Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith is the senior writer at the Reader; he began reviewing theater in 1980. He also writes a local history column. He has a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from the University of California, Irvine, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare. He was the original writing director of two University of California freshman composition programs: the Humanities Core Course, at Irvine, and the Revelle Humanities/Writing Program at UCSD. Over the years, Jeff has dramaturged dozens of shows. Favorites include Sam Shepard’s Tooth of Crime, Peter Barnes’s Red Noses (both at the San Diego Rep), Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (North Coast Rep), Things May Disimprove: Samuel Becket One-Acts (L&L Productions), and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (New Village Arts).

He is currently converting several columns into ebook format:

Latest Articles

North Coast Rep stages Ain’t Misbehavin’ with triple-threat actors

Waller’s songs tell stories.

With one major exception, the North Coast Rep’s doing a bang-up job with Ain’t Misbehavin’, Murray Horwitz, Richard Maltby, Jr., and Luther Henderson’s musical revue/tribute to the legendary Thomas “Fats” Waller (1904–1943). The title comes ...

Gypsy’s one mother of a musical at Cygnet

Mama Rose could have been, as someone says, “a pioneer woman without a frontier.”

The great musical Gypsy begins with Baby June and Louise auditioning for Uncle Jocko the Clown. He obviously loathes tryouts and children. Louise is inaudible. Just when you’d expect him to scream, a vocal bomb ...

...and a set in crisp black-and-white soaked in bourbon

A designer's bucket list: Sean Fanning

I’ve been asking veteran actors to name five dream roles and say why. It’s time to expand the category and ask theater designers and directors their dream projects. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they ...

Broken niceties and skewerings

Ruthless at Moxie Theatre

I love Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood. Gerard Alessandrini’s revue/parodies of popular shows used to come to San Diego. They hit hard, fast, and deep. His latest, Spamilton: An American Parody, promises to be “$800 ...

Fly-on-the-wall invasion

Sense and Sensibility at Old Globe Theatre

Ardent lovers of Jane Austen’s novels are in for a shock when they arrive for the Old Globe’s Sense and Sensibility. They won’t see the fog-shrouded southeastern coast of Sussex or the milder clime of ...

Last call: Sunday in the Park with George

Dot lover

Between 1884 and 1886 (and briefly in 1889) the young, practically unknown painter Georges Seurat applied tiny dots of pure color to a canvas, knowing that clusters would form a different color in the eye ...

Daring and daunting authenticity in The Last Tiger in Haiti

Haitian folklore

In French, “rester avec” sounds pleasant. It means to “stay with.” In Haiti, a “restavek” is a child from a family so poor they cannot support it. Haiti is the poorest country in the Caribbean ...

Hard-rock score

Jesus Christ Superstar at Welk Resort Theatre

The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera may be “loosely” based on the last days of Jesus, but the Welk Resort Theatre’s dazzling JC Superstar is tight as a tourniquet. All elements cohere. All the ...

If you are afraid, do it

My acting bucket list: Kevin Hafso-Koppman

I’m asking veteran actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even choices that ...

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