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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Theater and Dance

25 Oct 2016
Dezart Performs has developed a reputation for presenting bold and avant-garde theatrical productions—so it means something when artistic director Michael Shaw says that the 2016-2017 season is Dezart’s boldest yet. Shaw says he has a fondness socially relevant yet “wacky” plays. Casa Valentina, Dezart’s season-opener, certainly fits that bill. Written by Harvey Fierstein, Casa Valentina received four 2014 Tony Award nominations, including a nomination for Best Play. Set in the Catskills in 1962, the play offers a peek into the lives of heterosexual men who enjoy dressing up and behaving like women. During the week, they pursue respectable careers as ad execs, lawyers and sales reps—but when the weekend rolls around, they cut loose and take on their female personas. Casa Valentina is owned and operated by George—whose alter ego is Valentina—as well as George’s wife, Rita. The play is based on a real-life haven for heterosexual transvestites that was…
01 Oct 2016
It’s autumn, and again, the theater season begins. How auspicious that the beginning of our fourth season of theater reviews coincides with the opening of the fifth season of plays by the fabulously successful Desert Rose Playhouse. With all the doom-sayers proclaiming that live theater is dead, and that newspapers are dead, we have both survived. This year, Desert Rose’s artistic director, Jim Strait, tells us that he and producer Paul Taylor are “addressing the woes of the world by doing comedy.” What a great idea! Their plans for 2016-17 include The Santaland Diaries, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom with Coma, Southern Baptist Sissies and Clark Gable Slept Here. If these crazy titles are any indication, we’re in for a LOT of fun this year at our desert’s LGBT playhouse. The initial offering, POZ, was written by Michael Aman. It’s set in 2003 in The City (as New Yorkers proudly call…
21 Jul 2016
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The Coachella Valley and High Desert are blessed with a variety of unique and ambitious local theater companies. But you would not necessarily know that’s the case in August: Not one of the Coachella Valley companies had a single regular show scheduled during the month. However, perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned over at Desert Rose Playhouse: The company just extended its run of Party by three weeks thanks to brisk ticket sales, so instead of ending on July 31, the comedy will now run through Aug. 21. In other words … there is indeed a theater audience around during the summer. Well, at least there is if a show involves nudity. Anyway, here’s what local theater-lovers can look forward to from the valley’s most prominent theater companies during the upcoming season. Coachella Valley Repertory Company cvrep.org CV Rep made headlines in July when it was announced that the…
25 Jun 2016
Sold out! A wall-to-wall audience surged into the Desert Rose Playhouse for the LGBT theater company’s summer show: David Dillon’s Party. The play was originally created in 1992 in response to the heavy hearts of that time, weighed down by the stigma of being gay, plus the fear and loss created by the AIDS epidemic. When it opened in Chicago, producers anticipated a run of several weeks—but it ran for two years! Next, it went to New York—specifically, off-Broadway—where it flourished before going worldwide. And now, it’s onstage in Rancho Mirage. The timing could not be better: Opening night came 12 days after the Orlando shooting. With our hearts still aching and our tears not yet dry after the horrors at Pulse, Party takes us to a carefree evening where seven gay friends congregate. Is there anything more healing than laughter? This show gives us belly laughs, chortles, whoops, cackles,…
07 May 2016
When the opening of a play is postponed a week, apparently because the cast is not quite ready, it tends to make reviewers a bit nervous. What if the cast is still not ready? What if the show’s just a bomb? Thankfully, my worries about the world premiere of Junk at the Desert Rose Playhouse were unfounded: Other than a few opening night jitters, it was quite an enjoyable production. The musical is based on the real-life experience of writer/composer Michael Penny. While helping clean out a dead man’s home, two friends find the place chock-full of porn and other indications of the late resident’s loneliness and quirks. So begins the plot of Junk. Two gay men—60ish Miss Lily (Jim Strait) and his “student,” 35-year-old Chris (Robbie Wayne)—arrive to dispose of the contents of a recently deceased man’s North Carolina cottage. The dearly departed has left behind a huge collection…
24 Apr 2016
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As a lovely female voice sings in the background, a professionally dressed woman walks to the front of the stage and begins a monologue. She likes to believe that every story has a happy ending, she tells us. She wants to believe in “alternate reals.” As a child, she saw Greta Garbo’s film Camille several times, and always dreamed that, hidden in a vault somewhere in Hollywood, there’s a film reel with an ending in which Garbo doesn’t die of consumption. As Dr. Martha Livingstone (Marsha Waterbury) talks, a woman in a nun’s habit, who we later learn is the Mother Superior (Laura Julian), approaches and interrupts. The two begin a discussion—and we soon find out what’s going on. The details are horrific: Several months before, a young nun, Agnes (Britt Adams), was found unconscious in her room. She’d just given birth—and her child was found dead in a trash…