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Theater and Dance

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…
20 May 2013
The era depicted in Bye Bye Birdie must seem like ancient history to the kids in the cast of the production at the Palm Canyon Theatre. But for those of us who do remember those days, the show ironically recalls—and satirizes—that amazing time. Thanks to J.W. Layne’s versatile set, the décor hurls us back in time to the iconic designs of 1958. Throughout this musical—which hit Broadway in 1960, followed by the big screen in 1963—we are treated to the outrageous colors, fashions and dance styles of the time. A big salute to Se Layne Tethal and her crew for the costumes, Mado Nunez for the hairstyles and wigs, Nick Edwards for props, Anthony Nannini for his choreography, Layne Tethal for the lighting, David McLaughlin for his musical direction, and all the crew members who pitched in. Of course, big kudos go to director Matthew Gose, who beautifully brought it…
18 May 2013
The eyebrow-raising title alerts: This is probably not just another cabaret show. And then playwright-actor-singer-lyricist-dancer David Pevsner proves it isn't. Making its world premiere at the Desert Rose Playhouse, Musical Comedy Whore escorts us into another world. The one-act, one-man show is the season’s closer for Desert Rose. (Artistic director Jim Strait opens the evening with a description of the company’s history and the shows on tap next season, which begins on Sept. 27.) Pevsner pops onto the stage wearing a plain green T-shirt and old jeans. Gasp—is he not even wearing makeup? Where is the razzmatazz and glitter of “musical comedy” that we’ve come to expect? Good heavens—he hasn’t even touched up his graying hair! What are we in for? The answer to that question: raw honesty. Pevsner is here to tell us about his life—unvarnished, unretouched, unpardoned. He neither whines nor makes excuses nor assigns blame, as he…
03 Apr 2013
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As an example of how all over the map the McCallum Theatre’s 2013-2014 season offerings are, look at the first four shows. The season begins on Oct. 13 with the theater’s Second Annual Family Fun Day, featuring the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater and its performing pooches and kitties (yes, performing cats; who knew?). That’s followed five days later by the first-ever performance of Alton Brown Live, a show featuring the off-kilter-in-a-good-way Food Network host. One week later, Mexican theater hit Frida: The Musical—performed entirely in Spanish—is on the boards. Next, country-music star Vince Gill will take the stage. So … you have pet theater, followed by a goofy but educational chef, followed by a serious Spanish-language musical, followed by country music. And by the way, that’s all followed by a series of dance events that McCallum president/CEO Mitch Gershenfeld hopes will set the stage, so to speak, for a true…