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Theater and Dance

15 Nov 2014
The very premise is outrageous: At an English music hall, 17 of 20 cast members have been stricken with food poisoning, leaving only three people to perform all the roles in their presentation of A Christmas Carol. At opening-night of Scrooge in Rouge at the Desert Rose Playhouse, the three actors-as-actors floored the audience with multilayered performances. The show runs through Dec. 21, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy this rare treat. There is much to keep the audience’s attention. First off, the play features much hilarity, ranging from sly puns to amusing asides to outright groaners. (British humor, of course.) Next, attendees will be in awe at the indescribable energy of the show (more about this later). Then there’s the dazzling swirl of costumes and wigs and role-playing. Should we really be surprised? Director Jim Strait’s proven forte is the multilayered interpretation of a script. But this…
15 Nov 2014
You don’t have to be a gay woman or a fan of quiche to thoroughly enjoy 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, the 2014-2015 season-opening production by Dezart Performs. Written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, the five-character play opened in Chicago in 2011, then hit off-Broadway in 2012; it was named a Best Overall Production at the New York International Fringe Festival. Set in 1956, the play opens in a church basement, which has been turned into a fallout shelter. (The simple set by J.W. Layne works quite well.) The members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein have gathered for their annual quiche breakfast. The main event on the agenda: the judging of the quiches, to determine which is best. Everyone in the audience is a member of the society, too; attendees are each given a nametag upon entering. (I was “Dorothy.”) Throughout the…
02 Nov 2014
Coachella Valley Repertory’s season-opener, The Chosen, begins the company’s selection of four plays that represent the diverse cultural heritage of America. This play is bracketed by World War II in 1944 and the successful establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, and it takes place in Brooklyn. Two boys meet playing baseball—how American is that? But don’t think Norman Rockwell just yet: One of the boys belongs to the strict and tradition-bound Hassidic segment of Judaism, and the other belongs other to a more progressive, modernistic and liberal sect. Instant conflict. While the play’s main characters are Jewish, this play’s themes echo the lives of people worldwide. Almost every religion has different groups within it, each with its own rules about food, drink, travel, marriage, clothing, hair—everything. Maybe that deep sense of spiritual identification is why the audience at The Chosen was the most spellbound, silent bunch I’ve seen…
31 Oct 2014
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5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche—From Dezart Performs It’s 1956, and the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein’s lovely annual quiche breakfast is disrupted by … the threat of Communists! At 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2:30 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, Nov. 14, through Sunday, Nov. 23. $22 to $25; $44 for the show and brunch at LuLu California Bistro on Sunday, Nov. 16. At the Pearl McManus Theater in the Palm Springs Womans Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-0179; dezartperforms.org. 12th Annual Annenberg Theater Opening Night Gala Fundraiser Andrea McArdle, Maureen McGovern, Donna McKechnie and Randy Graff headline this special fundraiser, at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 15. $95 to $295. At the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee—From Palm Canyon Theatre An eclectic group of kids compete…
25 Oct 2014
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What in the world were Tres Dean and the rest of the people at College of the Desert Performing Arts thinking when they decided to produce The Rocky Horror Show—with a cast and crew primarily consisting of unseasoned college students? After all, it’s a complex musical with a large cast, challenging songs and a whole lot of choreography. At the opening-night show, my concern was heightened when a student wearing a headset took the stage and announced that the show’s start would be delayed a bit due to “technical difficulties.” Gulp. Heck, the name of Rocky Horror’s writer, Richard O’Brien, is misspelled on the show’s promo poster and program cover, for crying out loud. The prospects, as they say, were looking dim. Time-warp two hours into the future, though, and I was smiling. So were the rest of the attendees of the sold-out show as they left COD’s Theatre Too—because…
25 Oct 2014
Those of us who grew up in Canada were raised on it. We knew The Goon Show with Peter Sellers and Take It From Here on the radio; the Carry On gang’s outrageous ensemble movies; and, later, Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in theatrical revue, and the unforgettable Monty Python films. So I felt very much at home with the British-humor outrages perpetrated in Desert Theatreworks’ “Noises Off!” at the Arthur Newman Theatre—as did the eager, nearly full house of supporters on opening night. They were probably all Americans, which is just fine; humor’s birthplace doesn’t matter. It’s all about having fun and being involved. Judging from the laughter and applause, it’s certain you’ll have a great time at this show, no matter where you were born. The script, by Michael Frayn, starts with the final rehearsal of a play. We quickly see that it’s nowhere…