That ol’ clock on the wall again. Two quality shows must conclude their runs this Sunday, February 21.
Outside Mullingar, at San Diego Repertory Theatre. John Patrick Shanley is famous for tough, thought-provokers like Doubt: A Parable, which won a Pulitzer Prize, and Dirty Story (a fierce allegory about the relationship between Israel and Palestine; yet to be staged in San Diego, BTW).
Shanley also has a romantic side, albeit a tad tainted. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck (Academy Award), and his Outside Mullingar turns bickering neighbors, in Irish countryside farms, into a potential love connection. And they’ll come a long way to get there.
Anthony and Rosemary are monoliths, layered with encrustations. He labors on his father’s farm thanklessly, apparently with no future, and not much of a past, either. If it weren’t for a few stray visions, he’d have no life at all.
Rosemary’s seven years younger. Though she’s had gentlemen callers, she never married. Why? And why does she hate Anthony with such unequivocal passion? Because he threw her down when she was six?
Come on! And carry that grudge for 30 years? Could be, since Rosemary’s family owns a strip of land that blocks Anthony’s from the frontage road. Every time they head out, they must open and close two gates. Something must have happened back there to ignite so much ire. Or did it?
Ragtime, at San Diego Musical Theatre. Some say if you know a critic likes a musical, then stage it. But what if the critic really loves that musical? Even hums its songs on the way home from another one? Mess with the critic’s conception, and what might seem a weak choice, or somehow vaguely wrong…could threaten civilization as we know it.
And what if that musical is Ragtime (book, Terrence McNally, lyrics, Lynn Ahrens, music, Stephen Flaherty) based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel about three groups of immigrants in the early 20th Century.
Like the genre popular around the turn of the 20th Century, Ragtime has a syncopated, “piano thumping” form and pace quite tricky to stage. Our guest reviewer Jon Reimer is a huge fan of the show. He’s seen several versions and says San Diego Musical Theatre’s “is as good as Ragtime can be.” He credits director/choreographer Paul David Bryant’s experience. Bryant was the original Swing in the original Broadway production, and has directed it seven times. “This long history shows in the SDMT production. All elements balance so well.”