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Last Call: Four noteworthy musicals must close

Go see Jesus, Fats, Sylvia, and/or Buddy soon

Yvonne, Tony Perry, Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher Jones, and Anise Ritchie in Ain't Misbehavin'
Yvonne, Tony Perry, Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher Jones, and Anise Ritchie in Ain't Misbehavin'

Musicals hath charms to soothe the most savage of beasts. Four must close this weekend.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

One of the tightest, most balanced shows I’ve seen at the Welk in some time. Ray Limon’s expert direction and choreography, and Justin Gray’s four-piece band that “seems like 30,” make this an ensemble show where all cast members sing, act, and dance with precision and flair. They perform with a certainty that Jesus, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, lacks. He’s become “bigger than John was when John did that baptism thing.” Is he now such a big hit — a veritable superstar? — that his message is getting lost (“it was beautiful but now it’s sour”)? Tim Rice’s allegedly irreverent lyrics also include room, especially at the end, for reverence as well.

Playing through Sunday, August 7


Ain’t Misbehavin’

Ain't Misbehavin'

Bad news and good. This struttin’ and stylin’ musical tribute to the great Fats Waller must close this Sunday. But it will be reprised, intact, at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, for five performances starting Thursday, August 11. A suggestion: the Center for the Arts is a large venue. The North Coast Rep’s version benefits from their intimate space. Thanks to Marty Burnett’s abstract, club-like set and pianist Kevin Toney’s Walleresque, “stride piano” licks, watching the triple-threat performers — Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher James, Anise Ritchie, Tony Perry, and Yvonne (her stage name, and one to remember) — at North Coast is like being at the Cotton Club or Connie’s Inn during the Harlem Renaissance.

Playing through Sunday, August 14


Ruthless: The Musical

Ruthless! The Musical

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $20 - $32

Top-quality performances save Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s uneven, though often funny spoof of Broadway musicals and horror movies. David McBean’s portrayal of the mysterious (albeit slinky) Sylvia St. Croix is a slinky (albeit mysterious) keeper. She tries to influence — nay, control! — Tina and Judy Denmark, like a stage mother from Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the aptly named Ruthless skewers all things theatrical, even theater critics.

Playing through Sunday, August 7


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Many call Ain’t Misbehavin’ THE musical revue. When it comes to jukebox musicals, the tribute to one of rock ‘n roll’s true geniuses must rank way up there. OnStage’s production must close this Saturday. Reviews and blazing word-of-mouth gone viral make it a must-see.

Playing through Saturday, August 6

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Yvonne, Tony Perry, Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher Jones, and Anise Ritchie in Ain't Misbehavin'
Yvonne, Tony Perry, Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher Jones, and Anise Ritchie in Ain't Misbehavin'

Musicals hath charms to soothe the most savage of beasts. Four must close this weekend.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

One of the tightest, most balanced shows I’ve seen at the Welk in some time. Ray Limon’s expert direction and choreography, and Justin Gray’s four-piece band that “seems like 30,” make this an ensemble show where all cast members sing, act, and dance with precision and flair. They perform with a certainty that Jesus, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, lacks. He’s become “bigger than John was when John did that baptism thing.” Is he now such a big hit — a veritable superstar? — that his message is getting lost (“it was beautiful but now it’s sour”)? Tim Rice’s allegedly irreverent lyrics also include room, especially at the end, for reverence as well.

Playing through Sunday, August 7


Ain’t Misbehavin’

Ain't Misbehavin'

Bad news and good. This struttin’ and stylin’ musical tribute to the great Fats Waller must close this Sunday. But it will be reprised, intact, at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, for five performances starting Thursday, August 11. A suggestion: the Center for the Arts is a large venue. The North Coast Rep’s version benefits from their intimate space. Thanks to Marty Burnett’s abstract, club-like set and pianist Kevin Toney’s Walleresque, “stride piano” licks, watching the triple-threat performers — Cynthia Thomas, Ron Christopher James, Anise Ritchie, Tony Perry, and Yvonne (her stage name, and one to remember) — at North Coast is like being at the Cotton Club or Connie’s Inn during the Harlem Renaissance.

Playing through Sunday, August 14


Ruthless: The Musical

Ruthless! The Musical

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $20 - $32

Top-quality performances save Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s uneven, though often funny spoof of Broadway musicals and horror movies. David McBean’s portrayal of the mysterious (albeit slinky) Sylvia St. Croix is a slinky (albeit mysterious) keeper. She tries to influence — nay, control! — Tina and Judy Denmark, like a stage mother from Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the aptly named Ruthless skewers all things theatrical, even theater critics.

Playing through Sunday, August 7


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Many call Ain’t Misbehavin’ THE musical revue. When it comes to jukebox musicals, the tribute to one of rock ‘n roll’s true geniuses must rank way up there. OnStage’s production must close this Saturday. Reviews and blazing word-of-mouth gone viral make it a must-see.

Playing through Saturday, August 6

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