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Theater and Dance

29 Jul 2013
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It’s almost August, and that means that the Coachella Valley cultural scene is entering its deadest time of the year. Nonetheless, there are still a lot of things going on: Movies and music can be found in surprising abundance throughout the month. But when it comes to theater—forget it. The local companies pretty much ignore the month of August. Perhaps they’re prepping for the 2013-2014 season; perhaps they’re taking a much-needed break. Whatever the reason, August is, by far, the slowest theater month in the Coachella Valley. Still, a few local companies are at least throwing us Coachella Valley theater-lovers a bone or two this month. Here are some shows worth your attention. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3 The brand-new Desert Theatreworks has big plans for 2013-2014: The company has four full shows slated for the season, ranging from an Agatha Christie whodunit to a musical set in…
26 Jul 2013
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When the McCallum Theatre announced its 2013-2014 season in the spring, the first show on the calendar was the Second Annual Family Fun Day, featuring the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, on Sunday, Oct. 13. But as of today, Family Fun Day is the fourth show on the calendar. “When you get offered Bill Maher, but he can only do a show in September, we’re going to do it,” says Jeffrey Norman, the McCallum’s director of communications and public affairs. That Bill Maher performance—on Saturday, Sept. 28—is one of a dozen new shows that was announced by the McCallum today. Single tickets for some of those early-season shows—including the Maher show ($55 to $95)—will go on sale next Thursday, Aug. 1, with the rest of the single tickets available on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Other new shows announced today include Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell (Wednesday, Oct.…
05 Aug 2013
As I prepare for another production of Lush!, which I wrote about the first woman who was involved with Alcholics Anonymous, I thought I’d share the story behind the story. It started onstage, when I was playing the supporting role of “Anne Smith,” wife of Dr. Bob Smith, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the play Bill W. and Dr. Bob. (Bill Wilson, of course, is the other co-founder.) It was a role I felt I was meant to do, since my paternal grandmother’s name was Mary Anne Smith … and her husband was my grandfather, “Dr. Bob” Hume. Loving that connection, I set out to bring the role to life. During one performance, the unbidden thought popped into my head, “Wait a minute. Everyone makes such a fuss over these two guys. Who was the first WOMAN in AA?” I didn’t know the answer. Research revealed a fascinating and…
15 Jul 2013
Pippin. The very name suggests fun, music and lightness. But there’s also a dark side to this season-closer musical at the Palm Canyon Theatre. It’s a show of contrasts. It’s primarily a dance show. The bevy of “players” writhe, flip, shimmy, roll, strut, gyrate, leap, frolic, prance, hop, mince, stride, march, saunter, flit, spin, gallop, toddle, shuffle, glide, prowl and skim over every inch of the stage. The choreographer, Anthony Nannini, has adapted the dancing from the work of the immortal Bob Fosse. The dancers represent every possible body shape and type, but from the opening number—with the disembodied white-gloved hands illuminated by black light—it’s Fosse all the way. Sexy and suggestive moves combine with Peter Mins’ glitzy, dazzling costumes to maximize the effect. As far as the plot goes, I’m reminded of TV and movie thugs who say, “Fuhgeddaboudit!” I’m particularly reminded of a scene—I think it was in…
01 Jul 2013
Pecans! Who doesn’t love ‘em? Playwright Stephen Bittrich, on a chatty program page, admits to being born in a pecan environment: Seguin, Texas, the setting for his two-act Home of the Great Pecan, now being performed in Joshua Tree. The Hi-Desert Cultural Center is hosting the play through Saturday, July 13. The publicity hints at UFO sightings and other weirdness, and, of course, the play takes place in the South, whence come pecans. The play echoes Sordid Lives, Trailer Trash, and other wildly colorful spoofs of the South’s characters … in the 1980s, no less. Was there ever another time like that? Huge kudos to director Wendy Cohen for even attempting this show—the cast contains 15 actors. Casting this, in a small town? I can’t even imagine the logistics of scheduling rehearsals, let alone wrangling such a mob. And the show is in a “black box” setting! The theater seats…
21 Jun 2013
Is there anything more exciting than the prospect of an upcoming theater season? The offerings from the valley’s varied companies always provide a huge variety—and the 2013-2014 season is no exception. I can’t wait! Below, you’ll find comments from the theater companies that had announced their schedules and shared their information with us as of our press deadline; we will add more at CVIndependent.com as other companies report back to us. Don’t miss my reviews of many of these plays, both online and in the Independent’s monthly edition, launching in October! Desert Rose Playhouse HOUSE OF THE RISING SON, by Tom Jacobsen: Sept. 27-Oct. 27 THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD, by Paul Rudnick: Nov. 15-Dec. 22 NITE CLUB CONFIDENTIAL, by Dennis Deal: Jan. 10-Feb. 16 An untitled new play, by Dan Clancy: March 21-April 20 THE HAUNTED HOST, by Robert Patrick: May 2-June 1 Jim Strait and partner Paul…