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Theater and Dance

10 Nov 2019
The Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre has begun its first full season in the company’s wonderful new playhouse in Cathedral City—and, rather appropriately, this season’s theme is “New Beginnings.” The opening show is Dinner With Friends, by playwright Donald Margulies. It won the Pulitzer Prize for drama back in 2000, along with a batch of other awards. Now … if you’re looking for a play full of action, this is not for you. If you’re looking for a catharsis-provoking tragedy that will have you wringing out your Kleenex, forget it. If you want an uproarious thigh-slapper of a comedy, move on. However … if you have ever wanted to be a fly on some wall where you could watch the interactions between people and see the changing of their relationships, this quiet play might interest you. Dinner With Friends has a cast of four—all efficient actors who maintain a low-key approach…
09 Nov 2019
Great theater should do more than just entertain us. Ideally, it challenges us, uplifts us—or stuns and outrages us, and perhaps forces us to re-examine some of our core beliefs. Dezart Performs’ production of Robert Askins’ Broadway hit Hand to God does all that—and more. The story is set in a church basement in suburban Cypress, Texas. Just-widowed Margery (Yo Younger) has assembled a small group of volunteers to put on a Christian puppet show. In attendance are her troubled teenage son, Jason (Eddie Vona); his secret crush, Jessica (Brenna Williams); and local bad-boy Timothy (Danny Gomez). Jason’s anger and grief over the loss of his father are raw. He blames Margery for not being able to provide the emotional support his dad apparently needed. Instead, the man turned to food for comfort—and ate his way into a fatal heart attack. Margery is also adrift; the loss of her husband—with…
15 Oct 2019
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Steven Fales has been doing his one-man show Confessions of a Mormon Boy for a long time—for 18 years, to be exact. After a 2001 Salt Lake City premiere and 10-week developmental run in Miami in 2003, Mormon Boy was a hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, and enjoyed a four-month Off-Broadway run in 2006. Since then, it’s been performed all around the world—including South Africa this past summer. However, Fales and Confessions of a Mormon Boy have now created a home, of sorts, right here in Palm Springs: Fales will be performing the show every Tuesday night at The Club at Hotel Zoso through the end of January. After a month or so of previews, the official opening night will take place Tuesday, Oct. 22. This is the third Coachella Valley stint this year alone for Confessions of a Mormon Boy, following performances at the Desert…
05 Oct 2019
Americans have always turned to entertainment to get them through tough times like recessions, wars and political upheaval. Live theater, movies and music soothe our souls and offer a respite from a sometimes-harsh reality. Given what’s happening in our country (and the world) presently, pleasant diversions seem more important than ever. Desert Rose Playhouse has just the ticket: Its production of Charles Busch’s Die, Mommie Die! is raucous, raunchy and hilarious. The play was first produced in Los Angeles in 1999, with a film version released in 2003. Set in 1960s Hollywood, the play tells the story of aging, washed-up singer Angela Arden (Loren Freeman), who—although her voice is shot—is planning a comeback. Her marriage to movie mogul Sol Sussman (Dr. David Brendel) is a sham. He’s battling major digestive issues, perhaps brought on by owing money to the mob. Of course, Angela has a lover on the side: unemployed…
28 Sep 2019
The Independent is starting our seventh season of theater reviews—and the first of this new season celebrates the emergence of a new theater company. Well, the Encore Theatre District isn’t really “new”: For two seasons now, Encore has been quietly performing at the Black Box Theatre at the Palm Springs High School. For the 2019-2020 season, Encore has moved to the Palm Springs Cultural Center (formerly the Camelot Theatres), where it is rumored that the popcorn is most excellent. (BTW, why is it that popcorn makes a movie better? Regardless, I can’t bring myself to take it in to a live performance.) The group’s artistic director, Tiffanie Patscheck, is ETD’s inspiration and driving force. She was born here and studied with the legendary Rosemary Mallett before moving to Connecticut for five years; she returned after marinating in its enormously successful theatrical community. “I see us as different,” she told me…
17 Sep 2019
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Cathy Schenkelberg is coming to the valley to perform her renowned one-woman show, Squeeze My Cans: Surviving Scientology, for one reason: Scott Smith. “He’s been my friend since (we both lived in) Chicago,” Schenkelberg said during a recent phone interview. “We did Hair together, the Midwest tour. He was Berger, and I was Crissy. Scott is gay, and he knew that I loved him. I was like, ‘Oh, why are you gay? I want you to be my lover.’ We made a pact that if either of us reached a certain age, and neither of us had kids, we would have a child together. I remember when I got pregnant with my daughter, I said, ‘Well, too late. I’m pregnant.’” Scott Smith, a beloved local performer who was on the board of Dezart Performs, died suddenly last year, after suffering a heart attack. He was 61 years old. “I was…

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