The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Millinery and haberdashery are not often topics of the dramatic arts. But when headwear is bundled-up in the subjects of love, loyalty, and addiction, theatrical stakes can be substantially raised, if not particularly elevated. Such is the case with Stephen Adley Guirgis'’ audaciously titled 2011 play, The Motherf..ker with the Hat.
Hansel and Gretel
First published as a fairytale in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel is a story taken from German folklore. And in spite of the two cherubic youngsters, for whom the story is named, and regardless of cottages built of gingerbread and cakes, the tale is – like so many other children’s narratives of the day – not only a parable first recorded by the Brothers Grimm; it is also a quite grim parable.
The Ultimate Christmas Show
So you think the holidays have become too serious? What with multiple rituals—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Saturnalia, just to name the more familiar— frantic gift shopping, politically correct carols, and ballets about nutcrackers, this time of year can be downright stressful. Fortunately, there’s an ap for that! (“Ap” as in happy, snappy, and rappy.)
Give it up for San Diego Repertory Theatre’s first holiday play in seven years, Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Ultimate Christmas Show, a delightfully amusing little piece of angel hair fluff that has audiences giggling, chortling, even downright guffawing at our seasonal traditions.
Henry Prego Sings Sinatra: Live From the Sands
Call him Ol’ Blue eyes; or The Voice; or Chairman of the Board. However you identify him, Frank Sinatra was America’s crooner incarnate. From his resonate, uniquely recognizable baritone to his innate interpretive abilities (both as a vocalist and as an Academy Award-winning actor), Sinatra was a singular 20th century sensation.
Now, Southern California audiences have an opportunity not to see Sinatra live (after all, he died in 1998), but to see a remarkable recreation of this master’s musical prowess in the corporeal form of Sinatra, doppelganger extraordinaire, Henry Prego (at the Encore Dinner Theatre and Club in Tustin, through December 2).
Room 105: The Highs and Lows of Janis Joplin
Some called her “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul.” Many proclaimed her as “The Queen of Rock and Roll.” Those closest to her knew her as Pearl. However you refer to her, Janis Joplin was a pop phenomenon of legendary proportions.
Not only was Joplin a one-of-a-kind vocalist, she was a painter, a dancer, and a music arranger. Rolling Stone magazine put Joplin at 46 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; she was rated 28 on that publication’s 2008 roster of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Medieval Times: Dinner and Tournament
Historians partition the medieval period into categories such as the “Six Ages” or the “Four Empires.” The medieval epoch – also known as the Middle Ages – is generally thought to have lasted from 476 to 1500 A.D.
Jousting is a martial competition wherein two horseman, armed with lances, gallop toward one another at increasing speed; it was a tournament event of the High Middle Ages (1000-1300A.D.), used to demonstrate the skills of cavalrymen. The object of the action is to clobber or stab the opponent, breaking the lance against his shield or armor, and unhorsing him.
Anything Goes, now in production at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre, through January 6, has music and lyrics by the great Cole Porter. The musical’s initial book is by Guy Bolton and P.G. Woodhouse. Later, due to a real-life, headline grabbing, shipwreck – in which 134 people died – the nautically themed script, which happened to have a sinking vessel as part of its buoyant plot, was tastefully revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.
In its 1934 Broadway debut, the show offered such memorable compositions as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and, of course, the title tune, "Anything Goes". (Porter, who composed the scores for arguably the more famous stagings of Kiss Me Kate and Can Can, nevertheless named his two house cats Anything and Goes – not Kate and Can Can.)
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?”
Except for the heroine’s exact age and the musical references, these first lines from the 1970 film, Love Story, could introduce Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere, extravagant, multi-media, alternative rock opera stage production.
A Hammer, A Bell, and a Song to Sing
Quick! Name your favorite folk musician! Is it Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie? Now, name your favorite social justice song! Is it "Blowin’ in the Wind?" "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier?" "We Shall Overcome?" "The Times, They Are a’Changin’?" "Big Yellow Taxi?"" De Colores?" "This Land is Your Land?"" Baa, Baa, Black Sheep?"
Whatever you picked from that hasty inventory, and more, is included in the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s engaging musical review, A Hammer, a Bell, and a Song to Sing. (If you are wondering how that nursery rhyme made the list, it originated as a tax protest ditty in 13th Century England.) There are historical nods to LBJ, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, the Occupy Movement and even Plato, as the singers offer a low-key, non-chronological bit of history to go with the nostalgia. Victoria Petrovich’s artful photographic projections set the mood and showcase the times.
Since the celebrated television series M*A*S*H ended its 13-year run in 1983, rarely, if ever, has the Korean War been the focus of a script – not for TV, in film or on stage. It’s little wonder that that mid-century Asian conflict is referred to as either The Unknown War or The Forgotten War. Seldom is the Korean War celebrated; infrequently is it commemorated, even though the death toll from that calamitous clash is estimated to be at more than 1,500,000.