in their teens. Death of a Salesman explores the blind faith many American families held on to in hopes of achieving their own American dream.

As the story is revealed, we are lead through a dark, intense journey where Willy grasps to keep his career and his dreams on track, wife Linda attempts to keep her home together and reconnect father and sons and their sons struggle with their futures and their father’s creeping madness.

Director Kristianne Kurner captures all the bleakness and deep levels of Miller’s drama with well-choreographed flashbacks and tableaus. Through flashbacks, we see the promise of the star athlete, Biff, and the yearning of Happy for the same attention given to his brother as well as Willy’s slowly unraveling career. The star of the show is Jack Missett as Willy. His performance is powerfully haunting and surprisingly physical as the sad salesman. Missett impeccably imbues all of the sadness, pride and hope of Willy in this production. Also giving a strong performance is Dana Case, playing the role of Linda Loman as the endearing wife and mother, who thinks the world of her husband regardless of his failures. Case is perfection in her onstage struggles with the pain and worry that occupy Linda’s day. Equally strong is John DeCarlo as the prodigal son Biff, who struggles immensely in his relationship with his father and with his own demons, as well as Greg Wittman who stars as Happy Loman, expertly playing the eager to please younger brother who yearns to be like Biff. Other memorable performances are from Eric Poppick and Kyle Lucy as father and son Charley and Bernard, providing the antithesis to Willy and his sons.

Designed by Tim Wallace, the minimal set draws us deeper into the story and sets the tone for the play. A black multi-leveled stage lets you travel between rooms in the Loman home as well as between years in the Loman history. Willy’s life and career is shown to us in vignettes with characters from his past and people in his present colliding in his mind and on on the levels of the stage, showing the madness slowly setting in. Costumes, designed by Mary Lawson reflect the period very well, from smart football uniforms to tailored business suits.

Even if you know the story of Death of a Salesman through and through, you will be impressed with this production. You will be drawn into this story through the superb storytelling of this ensemble cast. Don’t miss your chance to experience Death of a Salesman at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. Go to for tickets and more information.

My Name is Asher Lev

Reviewed by Allison Maderia

Now playing at the North Coast Repertory Theatre through June 26th

My Name is Asher LevPhoto by Aaron Rumley

North Coast Repertory’s latest show is based on the celebrated novel by Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev andshows where tradition and artistic expression collide head on. This is a story about the growth of an artist and the affects that family, religion, community and history have on his development.

The story follows a young Hassidic boy named Asher Lev. We watch as he discovers his true talent, scrutinizing the lines on his father’s face, the roads on his street and the world around him and beautifully sketching it. He is an artist, a gift given to him. But is it a good or bad gift? His deep roots as an orthodox Jew are at direct discord with artistic tradition, from paintings of the crucifixion to nude sketches. Torn between his strong Hassidic community, his strict father and his creativity, young Asher grows as an artist, as a man and a son. Will he be able to reconcile his responsibility as an observant Jewish man with his impulsive need to create art?

Directed by David Ellenstein and Christopher M. Williams, the cast consists of only three actors, changing characters so well that at times it is easy to wonder if it is the same actor onstage. Craig De Lorenzo plays Asher Lev, expertly showing the young man in many stages throughout his life, struggling with his art and how his role in both his artistic and religious community. North Coast Rep’s Artisitic Director David Ellenstein plays Asher’s father, Aryeh Lev, as well as The Rebbe and other supporting characters. Ellenstein smartly changes between the strict father, foreboding Rebbe and even a comic uncle. Crystal Sershen plays Asher’s mother Rivkeh Lev with deep emotion and sadness as well as other characters including a posh art gallery owner.

The set is minimalistic and lets the audience focus on the story and the development of Asher’s character. Designed by marty Burnett, the production smartly leaves it up to the audience’s imagination to see the art created by Asher with the stage flanked by interestingly shaped canvases and grids.

My Name is Asher Lev will immerse you deep into the world of this young man and leaves you pondering the future journey for this family. Join North Coast Repertory Theatre for performances through June 26th. Go to for tickets and more information.

A Chorus Line

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Now playing at the Lyceum San Diego Musical Theatre through June 12th


A Chorus Line opened on Broadway in 1975 and was awarded hine Tony Awards for Musical, book, Score, Choreography, Director, Actress, Featured Actor, Featured Actress, and Lighting Design. plus earned the Pulitzer prize for Drama. In 1984 A Chorus Line became t he longest-running show in Broadway history, 6,137 performances.

A Chorus Line is the story of the audition process for a Broadway musical. It's about the music, the dance and the lives of a diverse group of hopefuls as they try out for the opportunity to do something they love. At least for as long as the show runs.

As we learn about each character we reflect on how we in the audience either identify or know someone who is like them in our lives. The show is well cast. A large cast with each role matched perfectly.

My favorite number is One Singular Sensation.The dancing and music are fantastic with a show stopping number to end the show. The audience loved the play. If Chorus Line is your favorite then what a better way to support the Arts.

Children of Eden

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

Now playing at the David & Dorothy Garfield Theatre through May 22nd


J* Company youth theatre empowers children of all ages across San Diego county through dramatic arts. And have clearly proven successful once more with this rendition of the new religious musical Children of Eden. Written by Stephen Schwartz of Pippin, Godspell, Prince of Egypt, and Disney's Pocahontas fame.

Children of Eden is the story of the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark. The tale of Adam and Eve and their descendants as they pass down the staff of life.

My hats off to Joey Landwehr. I have personally been in shows with a large amount of children and youth and they can be a challenge to work with. Joey has done an amazing job with his cast of at least fifty youth. A huge accomplishment in itself. Not only did they put on a great show filled with spiritual music, but captivated the audience with storytelling that kept kids from of all ages (and this theatre has almost more kids than adults in attendance), and adults enthralled. No one fidgited as might be ecpected with this type material. The show  also ran about thirty minutes longer than most plays yet did not appear to be long. No looking at your watch to see when it would be over.

The play was filled with music and my favorite was the Children of Eden. I loved thie beautiful poignant lyrics of the song. As for a favorite scene watch for the snake scene. The snakes did an excellent job with their hiss sounds.

J*Company is all about making everything a learning experience from play themes to partnering with great organizations youth can take with them in their lives. The upcoming season they will partner with La Jolla Playhouse. Look forward to some wonderful plays.

Come out and support our youth! 

May 13 - 22.  JCC Box Office at 858-362-1348

Friday, May 13, 2011          10:00 a.m. –School Show!
Saturday, May 14, 2011      8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 15, 2011         1:00 & 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 19, 2011      7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 20, 2011         10:00 a.m. –School Show!
Saturday, May 21, 2011      8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22, 2011       1:00 & 4:30 p.m.

Let Me Down Easy

Now playing at the Lyceum Theatre until May 15th

Review by Allison Maderia
Photo by Joan Marcus
Let Me Down Easy
In a joint production, San Diego REPertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse have joined together to bring one of the most prolific storytellers of our time to San Diego. Anna Deavere Smith is an award-winning playwright, documentarian and actress who never fails to deliver an impactful, thoughtful and profound message on the stage.

In Let Me Down Easy, Smith explores the general state of medical care and the American health care system, from health insurance to hospital administration, coping with illness to the mourning of loved ones. What started as Smith’s discomfort around the sick has turned to a compassionate narrative that explores love and loss and exposes the state of care for the sick in the States. The show is a tableau of the American character, human resilience, big business and compassionate toughness.

Anna Deavere Smith is well-known for her documentary theatre. In her past shows, Fires in the Mirror and Twilight:  Los Angeles, Deavere Smith grabs a hold of tumultuous events, explores and shapes a narrative from the first-hand interviews of people involved. Here, inspired by her work at the Yale School of Medicine, Smith takes years of interviews with patients and healthcare providers from all walks of life and pieces together a narrative that shows the vulnerability of the body, of the human experience and the range of experiences we have on this earth because of politics, race, gender, religion, economics.

Smith’s ability show the range of American experiences and resilience within the scope of pain and sadness is powerful. Patients interviewed range from a rodeo cowboy who proudly paid a flat rate for his care and is now a champion of universal healthcare to a mother whose daughter died during dialysis and now refuses her own her treatment. She also presents poignant, touching scenes, such as Smith’s aunt Lorraine’s “Gloves”, which illustrate the bittersweet memories of lost loved ones.

Smith also shows the side of the well-to-do patient, celebrities with money to provide for teams of physicians and top-notch care. From former Texas governor Ann Richards talking about the amazing team she can afford because of her numerous healthcare plans, to Lance Armstrong’s lack of pity for a second-place racer because he did not have the same team support.

Smith says, “my work is about really using my ability to mimic…to watch me try to put my hand inside and pull up something that is the matter and to offer that to you to use the considerable intelligence that you have…To see what you can do about it or want to do about it.” Sharply juxtaposing those of higher social-economic status with one New Orleans doctor’s sadness that her team, the government, had let down an entire hospital of patients during Hurricane Katrina, it is clear that Smith is presenting us with a problem. What we do with it is her gift, her inspiration to us.

The magic of Smith’s performance is not only the richness of the narratives, but watching her embody each character through speech, movement and gesture, changing quickly yet at the same time drawing out the transformation so the audience is aware. Celebrities such as Lance Armstrong, Eve Ensler and Lauren Hutton seem to be caricatures of themselves, but Smith is a pro at mimicking her interviewees, down to the tone of their voices and their slight gestures.

Poignant, sweet, heartbreaking, warm and humorous – Deavere Smith’s narrative not only presents us with the problems abound in America’s health care system, but also show the perseverance of the American spirit. Let Me Down Easy is playing until May 15th at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most prolific theatre makers of our time. Go to for tickets and more information.


King O’ the Moon

Now playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre until May 8th 

Review by Allison Maderia-Joseph
Photo by Aaron Rumley

King O' the MoonNorth Coast Repertory Theatre’s current show, King O’ the Moon, is part of a semi-fictional trio of comedies called the “Over the Tavern Triology” by Tom Dudzick. This show will win your heart over with the highs and lows of family drama and nostalgia.

The story follows the Pazinski family, reunited against the backdrop of the 1969 moon landing, sexual revolution and Vietnam War, who are trying to navigate the times that are a-changing. Son Eddie (Ross Hellwig) has joined the Army and is dealing with the emotions of his upcoming deployment to Vietnam and becoming a new father. His brother, Rudy (Kevin Koppman-Gue) returns home from seminary preaching more than religion – he has found his calling as a anti-war protestor. Mother Ellen (Kandis Chappell) is busy juggling the tavern, a new relationship and the care of her son Georgie (Julian Conrad) who has down-syndrome. And daughter Annie (Krysten Hafso) is dealing with her own relationship and martial issues. The family reunites for their annual memorial for the father and we watch as relationships are tested, renewed and rejoiced.

The cast is spectacular, genuinely playing the roles of feuding yet loving brothers, sisters, and parents. Rounding out the cast are Sunny Smith as Eddie’s expectant wife Maureen and John Herzog as Walter, the two newest members of the Pazinski brood. The shining stars of the cast are Conrad, expertly playing Georgie with respect, humor, sincerity and such sweetness. As well as Chappell as Ellen, the glue of the family yet a playful mother who can still keep her rambunctious family in line. Equally strong are the dynamics between brothers as Koppman-Gue and Hellwig wrestle around the stage, physically showing the struggle of brotherly love and competition.

Directed by Matt Thomspon, the play focuses on the relationships between family members, whether they are strained or not. The physicality of brotherly love was very well played on stage, as well as the hurt and that can come with betrayal or tense relationships. This is a story about the close knit, yet fragile relationships between brothers and sisters, mentors and students, new loves and mothers and children. It shows how families can be torn apart by politics and creeds but how deep, family love can overcome all.

King O’ the Moon will leave you with a bright smile of your face. Join North Coast Repertory Theatre with performances through May 8th. Go to for tickets and more information.


Now playing at the Lawrence Welk Theater, April 13 through April 24, 2011

Reviewed by Diane Dunaway Kramer & Barry Jacobsen

Ask anyone who was alive in the first half of the 1960s, and they will tell you: the Rat Pack was the gold-standard for “cool”.

These famed hipsters, comprised of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Peter Lauford, and the stand-up comic Joey Bishop; ruled the Las Vegas Strip and the stages of Atlantic City from 1959 to 1965. 

The “handle” for this collection of mostly-bachelors was (so-the-story-goes) bestowed up them by movie star Lauren Becalll. Apparently the boys came home from a weekend in Vegas to the Hollywood home she shared with her husband, and early Rat Packer, Humphrey Bogart. As the lads staggered in after a prolonged weekend on the town, she took one look at them and reportedly said, “You look like a GD rat pack”!

More than just a gang of singers, they put on a show devoted to song, dance, friendship and fun. Oh, and don’t forget drinking! Frank, Dean and Sammy supplied the song and dance. Joey cracked jokes with his trademark deadpan. And Peter..... well, he supplied oodles of British sophistication.  Such celebrities as Marilynn Monroe, Angie Dickenson, Shirley MacLaine, mob boss Sam Giancana  and even President John F. Kennedy were proud to bask in the glory of their collective cool.

Sadly those days are behind us. That is, unless you go to Escondido’s Lawrence Welk Theater; where the Rat Pack tribute show Drinkin Singin Swingin performs  April 13th through the 24th.

Just like in Las Vegas of old, the show opens with a stand-up comedienne warming up the audience. In this case, he is laugh-out-loud funny David Gee. Over the first ten minutes, he loosened up the crowd and prepared us for what was to come.

Enter Dean Martin (Rick Michel), singing Dino staples like “Ain’t That a Kick in Head”, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”, and “Volare.” Drink in hand, Michel glides and staggers through jokes and songs, capturing the essence of Dean Martin.

Dino then brings on stage Sammy Davis Junior (Bryan Clark), exiting to go find another drink! Sammy steps up, and boy, does he take over!
Displaying a level of talent worthy of Sammy himself, Clark brings back the smooth shuffles, velvet voice, and even the trademark facial ticks of the late, great, entertainer.  Clark brought down the house with such favorites as ” Mr.Bojangles” and “What Kind of Fool Am I” (which included a spot-on parody of Anthony Neully). He also wowed the audience with his dance steps and comic impersonations of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and (his very best) as Michael Jackson. Clark oozes talent!

“Sammy”, in turn brought out his amigo, Frank Sinatra (Sebastian Anzaldo). The two sang and danced their way through a terrific “Me and My Shadow”. Frank then closed out Act One with the song sung at every Yankee’s game: “New York New York”. Anzaldo has the mature Sinatra cool down pat; displaying throughout the performance an ever increasing vocal range and power.

Act Two brought out the boys, doing the trademark musical number, “Together”.  They then took turns with their favorite songs, jokes, and impersonations.  As with his “amigos”, when we squinted  our eyes we could almost imaging being at a Vegas nightclub in the day;  as Anzaldo’s  performed his renditions of Sinatra favorites “Fly me to the Moon” and “Lady is a Tramp”.

The show closed with a resounding bang, as the all three took the stage for their version of “My Way”. And did they ever do it their way.... And “their way” was the right way! The standing ovation from an appreciative audience saw this talented crew of performers and musicians (the band was simply perfect!) leave the stage.

Though it was the middle of the day, I left feeling like I’d been on The Strip, drinking with “the Boys” all night!
If Rat Pack is your thing, don’t miss this show!

Come early for an expansive buffet of delicious American comfort food at the Canyon Grille, just steps from the theater entrance.




Now playing at the CORONADO PLAYHOUSE, through May 15, 2011

Reviewed by Kathy Carpenter

If you ever imagined life in a trailer park in the south? The Great American Trailer Park Musical would be it, Sterotypical characters and their heart-warming stories sung and told by a trio of brassy, trashy, funny, trailor-park divas.

The story takes place in Armadilla Acres ( well mostly) , a trailor park in Florida. With slight stops at a strip club, and a mall. With the three divas personal stories, and a story between a husband, his wife who hasn't left their trailer in twenty years, and the newbie in the trailer-park. A stripper who comes between them, and her ex-boyfriend.

The play is fun, entertaining, and ecapism at it's best. Director Nick Reeves showcased the perfect cast. Lisa Allison at Betty, Dawn Marie Zuniga-Williams as lin, Nichol Reeves as Pickles, (the divas), Don Evans, (the husband), Mary Augustine, (the wife) and Stephanie Jenkins, as Pippi, (The stripper), and Dean Sage (ex-boyfriend), Rounding out the cast winor roles were Bekah Christie, and Chris Megginson in minor roles.

Someone in the audience said it reminded them of summerstock. For those of you who know what that means.

The set simple but functional. The costumes trailer-park diva-glam at their most fun with plenty of changes.

Music is country bluesy-rock. With catchy tunes you will be singing as you walk away. So step away for you life for a a couple hours and become part of Armadilla Acres for an evening. Find out what life would be like if you lived on the wrong side of the tracks.


Now playing at the NEW VILLAGE ARTS THEATRE hrough March 27, 2011

Review by Allison Maderia-Joseph
Photos from Adam Brick

The clang of the starting gate, the brightly-colored hats bobbing in the stands, the stomping of hooves and whoosh of air as thoroughbreds speed around the racetrack. These are the sights and sounds of the grand, glamorous horse races at the Del Mar Racetrack and Kentucky Derby. However, there is a seedy underbelly of the racing world and Sam Shepard shows us the greed and backstabbing that goes along with the sport in his 1993 drama Simpatico, produced at New Village Arts Theatre as part of their 10th season celebration.

As with most of Shepard’s dramas, we are shown a subversive view of Americana and in Simpatico we are presented with the dark side of this glamorized sport. The story follows Vinnie and Carter, who were the ringleaders of a racing scam fifteen years ago. When a racing official, Simms, found out about their misdeeds, they devised a scheme to blackmail him, which involved Vinnie’s girlfriend Rosie and some racy photos. Fast forward fifteen years and we meet Vinnie and Carter in a messy apartment in Ponoma and find out that Carter stole Rosie from Vinnie, along with his Buick, and has been living the high life with plenty of money and power while Vinnie became a struggling drunk in need of Carter’s assistance. Both are suffering from the guilt and paranoia resulting from their crimes. The back story is slowly unraveled and we are pulled into a world of uncertainty, changed identities, blackmail and greed. Will the blackmail materials re-emerge and threaten Carter’s new life or will the past remain buried?

Directed by Lisa Berger, the production is full of tension and powerful, passionate performances. Yet what is fascinating is in the quiet moments and in what is left unsaid. Berger and the actors do a fantastic job with the moments in between, the silent struggles, pointed looks and intrigue. Mike Sears gives a fantastic physical performance as sneaky Carter (the ones you have to watch out for are the Protestants in loafers with no mud on their shoes). Sears skillfully shows how Carter’s sanity is on the edge of breaking throughout the play until he is writhing on the floor in mental and physical anguish. Manny Fernandes shines as Vinnie with his seamless switches between bouts of drunken anger, guilt and calculating guile. Racing savant Simms and Vinnie’s new girlfriend Cecilia are both gems. Simms, played by Jack Missett, is hysterical with his fast and cheeky wit. Expertly played by Kim Strassburger, Cecilia is the most intriguing character in the play, her quirkiness and innocence making her likable but a mystery in terms of her participation in the whole affair.

The set, designed by Tim Wallace, reflects the world of the play very well. Set on a drastic angle, we feel like the actors will fall off at any moment, reflecting the teetering world of the characters where the hammer may fall at any moment, shoving these characters into a tailspin that would further change their lives forever.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Shepard’s haunted characters brought to life at New Village Arts Theatre with performances through March 27th. Go to tickets and more information.



Now playing at the POWAY'S COMMUNITY THEATRE through March 27, 2011

Review by Allison Maderia-Joseph
Photos from Adam Brick

SKINDEEPHow many times do you get a second chance at love?

Skin Deep is a story about the middle-age dating and second chances to fall in love. The story follows a pair of middle-age sisters, Maureen, who has a weight problem, and Sheila, who has a plastic surgery problem. Sheila has been trying to “fix” her sister’s broken heart, but Maureen has been hurt and cannot let her defenses down long enough to let love in. Through many shticks and tricks, Sheila and her husband Squire get Maureen to go on a blind date with Joseph Spinelli, a loveable underdog with an innocent, straightforward charm. Will Maureen be able to give love one last shot or is she destined for lonesomeness, surrounded by Chinese takeout boxes?

This play keeps the audience howling with laughter but misses an opportunity to dive below the surface due to the unending wisecracks that hold back the dialogue. It seems as though the playwright is trying to make a point about female insecurity even in the face of loving adoration; however, this gets lost in the abundance of jokes. With wisecracks delivered directly to the audience and collective sighs and laughter in all the right places, this script best fits a sit-com television set. It is a fun show, but one that lacks the depth that could be an otherwise promising story.

The actors do very well with the stock characters they are given. Shirley Coggon plays Maureen Mulligan, the likeable spinster full of self-deprecating jibes.  Real-life husband and wife team Sam and Cheryl Warner play Sheila and Squire Whiting with such sweetness that spare what could otherwise be unlikable, superficial characters. He is a debonair lady-killer and she, a “classy New York lady” with too many personal enhancements. Cheryl generates huge laughs with her outrageous lines and great shrieks reminiscent of television sketch comedy. The loveable oaf Aloysius Joseph Spinelli, played by Joe Salazzo, steals the show with a great Brooklyn accent and innocent thick-headedness. His comedic timing was right on track and stole the hearts of the audience, evidenced by the cooing in the second act.

This show will put a smile of your face because of its quick wit and likeable characters. Join in on the laughsat Poway’s Community Theatre with weekend performances through March 27th. Go to for tickets and more information.


Now playing at the WELK RESORT hrough March 27, 2011

Reviewed by Diane Dunaway Kramer and Barry Jacobsen

Michaelia Leigh and Randall Dodge
The Fantasticks is often called the best loved and least known show in American Musical Theatre; which is to say that while relatively few have seen it, those who have, adore it.  Director Ray Limon’s updated version of this Off-Broadway classic provides an entertaining evening and a singular perspective to this timeless theatre favorite.

The Fantasticks has the distinction of being the longest running show in American Musical Theatre history. The original Off-Broadway production by authors Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music) debuted on May 3,1960 in New York City’s Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village. Though opening to small audiences, The Fantasticks steadily built a loyal and enthusiastic audience. In fact, the show continued in its run until the year Jan 13, 2002; an unmatched record of nearly 42 years of continuous performance. The show has cast in its day such luminaries as Jerry Orbach, Recardo Montablan, and F. Murray Abraham (“El Gallo”); Kenneth Nelson, Bert Convey, and John Davidson (‘Matt’); and Rita Gardner and Kristin Chenoweth (“Luisa”). 

In 2006 author Tom Jones revived the show at Broadway’s Snapple Theatre in Time Square. Jones, who played ‘Henry’ in the original Off-Broadway production, not only directed the show; but reprised the show as the old actor after a 40 year hiatus! 

Based upon "Les Romanesques" by Edmond Rostand, ‘The Fantastics’ is at heart a story of love found; lost; and then rediscovered. It is a story of the changes that life forges in us; metaphorically corresponding to the changing of the seasons. It casts illumination upon the nature of the complex relationship between parents and their children; the ephemeral whimsy of adolescent puppy love; and ultimately and most importantly this one simple truth: ‘without a hurt, the heart is hollow”. Because without pain, there can be no growth. In the words of the show’s narrator, the character El Gallo (Randall Dodge), “We all have to die a bit before we can grow again.”

If you’ve never experienced Randall Dodge’s glorious baritone, you are in for a real treat! Dodge masters every song, particularly the classic, “Try to Remember”. He strides comfortably in the footsteps of Mel Tourme and Jerry Orbach.

At its most basic level it is about a mock feud manufactured by two old friends: the fathers Bellomy (Brett Daniels) and Hucklebee (Dirk Rogers), in order to manipulate their two children into a romance that will ultimately lead to the union of their two families. Utilizing some amateur reverse psychology, the wily fathers have convinced their offspring that they are forbidden to meet; all the while knowing that this is exactly what will drive them together. 

Act One is set “in the moonlight”.

Having built a wall between their houses, the fathers sit back and watch with secret, satisfied, amusement as their children can’t resist either Act One’s romantic moonlight, or the fruit of the forbidden. Defying the wall and their fathers, the children fall in love.

The father’s problem then becomes how to end the sham feud in a convincing manner and allow the children to unite and nature to take its course. 

Enter El Gallo; who we first meet as the show’s Narrator singing the classic hit “Try to Remember.”

El Gallo is the thread that holds the show together. As both The Narrator, orchestrating events; and as the bandit El Gallo, he acts as a catalyst to move events forward. . El Gallo sells the fathers on the concept of the classic ‘rape’ (as in the Sabine Women), complete with a supporting cast of rogues and villains. 

El Gallo skeptically sub-contracts the services of the aging and quite possibly senile Shakespearian actor, “Henry” (Walter Smith). Henry can’t always recall his lines or which play he is reciting from; and auditions with a scene-stealing mismatch of Shakespearian bits-and-pieces delivered in an laugh-out-loud potpourri. His side kick, “Mortimer” (Shaun Leslie Thomas), specializes in the noble ‘art’ of staged death and adds to the cyclonic comic confusion that the pair bring to every scene.

In the ‘Rape Ballet’ the lovers are surprised in their evening tryst in a forest glade by El Gallo and his band of rogues. Matt is allowed to play the hero, saving Luisa from apparent abduction in a mock duel with El Gallo. The event ‘wins’ the father’s seemingly reluctant approval, and they savor the successful conclusion of their scheme. The first act ends with the lovers united and all are seemingly happy.


In the glaring sunlight of Act Two, everything looks different and ‘ordinary.’ Luisa is suddenly just ‘the girl next door.’ Matt appears to Luisa as “a poseur”. Even the fathers, old friends though they are, soon find that familiarity breeds contempt. The simple truth is that without the artificial stimulus of “the taboo”, the children’s puppy love is unsustainable. Luisa misses the adventure of forbidden romance. Matt fantasizes about adventures he might have if he could leave this place and travel the unknown roads.

With El Gallo’s manipulative help Matt does leave to seek his fame and fortune in the abusive company of Henry and Mortimer. El Gallo remains to sweep Luisa off her feet, taking her on a fantasy tour of the world in the number ‘Round and Round.’ But he is only setting her up for the inevitable fall. Once he has stolen her heart, he shatters it by leaving, and taking with him her most prized possession.

Matt returns, wounded, chastened, humbler and wiser. A sadder Luisa welcomes him back as both realize that the real is better than the fantastic; and that only through pain can we grow enough to experience the joy of true love.

The show ends with the lovers reunited and the fathers calling for the wall to once again be taken down. But as El Gallo chides them, “No leave the wall. Remember, you must always leave the wall.”

As the fathers, Rogers and Daniels bring verve to their respective roles; and their harmonies were delightful. 

But the center of the show revolves around the lover s. 

Michaelia Leigh completely inhabits the role of “Luisa” and seems to have been born to play it. Leigh’s lovely, angelic soprano was fully up to the task; and vocally is highly reminiscent of the original cast recording’s Luisa from 1962, Rita Gardner. 

Benjamen Zep Misek as Matt has a superb voice; which harmonized beautifully in his duets with Leigh. However, Misek sometimes misses the wry irony in the words, particularly in the second act.

Michael Lopez as ‘The Mute’ effectively provides props, weather and human scenery, not to mention comic sound effects. He is a graceful and unobtrusive presence.

Justin Gray, as Musical Director and pianist; and Celia Chan Valerio on harp brought to life this classic score; and wonderfully enhanced the various moods of the scenes. One should bear in mind that, in the original staging, the Fantasticks required two pianos. Gray masterfully accompanied the show on only one.

Our chief criticism lies in the slow pace and lack of timing of much of the show; particularly the Second Act, which just seemed to run out of steam.

That said, this show provides the audience with a sumptuous auditory experience, and is a great introduction to a classic show.

For those who have never experienced the Welk Resort Theater, you are in for a wonderful surprise. The seats are comfortable, and there isn’t a bad view in the house. The lobby is cleverly decorated with memorabilia from the career of the late-great Lawrence Welk, king of “champagne music”!

Come early and enjoy the buffet: it consists of the standard all-American comfort food, beef, chicken, mashed potatoes and an array of salads and desserts. All quite good and provides a festive pre-show experience for the whole family.

Welk Resort Theater

The Wizard of Oz

At the Civic Theatre February 15 - 20, 2011 -

Review by Kathy Carpenter

It's estimated that L.Frank Baum's tale of Dorothy's journey through the world of Oz has entertained audiences of over one billion people world wide. How long has it been since you traveled the yellow brick road?

San Diego Broadway's version of the classic story gives us the traditional scenes from the movie we love with a blend of new theatrics to keep things fresh.

We all know the story of the teenager, Dorothy Gale, who ran away from home to find her hearts desire. Along the way she meets, the Scarecrow, the Tin man, and the Cowardly lion, who help Dorothy overtake her nemesis the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy learns: never look further than your own backyard because if it's further you probably never lost it at all.

Kate Bristol as Dorothy brings back memories of Judy Garland. Jesse Coleman, Beua Hutchings, and Andrew Haserlat, win your hearts as the lion, tin man, and scarecrow. Add colorful costumes, special effects and a talent-laden ensemble and you have a magical evening.

My favorite scene, along with a lot of others I heard from, was the poppy scene. Absolutely beautiful, new and fresh.

Let your inner child come back out or introduce your own child or someone you know to to wonder of The Wizard of OZ.


Leading Ladies

Now playing at the Coronado Playhouse through March 6, 2011

Reveiw by Kathy Carpenter

Do you rember the romantic comedies of the 1950's?

Coronado Playhouse opens it's 11th season with Ken Ludwig's laugh-out-loud- farce "Leading Ladies." Ken also wrote
"Lend Me a Tenor" and " Moon Over Buffalo."

In the tradition of "Some Like it Hot" "Leading Ladies" is the story of two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors who decide to impersonate woman to inherirant a dying old lady's fortune.

Complications ensue when dressed as woman they start to fall for the female cousin and her friend. And due to the fact her long lost neices have returned home the old lady's health is on the rise.

Under the direction of Keith Anderson the ensemble flourishes. Cast perfectly from my favorite Stephanie/Jack played by Frank Godinez whose zaniness brought me laughter time and time again, to Don Evans, Leo/Maxzine, Nathan Boyer/ Butch, the skater's boyfriend, Stephen McLaughlin, Doc Myers, D.J. McLaughlin, old lady, Savannah Remington, the wonderful roller skating friend, Jessica Seaman, the brillant female cousin, and lastly her fiancee, Robert Shadbolt.

The entire production rocked it's mischievouse antics from start to finish.

In a life where we need moments of joy fill two hours you won't regret. Tickets are $20 on Thursday and Sunday $25 Friday and Saturday. Call (619) 435-4856 or website above. Great for all ages. Ask about senior/stundents/military/ or group discounts.

Painting Churches

Now playing at Scripps Ranch Theatre until February 12th

Review by Allison Maderia-Joseph
Image from Scripps Ranch Theatre

When memoires fail, all we have left are portraits and pictures. What happens if what appears is from the truth?

Scripps Ranch Theatre is celebrating their 32nd season with their latest show, Painting Churches by Tina Howe, a poignant, bittersweet drama about fleeting memories.

This is a story about what happens to a family when dementia slowly creeps in to one family member’s mind. The story follows the Church family, mother Fanny, father Gardner and daughter Margaret (a.k.a Mags). The Church family is an affluent one, stemming from old money, but Gardner is also a Pulitzer-winning, famous poet who relishes in the delicate prose and poetry of words. Fanny is the adoring wife and mother who appears to live life with ease and glee, lovingly supporting her husband as he daydreams in his office. Daughter Mags is a bit of a rebel, leaving affluent Boston to live in New York City as an artist and teacher, but is on the rise to her own fame as a prominent portrait artist. Mags returns to Boston to help her parents move from their residence in Boston to a small cottage in Cotuit, Mass. During her visit, Mags coaxes her parents into sitting for a portrait and we watch as the cloak of gaiety is pulled back to reveal the grip that dementia has on Gardner. Will Mags come to accept or ignore the symptoms, painting her family as she wants them to appear, or how they truly are?

Directed by Robert May, the production balanced heavy emotions with carefree humor quite well. Little tableaus of emotion and lighthearted gags give a sense of familiarity to this family and provide a needed depth to their characters. The actors playing the Church family were a very cohesive and well-established local cast. Giving strong performances are Jill Drexler as Fanny, expertly portraying a carefree fun-loving wife, who harbors a secret sadness. DeNae Steele plays Mags, showing such a wide range of emotions while on this path to discovery. Charlie Riendeau plays Gardner, seamlessly switching between fleeting moments of sanity and bouts of forgetfulness, anger and sad glee.

Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Producing Director Allan Salkin provided an ovation to the entire production team in the program, highlighting the importance of the invisible hands that are ever-present in theatre productions. These visible hands – from costume designer to stage managers - produced a wonderful show. The set, designed and constructed by Tim Wallace, Darin Hibi, and Lesley Fitzpatrick, focuses on the Church family home and relied heavily on props to move the time forward. They made well use of the wide stage and were very precise in the details, down to the outlines that were memoires of paintings that hung on walls for years.

This show will surprise you with its bittersweet mirth. Don’t miss your chance to experience Painting Churches at Scripps Ranch Theatre with weekend performances through February 12th. Go to for tickets and more information.

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