Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith is the senior writer at the Reader; he began reviewing theater in 1980. He also writes a local history column. He has a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from the University of California, Irvine, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare. He was the original writing director of two University of California freshman composition programs: the Humanities Core Course, at Irvine, and the Revelle Humanities/Writing Program at UCSD. Over the years, Jeff has dramaturged dozens of shows. Favorites include Sam Shepard’s Tooth of Crime, Peter Barnes’s Red Noses (both at the San Diego Rep), Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (North Coast Rep), Things May Disimprove: Samuel Becket One-Acts (L&L Productions), and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (New Village Arts).

Articles by Jeff Smith

At the Old Place makes Chekhov seem operatic

La Jolla Playhouse's string of premieres

The La Jolla Playhouse is doing whole seasons with only world premieres. From musicals (artistic director Christopher Ashley won a Tony Award for his direction of the Playhouse’s Come From Away) to drama (Rebecca Taichman ...

Guys and Dolls — high-brow and low-brow

Old Globe takes over from colleges and high schools

Frank Loesser (1910–1969) grew up in such a refined household, he had to rebel. His family spoke elegant sentences, and his older brother was a classical pianist. So Loesser chose the wilder side. He cultivated ...

Breath of kings

No gaudy excesses or cartooned foppery in this King Richard

"Not all the water in the rough rude sea/ Can wash the balm from an anointed king./ The breath of worldly men cannot depose/ The deputy elected by the Lord.” Richard of Bordeaux became King ...

Songs appear like far-off islands in Escape to Margaritaville

Rachel slams the same door on Tully that he’s been slamming on his conquests.

Times change. When Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” came out in 1977, the singer couldn’t find his salt shaker for said beverage. One might have thought, Poor dude, it won’t be the same. Today, the health-conscious would ...

Opposing views of American history, from Jim Crow to the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights

The Delaney Sisters don’t like to be called “African-Americans.”

New Village Arts’ Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years is one of that company’s best shows in its 16 seasons. Sarah L. “Sadie” and Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany don’t like to be called ...

PigPen’s doozy about the end of the world

Chaos or wife?

The Old Globe’s multileveled set for The Old Man and the Old Moon — pilings, planks, and wooden boxes — suggests an ancient wharf. Downstage footlights and roughhewn boards say a 19th-century theater. As the ...

Silent Sky: Henrietta Leavitt goes beyond the Milky Way

Harvard Observatory at Lamb's Players

Sean Fanning has done it again. The Designer of the Year for 2016 converted Lamb’s Players’ stage into the Harvard Observatory. Laura Gunderson’s Silent Sky begins early in the 20th Century. Harvard has the state-of-the-art ...

Into the Beautiful North has a little Oz

Stop the bandits

If Tres Camarones (“three shrimp”) actually existed, the small fishing village would be about 35 miles south of Mazatlan on the Gulf of California. According to Into the Beautiful North — Karen Zacharias’s new play ...

Hounded by thugs

Old Globe’s Red Velvet has one strong scene

Lolita Chakrabarti wrote a mediocre play about an important subject. The Old Globe Theatre’s puzzling, under-rehearsed opening night was no help. There are great reasons why our Calvin Manson named his company the Ira Aldridge ...

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