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

Theater year in review: performance

Curtain call of 2016's favorite performers

La Moana's 1918 arrived at Fringe Festival with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits.
La Moana's 1918 arrived at Fringe Festival with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits.

For San Diego Theater in 2016, I wish everyone could have seen the following:

1918 at the Fringe Festival. La Moana, a dance troupe from New Zealand, arrived with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits. 1918 recalled the flu pandemic that hit the Samoan Islands with no warning.

Dancers began the show, moving with feather-light joy as they lived daily routines on the islands. Suddenly fevers and strange chills sprouted, and the dead began to pile up. Along with watching an unthinkable tragedy, members of the audience sensed another palpable loss: would the dancers’ vitality cease as well? Not so. In the end, they returned all in blue and doubled their intensity with ferocious elation.

I wish everyone could have seen Melissa Fernandes in Ion’s Sunday in the Park with George. She played Dot, Georges Seurat’s mistress and model in Act One, and Marie, Dot’s now ancient daughter in 1984. Throughout, Fernandes had the kind of aura you see when a performer’s in a dream role.

She also understudied for Cygnet’s Gypsy and filled in as Mama Rose. I saw her late in the run. She was wonderful again. I also saw two other things. One: how shows can grow. Cygnet’s opening night was fine but now had exceptional polish. Once again I wished that critics could skip opening nights, which can be so hit-and-miss. They’d go, say, two weeks into the run, when the show has settled in, for good or ill. They’d have a clearer sense of its quality.

I know, I know, box office trumps quality. (Zounds! I swore I’d never use the invidious T-word again!)

Second, I got to re-see Allison Spratt Pearce turn young Rose, the bland ugly duckling, into brash, stylish Gypsy Rose Lee, headliner on the Burlesque circuit. An extraordinary transformation!

Cashae Monya led a terrific ensemble (directed by Jennifer Eve Thorn) as Alphonsine in Moxie’s Our Lady of Kibeho. Amid civil strife in Rwanda, the young novice has a miraculous vision of “the Mother of the Word” and pays for it with continual torment. Monya snapped into instant ecstasies and played Alphonsine with undeniable belief.

Way Downriver turned William Faulkner’s novella, “Old Man,” inside out. In the original, women terrify the convict so much he prefers the meanest penitentiary in America. Richard Baird was outstanding as a semi-skilled man trapped on a raft during the great Mississippi flood of 1927. With voice, gesture, and profound commitment, Baird re-created the deluge on the North Coast Rep stage.

I wish you could have seen Francis Gercke’s spare, deeply moving John Merrick in Backyard Renaissance’s The Elephant Man. Unlike other versions of the role, Gercke never once played for sympathy. Instead he went way inside the deformed Victorian and invited us in.

Also Ro Boddie’s efforts for Cygnet’s Stupid Fking Bird, Seven Guitars, and King Hedley II. He carried Bird on his back and showed versatility as the tragic Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton in Guitars and Mister in Hedley.

And I wish you could have seen Intrepid’s splendid Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Robert and Deborah Gilmour Smyth, real-life husband and wife, reversed the standard emphasis on Edward Albee’s George and Martha. Most productions give Martha a star turn with free reign to slosh and blabber. But a closer reading of the text shows that George, like a standoffish master of ceremonies, is in charge. And through his patient, tough-love efforts he crafts a sense of order from Walpurgis Night chaos.

Another tandem: Jorge Rodriguez and Jennifer Paredes caught in a maelstrom of civil war and miracles in InnerMissions’ Seven Spots on the Sun. With a kind of broken strength, Rodriguez played a village doctor who suffered so much he swore off medicine. Paredes — tops in Ion’s Lydia and the Rep’s hilarious Manifest Destinitus — played the mother of a cursed child whose only hope was the former M.D. and would not take no for an answer.

I hope people got to see Ion’s The Normal Heart. Led by Claudio Raygoza’s excellent Ned Weeks, part crusader, part obnoxious jerk, and strong support from Kim Strassberger, Daren Scott, and Alexander Guzman, Heart was the daring, urgent, up-to-the-second theater San Diego sees too little of. As was the San Diego Rep’s Disgraced, with a scalpel-like dissection of our times.

The ensemble work for Disgraced was excellent. But don’t forget the Rep’s Manifest Destinitus, Cygnet’s repertory company for two August Wilson plays, Moxie’s Our Lady of Kibeho (especially the teenaged girls’ remarkable portrayals), and La Jolla Playhouse’s Junk: The Golden Age of Debt, where a huge cast performed Ayad Akhtar’s world premiere with such precision you’d think they were reviving a familiar classic.

I wish you could have seen them all.

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

Previous article

Padres vs Il Padre

It’s hard to keep the faith when you’re losing your religion
Next Article

Ben Wanicur brings DIY ethic to Robb Field

“It was great to be able to have some fun and have a communal type experience playing music in the sun.”
La Moana's 1918 arrived at Fringe Festival with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits.
La Moana's 1918 arrived at Fringe Festival with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits.

For San Diego Theater in 2016, I wish everyone could have seen the following:

1918 at the Fringe Festival. La Moana, a dance troupe from New Zealand, arrived with no fanfare and blew audiences to bits. 1918 recalled the flu pandemic that hit the Samoan Islands with no warning.

Dancers began the show, moving with feather-light joy as they lived daily routines on the islands. Suddenly fevers and strange chills sprouted, and the dead began to pile up. Along with watching an unthinkable tragedy, members of the audience sensed another palpable loss: would the dancers’ vitality cease as well? Not so. In the end, they returned all in blue and doubled their intensity with ferocious elation.

I wish everyone could have seen Melissa Fernandes in Ion’s Sunday in the Park with George. She played Dot, Georges Seurat’s mistress and model in Act One, and Marie, Dot’s now ancient daughter in 1984. Throughout, Fernandes had the kind of aura you see when a performer’s in a dream role.

She also understudied for Cygnet’s Gypsy and filled in as Mama Rose. I saw her late in the run. She was wonderful again. I also saw two other things. One: how shows can grow. Cygnet’s opening night was fine but now had exceptional polish. Once again I wished that critics could skip opening nights, which can be so hit-and-miss. They’d go, say, two weeks into the run, when the show has settled in, for good or ill. They’d have a clearer sense of its quality.

I know, I know, box office trumps quality. (Zounds! I swore I’d never use the invidious T-word again!)

Second, I got to re-see Allison Spratt Pearce turn young Rose, the bland ugly duckling, into brash, stylish Gypsy Rose Lee, headliner on the Burlesque circuit. An extraordinary transformation!

Cashae Monya led a terrific ensemble (directed by Jennifer Eve Thorn) as Alphonsine in Moxie’s Our Lady of Kibeho. Amid civil strife in Rwanda, the young novice has a miraculous vision of “the Mother of the Word” and pays for it with continual torment. Monya snapped into instant ecstasies and played Alphonsine with undeniable belief.

Way Downriver turned William Faulkner’s novella, “Old Man,” inside out. In the original, women terrify the convict so much he prefers the meanest penitentiary in America. Richard Baird was outstanding as a semi-skilled man trapped on a raft during the great Mississippi flood of 1927. With voice, gesture, and profound commitment, Baird re-created the deluge on the North Coast Rep stage.

I wish you could have seen Francis Gercke’s spare, deeply moving John Merrick in Backyard Renaissance’s The Elephant Man. Unlike other versions of the role, Gercke never once played for sympathy. Instead he went way inside the deformed Victorian and invited us in.

Also Ro Boddie’s efforts for Cygnet’s Stupid Fking Bird, Seven Guitars, and King Hedley II. He carried Bird on his back and showed versatility as the tragic Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton in Guitars and Mister in Hedley.

And I wish you could have seen Intrepid’s splendid Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Robert and Deborah Gilmour Smyth, real-life husband and wife, reversed the standard emphasis on Edward Albee’s George and Martha. Most productions give Martha a star turn with free reign to slosh and blabber. But a closer reading of the text shows that George, like a standoffish master of ceremonies, is in charge. And through his patient, tough-love efforts he crafts a sense of order from Walpurgis Night chaos.

Another tandem: Jorge Rodriguez and Jennifer Paredes caught in a maelstrom of civil war and miracles in InnerMissions’ Seven Spots on the Sun. With a kind of broken strength, Rodriguez played a village doctor who suffered so much he swore off medicine. Paredes — tops in Ion’s Lydia and the Rep’s hilarious Manifest Destinitus — played the mother of a cursed child whose only hope was the former M.D. and would not take no for an answer.

I hope people got to see Ion’s The Normal Heart. Led by Claudio Raygoza’s excellent Ned Weeks, part crusader, part obnoxious jerk, and strong support from Kim Strassberger, Daren Scott, and Alexander Guzman, Heart was the daring, urgent, up-to-the-second theater San Diego sees too little of. As was the San Diego Rep’s Disgraced, with a scalpel-like dissection of our times.

The ensemble work for Disgraced was excellent. But don’t forget the Rep’s Manifest Destinitus, Cygnet’s repertory company for two August Wilson plays, Moxie’s Our Lady of Kibeho (especially the teenaged girls’ remarkable portrayals), and La Jolla Playhouse’s Junk: The Golden Age of Debt, where a huge cast performed Ayad Akhtar’s world premiere with such precision you’d think they were reviving a familiar classic.

I wish you could have seen them all.

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

Cavalier Mobile Home owners vs. the rest of the neighborhood

Barbara Villasenor convinced to re-erect fire lane gate
Next Article

Notice the difference in Zgara gyros

Bay Park counter shop deviates from processed Americana
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