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Stories by Jeff Smith

Bill Virchis knows what the theater community needs right now

San Diego theater needs an Incubator, says accomplished, devoted local

If there were a San Diego Theater Hall of Fame, William Virchis would be a first ballot honoree. He has acted, directed, and produced theater almost since his birth, in 1944. He’s also taught thousands ...

Last Call: West Side Story, Parlour Song

Two quality shows must close this Sunday. One enjoyed an extended run. The other deserved one.

West Side Story. “Here come the Jets like a bat out of hell, someone gets in our way, someone don’t feel so well!” Lamb’s Players excellent show has enjoyed an extended run with good reason: ...

No buffer zones

In Parlour Song at Backyard Renaissance, sea beasts lurk and rove below a mirror-still surface

Toward the end of Jez Butterworth’s eerie, Pinteresque Parlour Song, Dale ruminates. What if you find a door in your house you never knew was there before. “Would you open it?” Ned blows up buildings ...

My Acting Bucket List: Francis Gercke

The Craig Noel Award-winner puts a twist on his list and selects stories instead of roles

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 ...

Cirque du Chaotic

Too much crammed into too little at the Playhouse's Up Here

Long before the dancing cacti showed up or Audrey III flapped mastic jaws in a pile of laundry, I began to wonder if Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s romantic-comedy musical, Up Here, was actually a ...

Absurdist inquisition

The Birthday Party at New Fortune Theatre is funny, until it isn't.

When a young actor, Harold Pinter needed a place to stay at a rainy, seaside town. A man in a pub suggested a nearby boarding house, but couldn’t vouch for its cleanliness. Pinter lodged in ...

My acting bucket list: Allison Spratt Pearce

Strong, classic, versatile roles attract the veteran actor

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 ...

Last Call: Kiss Me, Kate, and the Fringe winners are...

The Old Globe’s mega hit must close Sunday and the most Fringelicious selections for 2015

Kiss Me Kate. The Old Globe’s mega hit must close Sunday. No if’s, and’s, or could we start again please’s. In 2013, Darko Trasnjak, former artistic director at the Globe, brought us a gem of ...

Two-act magic show

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Old Globe Theatre is not about the mind or mystery, but the execution itself

How to characterize Ken Ludwig’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous mystery? It’s not an all-out spoof, since it wades through pages and pages of exposition about the monster hound haunting the moors of ...

Eve of destruction

Cygnet stages Dogfight; New Village Arts explores Forbidden Planet

Did Eddie spend four years in Vietnam? Or did it just seem that way?

Little man with a big gun

The Strange Case of Mr. Wallace Leach, Part Two

Wallace Leach barged into the Occidental Hotel bar with a broken nose and a powerful thirst. He was in San Francisco on business, he said, but was out for revenge. He came to hire a ...

Last Call: The Quality of Life & Fringe Fest best

The Fringe Festival ends this Sunday. As does one of San Diego’s best dramatic productions in years. The Quality of Life. Intrepid Theatre Company mounted Jane Anderson’s heart-wrenching, gut-busting play at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, ...

The Strange Case of Mr. Wallace Leach

Part One: “Circular Insanity”

The sun over Coronado said 3 p.m. Wallace Leach bumbled out the side door of the Horton House bar and shielded his eyes from the glare. Though a snappy dresser — he was one of ...

San Diego Fringe: Big Kitchen: A Counter Culture Musical

Big Kitchen: A Counter Culture Musical. San Diego should confer the equivalent of knighthood on its special ones — those who have devoted decades to making some part of “America’s Finest City” approach that inflated ...

San Diego Fringe: ¿Y Tú Qué?

¿Y Tú Qué? When the prima ballerina couldn’t use her legs, she created a “dance on wheels.” Rossana Penaloza performed in Peru (her home country), Havana, Cuba, and Mexico City, always to robust applause. For ...

San Diego Fringe: 84 Gradini and Jay & Charlie Get Drunk

84 Gradini. Kinetic Giuseppi Mortelliti tells his story as much with his body as his words. His character, Fabrizio, learns that “life is made of stairs, of obstacles, of ups and downs.” But he has ...

San Diego Fringe: Tears of the Knife and My Mother’s in the Audience

Tears of the Knife. Ah, the Fringe Festival! Where else in San Diego can you walk into a theater and see a hanged man, his head in a gunny sack, looming above the stage? And ...

Hurlers and the behind in Lockling Square

Boys of summer, 1880 edition

Bay City’s taking on The Resolutes today at Lockling Square. As the players warm up, some shout encouragement, but most stand stiff. They toss and catch the ball with affected grace, as if posing for ...

Bust those eyeballs!

11 days, 430 events: the third-annual San Diego International Fringe Festival is here

There’s that eyeball-buster logo again! The third annual San Diego International Fringe Festival begins Thursday, July 23 and runs through August 2. That’s eleven days. As fans of the first two found out, they go ...

Kiss Me, Kate's brassy, unfettered swagger

Wunderbar!

When Patricia Morrison and Alfred Drake began rehearsing Cole Porter’s latest effort, they weren’t impressed. “We were using just a piano,” she recalled. “It was so disjointed we didn’t think we had a hit.” Then ...

My acting bucket list: Randall Dodge

The Craig Noel Award-winning actor talks about roles he can't wait to take on

I’m asking veteran local 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 ...

Girls will be boys in the Old Globe's Twelfth Night

Energy's external

Production takes Shakespeare’s night of revels out of doors.

Hold nothing back

The Quality of Life amazes at Intrepid Theatre Company

Intrepid Theatre’s casting is so spot on, it’s as if Jane Anderson wrote her four-hander, The Quality of Life, for Jeffrey Jones (Neil), Deanna Driscoll (Jeanette), Tom Stephenson (Bill), and Maggie Carney (Dinah). Even their ...

My Acting Bucket List: Jessica John Gercke

The Craig Noel Award-winner has an affinity for deep, complex characters

I’m asking veteran local 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 ...

July is busting out all over!

Theater preview for the month to come

T’is the season. Count some of the ways: NOW PLAYING: La Jolla Playhouse: Come From Away. The world premiere musical, by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, creates a comedy within a tragedy. On the morning ...

History out the corner of your eye

Place, people, and change with Asian Story Theatre’s Stories of the Sun Café

Asian Story Theatre’s Stories of the Sun Café runs three performances through the weekend of June 27-29. Written by Kent Brisby, who researched the subject with Joyce Teague for two years, the piece is the ...

In search of Romeo and Juliet

The course of true history never did run smooth

Lamb’s Players fine production of West Side Story raises a question. The musical based Tony and Maria on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But where did the Bard’s star-crossed lovers come from? And were they real? ...

Four-alarm blazer

Lamb’s Players continues the streak with West Side Story

Musicals have iconic images: a Huey helicopter? Miss Saigon; white semi-mask? Phantom; Julie Andrews’ 360 on a green hill, dressed like a risqué Puritan? Sound of Music, the movie. How about a chain-link fence and ...

Those damn beehives!

Hattie Ada Dougherty granted a license to burn

Back in 1888, Hattie “Ada” Dougherty had a ranch between Japatul and Sacatera, southeast of Alpine. She wanted to clear some land for ploughing but couldn’t. Her neighbor, an old, unnamed man had some of ...

Fleeting utopia

In Come From Away, a group of people withdraw from the world — for a time

When’s the last time a musical began not with a Carillion-style fanfare of intent, but with the crisp, insistent pounding of a hand drum? Then a fiddle slashes in and things go Celtic — tight, ...

Miles away from the legend

Ion Theatre searches for the reality behind the drama with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

Were she still alive, Billie Holiday would have turned 100 last April. That would have surprised the hell out of “Lady Day,” since she lived an epic life and died July 17, 1959, of complications ...

Memory also betrays

North Coast Rep starts at the end with Pinter's Betrayal

Harold Pinter denies he based his 1978 drama on a seven-year affair he had with a married woman. And that her husband, a friend of his, had affairs all the while — and knew about ...

The Press War

Women compel men to think — that’s what Clara Foltz said.

Clara Foltz must have lived at least nine lives. A descendant of Daniel Boone, she was a wife, until her husband abandoned her and their four children. She was the first woman to practice law ...

Wide open to interpretation

Talent's not the issue with Everybody’s Talkin: The Music of Harry Nilsson at San Diego Rep

“Goin’ where the sun keeps shining/Thru the pouring rain/Goin’ where the weather suits my clothes…” To those who recall when Midnight Cowboy came out, the lyrics conjure up Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight scuffling down ...

My acting bucket list: Eddie Yaroch

The Craig Noel Award-winner shares his top choices for five categories — King to Bard, father to kidnapper

I’m asking veteran local 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 ...

Rich Girl finds little purchase at the Old Globe’s theater in the round

Contested territory

The only time it happened was at the old Old Town Theatre. I was watching a production of The Heiress, where a complete and total jerk courts rich, innocent, young Catherine. He was so obviously ...

Above the bar, below the legend

San Diego Musical Theatre's Singin' in the Rain a competent rendering of a classic

Aw come on, you mean the movie where Gene Kelly — with a glow-ree-us feelin' — kick-splashes puddles, spins that black umbrella, glides with gymnastic grace, and joy-hangs from the side of a lamp-post didn’t ...

Point of no return

The Whale devotes his last days to honesty

Lights come up, dimly, on a dingy brown old couch with a deep sag in the middle. Close by: a laptop, a TV-tray-like table with rollers, a low slung reading lamp, and a small bookcase ...

To the Nationals!

New Group West goes big for its... first show?!

I still don’t believe this story! The New Group West’s first-ever show will represent California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii in a national competition! American Association of Community Theatre has 12 regions. San Diego is in ...

The Famous Shavian “BOO!”

The audience didn't get it.

Like Socrates and Ben Franklin, it’s hard to imagine George Bernard Shaw ever being young — in part because he didn’t become a successful playwright until age 40. When Arms and the Man opened at ...

George Bernard Shaw pays a rare visit to the Old Globe

A Shavian rinse

Arms and the Man succeeds despite an antsy itch to entertain.

Early San Diegans couldn’t celebrate without lots of noise

More unexpected vignettes from San Diego's history — including the Horribles

1.) This photograph, taken in the late 1880s, was rare for its time. No male cradles a wide-brimmed hat in his arm. No one stares up, or dreamily off, as if posing as the person ...

Last Call: Unnecessary Farce at North Coast Rep

Silly and hilarious comedy must close soon

The North Coast Rep’s silly, lunkhead, hilarious Unnecessary Farce must close this Sunday. One of the oddest things about farce: it must as precise as it is frantic. Actors scream “eek,” slam doors, and sprint ...

Just a few more before retirement

Lifelong performer and Craig Noel Award-winner Melinda Gilb’s shares her acting bucket list

I’m asking veteran local 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 ...

Familiar sitcom feeling

Competence doesn't save Moxie Theatre's Lesson 443 from feeling like a repeat.

Tatiana Suarez-Pico’s new play is either a drama sabotaged by comedy, or vice versa. When the play builds to an emotional moment, a joke undercuts it. And when a scene starts out funny, things take ...

San Diego Rep explores the Uncanny Valley between you and your replicant

Will you be you?

Robots became so human-like that thoughts of playing God plagued their creators.

Right kind of mindless

The Silence of the Clams at Diversionary Theatre takes the low road, yet moments impress

Clarice Starling: “Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.” Hannibal Lecter: “I didn’t.” Clarice: “No. You ate yours.” Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs can be funny, in a ghoulish sort ...

Good, whacko, slamming-doors sense

Unnecessary Farce at North Coast Rep is pointless, silly, and delightful

The North Coast Rep’s current show is a farce! But in the good, whacko, slamming-doors sense. Paul Slade Smith’s two-act script has absolutely no redeeming social value, and he goes for silliness where most comic ...

Ion goes all-out

Hillcrest-based company plans quadruple-header to select NYC-bound work — plus BBQ

The idea could cause vertigo: on Saturday, April 25, Ion Theatre will stage-read four new plays starting at 11:00 a.m. Each script has already been work-shopped with readings and feedback from preview audiences. And it’s ...

Last call: The White Snake and My Fair Lady

The final opportunity to see these notable shows is fast approaching

Two beautifully performed shows must end their runs this Sunday. The White Snake, Old Globe Theatre. Mary Zimmerman does theatrical adaptations of literary works, among them The Odyssey, The Arabian Nights, and The Notebooks of ...

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