Quantcast
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

Rain falls on the Old Globe stage

We all want new lives

Most of what happens off stage in Maugham's "Rain," happens onstage in the musical.
Most of what happens off stage in Maugham's "Rain," happens onstage in the musical.

Tennessee Williams called Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull his “favorite of all plays.” Williams loved it so much he wrote The Notebook of Trigorin, a “free adaptation” that turned the original inside-out. Where Chekhov uses indirection and nuance, Notebook floodlights everything. Emotions clamor, drama builds and bursts. The subtle Seagull becomes Theater Writ Large: in effect, a drama by Tennessee Williams.

Rain

Sybille Pearson (book) and Michael John Lachiusa (music and lyrics) do a similar turnabout with W. Somerset Maugham’s “Rain.” Where the short story percolates slowly toward a sudden, horrific conclusion, the new, freely adapted musical tells all from the start. Where Maugham suggests, Rain externalizes and explains. And in case anyone’s missing the point, it resorts to headlines, as when Louisa MacPhail looks straight at the audience and yells “WE ALL WANT NEW LIVES.”

The musical follows the story up to a point. When a case of measles hits their schooner, the Davidson’s and Macphail’s get stuck in Pago-Pago, possibly for “a fortnight of idleness.” The only lodging’s an old house with ragged mosquito nets in the “rainiest place in the Pacific.”

The couples share only one thing in common: they do not approve when a 27-ish woman, “plump and in a coarse fashion pretty” with “fat calves” and a “hoarse voice” (in Maugham’s version) plays “vulgar” tunes on the gramophone, imbibes strong spirits, and dances with the quartermaster. Sadie Thompson looks “rather fast” to the First Class travelers. And that “sluttish knot” in her hair? She must be a prostitute. Will she ply her trade here?

Soft-spoken Dr. Alec Macphail observes from afar. But his wife Louisa and Anna Davidson raise their noses high whenever they pass the harlot. Alfred Davidson, a brimstone-breathing missionary, has a stronger reaction: she is evil. He must save her soul; therefore “She’ll be starved and tortured...I want her to accept the punishment of man as a sacrifice to God.”

Writers of short stories study “Rain” — and its likely predecessor, Guy DeMaupassant’s “Boule de Suif” (“Ball of Fat”) — in microscopic detail. Both resemble watching a tree grow from above and below ground at the same time. Subtexts spread like roots. And the last two words of “Rain” — “He understood” — imply a dimly suspected alternative.

Most of what happens off stage in Maugham happens onstage in the musical. In his bar fight, which he probably lost in the story, Alfred Davidson matches Steven Segal’s demolition creds — or would, if the Old Globe’s fight choreography were more convincing. Davidson’s a sanctimonious thug; kindly Dr. Macphail turns out to be an alcoholic with PTSD who’s driving his wife more nuts than the incessant rain.

Social class divides the women in the story. Here, gender unites them. Except for Noi Noi, who has taught Scottish husband Kiwi the difference between love and war, the other three women are trapped like concentric circles in unbalanced relationships. Doubly incarcerated in the middle, Sadie will incite changes, even as Davidson vows to reform her.

The story can almost accommodate this emphasis, but the musical’s book goes overboard elsewhere. Rain must lead the musical leagues in backstory. Almost every character sings a long, biographical monologue. Here composer Michael John LaChiusa does some remarkable things. He turns each into a mini-song-cycle, shifting keys, tones, and attack with every turn.

Musically, they are tours de force. But the lyrics drag them down. They fill in needless details (Lake Michigan was cold that day), and explain, rather than feel, emotions. Act one has four “here’s my life story and how I felt” song monologues. And a good percentage of them are about the past, which makes for a static stage.

Act two lingers so long on Davidson’s attempt to convert Sadie, it’s tempting to shout, “All right, already!” Then, after two Big Dramatic Moments, a character snuffs the tension with a long, biographical monologue, followed by yet another. The musical obviously yearns to flesh out the characters. But this flesh needs a diet. Drama dissipates in a downpour of explanations.

If it didn’t swallow actors whole, Mark Wendland’s scenic design would be a marvel: a wall-less, two-and-a-half-floor frame house, with corrugated tin roofs and a sense of steep verticality. It swivels and, in Act two, splits and becomes a “house divided” for symbol-hunters. Russell H. Champs’s Expressionistic lighting relies on stark reds, blues, and burnt oranges when there’s already more than enough melodrama to go around, what with a rain effect misting overhead and drums throbbing in the background like a sore tooth.

Except for Sadie’s, which are too posh for Western Samoa and Iwelei, Honolulu’s red light district, Katherine Roth’s costumes have an appropriate, 1924 look.

The musical divides obsessed/repressed males from held-back females, and favors the latter. Performances have a different slant: everyone in the cast can sing, but the overall the acting’s as rigid as the dialogue.

Rain

Book by Sybille Pearson; music and lyrics, Michael John LaChiusa; based on the short story by W. Somerset Maugham

Place

Old Globe Theatre

1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego

Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, Old Globe Theatre

Directed by Barry Edelstein: cast: Eden Espinosa, Jared Zirilli, Elizabeth A. Davis, Betsy Morgan, Tally Sessions, Marie-France Arcilla, Jeremy Davis, Mike Sears, Rusty Ross; scenic design, Mark Wendland; costumes, Katherine Roth; lighting, Russell H. Champa; sound, Ken Travis; musical director, J. Oconer Navarro; movement, Patrick McCollum

Playing through May 1; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The Golf Bar: Bratwurst and ball whacking

“This is the first golf bar in San Diego.”
Next Article

The Golf Bar: Bratwurst and ball whacking

“This is the first golf bar in San Diego.”
Most of what happens off stage in Maugham's "Rain," happens onstage in the musical.
Most of what happens off stage in Maugham's "Rain," happens onstage in the musical.

Tennessee Williams called Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull his “favorite of all plays.” Williams loved it so much he wrote The Notebook of Trigorin, a “free adaptation” that turned the original inside-out. Where Chekhov uses indirection and nuance, Notebook floodlights everything. Emotions clamor, drama builds and bursts. The subtle Seagull becomes Theater Writ Large: in effect, a drama by Tennessee Williams.

Rain

Sybille Pearson (book) and Michael John Lachiusa (music and lyrics) do a similar turnabout with W. Somerset Maugham’s “Rain.” Where the short story percolates slowly toward a sudden, horrific conclusion, the new, freely adapted musical tells all from the start. Where Maugham suggests, Rain externalizes and explains. And in case anyone’s missing the point, it resorts to headlines, as when Louisa MacPhail looks straight at the audience and yells “WE ALL WANT NEW LIVES.”

The musical follows the story up to a point. When a case of measles hits their schooner, the Davidson’s and Macphail’s get stuck in Pago-Pago, possibly for “a fortnight of idleness.” The only lodging’s an old house with ragged mosquito nets in the “rainiest place in the Pacific.”

The couples share only one thing in common: they do not approve when a 27-ish woman, “plump and in a coarse fashion pretty” with “fat calves” and a “hoarse voice” (in Maugham’s version) plays “vulgar” tunes on the gramophone, imbibes strong spirits, and dances with the quartermaster. Sadie Thompson looks “rather fast” to the First Class travelers. And that “sluttish knot” in her hair? She must be a prostitute. Will she ply her trade here?

Soft-spoken Dr. Alec Macphail observes from afar. But his wife Louisa and Anna Davidson raise their noses high whenever they pass the harlot. Alfred Davidson, a brimstone-breathing missionary, has a stronger reaction: she is evil. He must save her soul; therefore “She’ll be starved and tortured...I want her to accept the punishment of man as a sacrifice to God.”

Writers of short stories study “Rain” — and its likely predecessor, Guy DeMaupassant’s “Boule de Suif” (“Ball of Fat”) — in microscopic detail. Both resemble watching a tree grow from above and below ground at the same time. Subtexts spread like roots. And the last two words of “Rain” — “He understood” — imply a dimly suspected alternative.

Most of what happens off stage in Maugham happens onstage in the musical. In his bar fight, which he probably lost in the story, Alfred Davidson matches Steven Segal’s demolition creds — or would, if the Old Globe’s fight choreography were more convincing. Davidson’s a sanctimonious thug; kindly Dr. Macphail turns out to be an alcoholic with PTSD who’s driving his wife more nuts than the incessant rain.

Social class divides the women in the story. Here, gender unites them. Except for Noi Noi, who has taught Scottish husband Kiwi the difference between love and war, the other three women are trapped like concentric circles in unbalanced relationships. Doubly incarcerated in the middle, Sadie will incite changes, even as Davidson vows to reform her.

The story can almost accommodate this emphasis, but the musical’s book goes overboard elsewhere. Rain must lead the musical leagues in backstory. Almost every character sings a long, biographical monologue. Here composer Michael John LaChiusa does some remarkable things. He turns each into a mini-song-cycle, shifting keys, tones, and attack with every turn.

Musically, they are tours de force. But the lyrics drag them down. They fill in needless details (Lake Michigan was cold that day), and explain, rather than feel, emotions. Act one has four “here’s my life story and how I felt” song monologues. And a good percentage of them are about the past, which makes for a static stage.

Act two lingers so long on Davidson’s attempt to convert Sadie, it’s tempting to shout, “All right, already!” Then, after two Big Dramatic Moments, a character snuffs the tension with a long, biographical monologue, followed by yet another. The musical obviously yearns to flesh out the characters. But this flesh needs a diet. Drama dissipates in a downpour of explanations.

If it didn’t swallow actors whole, Mark Wendland’s scenic design would be a marvel: a wall-less, two-and-a-half-floor frame house, with corrugated tin roofs and a sense of steep verticality. It swivels and, in Act two, splits and becomes a “house divided” for symbol-hunters. Russell H. Champs’s Expressionistic lighting relies on stark reds, blues, and burnt oranges when there’s already more than enough melodrama to go around, what with a rain effect misting overhead and drums throbbing in the background like a sore tooth.

Except for Sadie’s, which are too posh for Western Samoa and Iwelei, Honolulu’s red light district, Katherine Roth’s costumes have an appropriate, 1924 look.

The musical divides obsessed/repressed males from held-back females, and favors the latter. Performances have a different slant: everyone in the cast can sing, but the overall the acting’s as rigid as the dialogue.

Rain

Book by Sybille Pearson; music and lyrics, Michael John LaChiusa; based on the short story by W. Somerset Maugham

Place

Old Globe Theatre

1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego

Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, Old Globe Theatre

Directed by Barry Edelstein: cast: Eden Espinosa, Jared Zirilli, Elizabeth A. Davis, Betsy Morgan, Tally Sessions, Marie-France Arcilla, Jeremy Davis, Mike Sears, Rusty Ross; scenic design, Mark Wendland; costumes, Katherine Roth; lighting, Russell H. Champa; sound, Ken Travis; musical director, J. Oconer Navarro; movement, Patrick McCollum

Playing through May 1; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

La Jolla Tide Pools meets Craftsman-style renovation

In its early days, the Kline House operated as La Jolla Sanatorium
Next Article

The Golf Bar: Bratwurst and ball whacking

“This is the first golf bar in San Diego.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close