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Theater and Dance

14 Mar 2015
For many years, Coachella Valley audiences have enjoyed the works of award-winning playwright Tony Padilla. He was co-founder of the Playwright’s Circle with Marilee Warner, and is now enjoying success with his own company, Desert Ensemble Theatre. A member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Tony has won many local awards, including the Desert Theatre League’s Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original Writing for his play Becoming Ava. Knowing his impressive background, I always look forward to seeing a new play by Tony with great anticipation. His latest offering, Two by Tony, is a couple of one-act plays now on stage at the Pearl McManus Theater at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. The first is Family Meeting, directed by Desert Ensemble Theatre Company’s artistic director, Rosemary Mallett. It’s a drama peppered with dark comedy which takes place in the home of Daniel Mann (Alan Berry), a bitter, washed-up playwright now…
09 Mar 2015
Coachella Valley Repertory and artistic director Ron Celona are known for presenting challenging, thought-provoking theater pieces—and CV Rep has solidified that well-deserved reputation with Carmen Rivera’s La Gringa. The Spanish version of the show opened at Repertorio Español in February 1996 and won an Obie that year. (CV Rep is presenting the English version.) It’s still in repertory and holds the distinction of being the longest-running Off-Broadway Spanish language play. The story chronicles the journey of 20-something Maria (Ayanery Reyes), a Puerto Rican woman who was born and raised in New York, as she searches for her roots in her homeland. She heads to Puerto Rico at Christmas time to visit her aunt Norma (Marina Re), cousin Iris (Kyla Garcia) and uncles Victor (Robert Almodovar) and Manolo (Peter Mins). We also meet likable neighbor Monchi (Eliezer Ortiz), who owns a thriving vegetable farm. Bouncing through the front door filled with…
09 Mar 2015
If you’re one of those poor souls carrying resentment about mistreatment by nuns in Catholic school—or if you just need a few good belly laughs—get to the Desert Rose Playhouse, pronto. The Divine Sister, produced by Paul Taylor, may just be your salvation. The play was originally conceived by actor, writer and longtime female impersonator Charles Busch as a star vehicle for himself. Known for his off-Broadway play Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and the Broadway hit The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, Busch once said, “Drag is being more, more than you can be.” The Divine Sister is a demented tribute to films featuring nuns, from The Sound of Music to Agnes of God. The story unfolds at St. Veronica’s Convent and grade school in Pittsburgh. Mother Superior (Jim Strait) has many issues to deal with, including the fact that the school building is falling down. She’s dealing with a…
06 Mar 2015
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Laurence Luckinbill was originally supposed to perform his one-man show Teddy Tonight! at the McCallum Theatre a year ago. That didn’t happen. “I broke a bone in my foot—a nothing bone, a tiny bone,” Luckinbill told me over breakfast at The Palms Café in Rancho Mirage on a recent windy morning. “That transmuted into a four-inch tear of the lateralis muscle in my thigh. I would up spending two weeks in the hospital, right when I was supposed to get going.” As a result, Luckinbill, 80, had to cancel the show, during which he plays Theodore Roosevelt on one of the former president’s most trying days. However, Luckinbill has now recovered—and he gained a greater understanding of himself in the process, he said. “My own spirit said, ‘You need to take stock. You need to change,’” Luckinbill said. He’s slated to finally perform Teddy Tonight! at the McCallum on Thursday,…
25 Feb 2015
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Buyer and Cellar—From Coyote Stageworks Emerson Collins (Sordid Lives) stars in the comedy Buyer and Cellar, which focuses on the price of fame, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; and 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, from Friday, March 27, through Sunday, April 5. $45 to $60. At the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, 31001 Rattler Road, Rancho Mirage. 760-318-0024; www.coyotestageworks.org. The Divine Sister—From Desert Rose Playhouse The Charles Busch-written show, an outrageous comic homage to nearly every Hollywood film involving nuns, takes place at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, March 6, through Sunday, March 29. $28 to $30. At 69620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage. 760-202-3000; www.desertroseplayhouse.org. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum—From Palm Canyon Theatre The famous play about slave Pseudolus’ attempts to help his young master earn the love of a courtesan named Philia is performed at 7 p.m.,…
21 Feb 2015
A Handful of Nickels and Dimes opened on Friday, Feb. 20, at the Indio Performing Arts Center to a sold-out house of appreciative vaudeville fans. The attendees were mostly (very lively!) seniors, but this show would provide an education to any age group, as it deconstructs this fascinating segment of theatrical history, and analyzes the reasons for its success and eventual demise. The cast demonstrates the varied elements that created the wonder of vaudeville from the late 1800s through to the start of World War II. The cast is equally varied. Musician/songstress Yve Evans leads the show, joined by magician Dean Apple, emcee and vocalist Justin Blake, wide-eyed blonde bombshell Cat Lyn Day, comedian Stephen Kauffman, and Jeanette Knight in dazzling assortment of roles from chorus girl to comedienne; similarly, Michael Seneca plays everything from a baggy-pants comic to a bratty schoolboy. It’s all about timing. Vaudeville, of course, combines…