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Last Call: Black Sunday

Some fine productions, including one of the city's all-time best, must close November 2.

These shows must close this Sunday, November 2 — aka “Black Sunday,” given their high quality.

The Royale

The Royale, Old Globe Theatre

One of the year’s best directed shows is so well done you’d think Marco Ramirez wrote it specifically for the Old Globe’s in-the-round, White Theatre. Jay “The Sport” Johnson, modeled after the legendary African-American boxer Jack Johnson, battles opponents, a racist society, and demons within. They all appear in a finale at once strikingly original and deeply moving. Director Rachel Chavkin has turned a slender script into a ritualized conjuration of an era we should not forget. The fully-committed cast claps, stomps the floor, shouts “ha,” and pounds a pulse-like rhythm throughout the intermissionless one-act. And thanks to excellent lighting and sound effects, the various fights take place as much in your mind as on the stage. Robert Christopher Riley slowly unpeels Johnson’s epic mask, and the amazing Montego Glover, as his sister Nina, shadows him like a second self he cannot shake.

She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D!!

She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D!! at Diversionary.

She-Rantulas From Outer Space, Diversionary Theatre

Phil Johnson and Ruff Yeager have revised their “fartire” (a combination, they say, of farce and satire) of B-horror movies of the Fifties. The changes have improved the already funny shenanigans at Tarrytown, USA, in 1957, where people are disappearing with haunting alacrity and Betty’s daughter Suzie (Tony Houck) is growing what? – coffee brown, spikey Tarantula legs?- and scheming on all who come their way. And all the while Betty (Phil Johnson) tries to maintain the squeaky clean veneer of a traditional Fifties housewife (aka the pristine ancestors of the Stepford Wives). Fred Harlow, Andy Collins, and Melinda Gilb all contribute in multiple roles, and make costume – and wig – changes in a flash.

True West

Fool for Love

True West and Fool for Love, Cygnet Theatre

Written three years apart (1980 and 1983), Sam Shepard’s two plays are like sides of the same coin (and, he wrote, about being “two-sided”). True West begins as “naturalistic,” then devolves, as do the identities of Austin and Lee. The brothers begin as opposites, apparently. As their rivalry escalates, each snake-dances into the other’s psyche. Fool for Love is, and is not, set in a motel at the edge of the Mojave. Much of it happens in the minds of Eddie and May and their father’s ghost, sitting in a corner sipping whiskey. As in The Royale, it also takes place in yours, as notions of what is real collide with phantoms and demons in some ways even more real. The titles suggest a collective comment on the plays. What is “true” and who, if there is one, is the “fool”? Or, maybe more to the point, who isn’t?

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, Lamb’s Players

One of the finest all-locally produced, staged, and performed shows in San Diego theater history. It’s been extended several times and there’ve been some cast changes (Randall Dodge, who had to leave, is back as Javert) but from all I’ve heard, it’s grown and grown. It must close this Sunday. Were this the best of all possible theater towns, Lamb’s smash hit could probably run for years.

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These shows must close this Sunday, November 2 — aka “Black Sunday,” given their high quality.

The Royale

The Royale, Old Globe Theatre

One of the year’s best directed shows is so well done you’d think Marco Ramirez wrote it specifically for the Old Globe’s in-the-round, White Theatre. Jay “The Sport” Johnson, modeled after the legendary African-American boxer Jack Johnson, battles opponents, a racist society, and demons within. They all appear in a finale at once strikingly original and deeply moving. Director Rachel Chavkin has turned a slender script into a ritualized conjuration of an era we should not forget. The fully-committed cast claps, stomps the floor, shouts “ha,” and pounds a pulse-like rhythm throughout the intermissionless one-act. And thanks to excellent lighting and sound effects, the various fights take place as much in your mind as on the stage. Robert Christopher Riley slowly unpeels Johnson’s epic mask, and the amazing Montego Glover, as his sister Nina, shadows him like a second self he cannot shake.

She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D!!

She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D!! at Diversionary.

She-Rantulas From Outer Space, Diversionary Theatre

Phil Johnson and Ruff Yeager have revised their “fartire” (a combination, they say, of farce and satire) of B-horror movies of the Fifties. The changes have improved the already funny shenanigans at Tarrytown, USA, in 1957, where people are disappearing with haunting alacrity and Betty’s daughter Suzie (Tony Houck) is growing what? – coffee brown, spikey Tarantula legs?- and scheming on all who come their way. And all the while Betty (Phil Johnson) tries to maintain the squeaky clean veneer of a traditional Fifties housewife (aka the pristine ancestors of the Stepford Wives). Fred Harlow, Andy Collins, and Melinda Gilb all contribute in multiple roles, and make costume – and wig – changes in a flash.

True West

Fool for Love

True West and Fool for Love, Cygnet Theatre

Written three years apart (1980 and 1983), Sam Shepard’s two plays are like sides of the same coin (and, he wrote, about being “two-sided”). True West begins as “naturalistic,” then devolves, as do the identities of Austin and Lee. The brothers begin as opposites, apparently. As their rivalry escalates, each snake-dances into the other’s psyche. Fool for Love is, and is not, set in a motel at the edge of the Mojave. Much of it happens in the minds of Eddie and May and their father’s ghost, sitting in a corner sipping whiskey. As in The Royale, it also takes place in yours, as notions of what is real collide with phantoms and demons in some ways even more real. The titles suggest a collective comment on the plays. What is “true” and who, if there is one, is the “fool”? Or, maybe more to the point, who isn’t?

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, Lamb’s Players

One of the finest all-locally produced, staged, and performed shows in San Diego theater history. It’s been extended several times and there’ve been some cast changes (Randall Dodge, who had to leave, is back as Javert) but from all I’ve heard, it’s grown and grown. It must close this Sunday. Were this the best of all possible theater towns, Lamb’s smash hit could probably run for years.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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