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Theater and Dance

16 Mar 2020
Ron Celona looked weary as patrons entered the CVRep Playhouse in Cathedral City for the Saturday, March 14, matinee performance of The City of Conversation. This was supposed to be a bustling, packed weekend of theater in the Coachella Valley. At least four theaters were opening new productions, while two more companies continued successful shows. But as of that Saturday afternoon, The City of Conversation was the only show still open. Before we entered the theater—not even one-third full—Celona confided that after the Sunday show, CVRep, too, would be going dark. Barring a miracle, we were watching the last play to be performed in the Coachella Valley by our fantastic theater companies in quite some time. The production of The City of Conversation was a fantastic. Thanks to a great cast, led by Martha Hackett as old-school liberal activist/socialite Hester Ferris, the play showed how political differences can rip a…
12 Mar 2020
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To the characters in The Boys in the Band, someone like Pete Buttigieg would have been inconceivable—a happily out (and married) man who was a serious candidate for the U.S. presidency. When Boys premiered in 1968—one year before the Stonewall riots—a same-sex couple still could be arrested for dancing together, even in a place as purportedly free-thinking as New York City’s Greenwich Village. “Younger actors have to be very, very mindful that they’re not aware of the level of repression of these characters,” says Michael Pacas, who is directing the production of the play that will open at Palm Canyon Theatre for four shows on April 30. “Back then, you could be arrested for just being in a gay bar, have your name in the paper and be fired. Younger actors enjoy a much more permissive society.” Boys, the story of a group of gay friends who have gathered at…
08 Mar 2020
Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing was first performed in London back in 1993, when revealing one’s homosexuality was much scarier, but the play’s themes of forbidden love and the struggle for self-acceptance seem just as germane today—and Desert Rose Playhouse’s current production of the play is thought-provoking and effective. The story centers around 16-year-old Jamie and his neighbor Ste, also 16, who reside in a row of flats in Thamesmead, a working-class area of South London. Jamie lives with his brassy bartender mother, Sandra, and her current boyfriend, Tony, an artist several years her junior. Ste’s family is quite dysfunctional—his brother is a drug addict, and his angry, alcoholic father is physically abusive. Jamie’s other neighbor is the quirky Leah, who has been expelled from school and now spends her days endlessly listening to Mama Cass records. Ste often stays the night at Jamie’s flat to avoid his father’s beatings, sleeping…
03 Mar 2020
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Chalvar Monteiro was 11 years old when he first saw the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. One of his four sisters worked at a performing-arts center in New Jersey, and he came away marveling at “not only seeing beautiful dance, but brown bodies doing classical dance. At the time, dance couldn’t be a career for a black man or woman.” He’s now in his fifth year with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which is on a 21-city tour that will come to the McCallum Theatre on Wednesday, March 25. The program includes one world premiere, “Ounce of Faith,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie. “It’s an abstracted way of paying tribute to the people who invested in him,” says Monteiro (@chlvrmntro on Instagram). “His direction to us was to think of the person who started us on our way in our dance careers.” The dance is particularly meaningful to Monteiro, he…
01 Mar 2020
Work: Love it or loathe it, it determines everything about you. It affects where you live, what you drive, how you dress, the hours you keep, how you shop, who shares your life, whether you rent or own, your taxes (yes, it’s that time of year), your environment … and the list goes on. Dezart Performs’ production of Sweat is about work. The peculiar title suggests physical labor—a fact that’s confirmed when you find out that the setting is the steel town of Reading, Penn. The author, Lynn Nottage, won her second Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this script (the only woman to win two!). The play’s great director/producer, Michael Shaw, told me that Ms. Nottage spent five years researching what happened to these hardworking folks caught in the ghastly triangle of struggle between The Union, The Management, and The Workers of the plant which employs them. Yet her script…
20 Feb 2020
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The Palm Springs Dance Project has burst onto the scene as a new and exciting dance program that merges professionals with local students—and the public will get to see the fruits of the program during a series of events taking place Thursday through Saturday, March 5-7. Darcy Carozza, the founder and executive director, started dreaming up the Palm Springs Dance Project in 2015, when she was the managing director of the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum. “At that time, I noticed that dance was lacking at the theater, so I created a series of events that included dance,” she says. A breakthrough moment came, she says, when around 40 local students were performing onstage at the theater. “The event went so well—and it was inspirational,” she says. “I wanted to create more events—and that, basically, is where the Palm Springs Dance Project came from.” Carozza produced an…

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