Category: Old Globe

Theater review: 'A Room With a View' at the Old Globe

March 16, 2012 |  3:13 pm

A room with a view

E.M. Forster knew how to weave a narrative spell as well as any 20th century English novelist. He was the master of building romantic suspense out of psychological repression. His most famous dictum, “Only connect,” is routinely shown to be much harder in good English society than it sounds.

The moviemaking team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory had great success in mining Forster's oeuvre for lavish epics that couldn't get enough of those grand manors, rolling lawns, prep-school haircuts and fancy tea services. The stage can't compete on the same pictorial front, but plots this well devised and characters this richly distinctive are too valuable a resource to pass up. Which brings us to “A Room With a View,” the rather rudimentary musical version of Forster's 1908 novel that's having its world premiere at the Old Globe.

With music and lyrics by Jeffrey Stock (“Triumph of Love”) and a book by novelist and playwright Marc Acito (who also contributed additional lyrics), the show attempts in as straightforward a manner as possible to translate the novel from the page to the singing stage. This tale of a young English woman's awakening in Florence to the glories of art, love and unruly human nature is efficiently synopsized by Acito. The songs by Stock carefully set up the characters while briskly advancing the action. But the work doesn't pulse with genuine passion — it has the feeling of a commissioned exercise that's competently yet unimaginatively pulled off.

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Spring theater preview: 'Waiting for Godot,' 'Hands on a Hardbody'

March 2, 2012 |  9:00 am

'The Scottsboro Boys'

Trucks have never really been my thing, but of the upcoming new musicals this season, I’m most curious about “Hands on a Hardbody,” the Doug Wright-Trey Anastasio-Amanda Green collaboration at La Jolla Playhouse. As for drama (or tragicomedy, to be more precise) I am champing at the bit for “Waiting for Godot,” with Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern sure to put on a Beckettian master class at the Mark Taper Forum.

Here’s a shortlist of the spring season's most promising theatrical offerings.

'Waiting for Godot'

Samuel Beckett’s play is more than just an ingenious work of theater — it’s a modern myth. Two tramps pass their time together while waiting for the appearance of a gentleman who will supposedly redeem their patience and relieve their confounded suffering. A tragicomic mix of vaudeville antics and philosophical badminton, this genre-busting work was magnificently characterized by playwright Jean Anouilh as “the music-hall sketch of Pascal’s 'Pensées' as played by Fratellini clowns.” Two highly regarded Beckett interpreters, Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern, take on the roles of Estragon and Vladimir in a production directed by Michael Arabian and featuring James Cromwell as Pozzo that will have an extraordinary wealth of experience to draw on in reanimating this modern classic.
Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles Music Center. March 21 – April 22. Tickets start at $20.

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Theater review: 'The Recommendation' at the Old Globe

January 31, 2012 |  6:00 pm

The Recommendation

Brentwood, Harvard-Westlake, Brown University, Hollywood apprenticeships — Aaron Feldman has had a golden start to life, and there’s every indication that the future will be just as gloriously posh for this would-be filmmaker.

When Aaron (played by Evan Todd with a curious mix of cockiness and whimper) makes his grand entrance in Jonathan Caren’s fidgety drama “The Recommendation,” now having its world premiere at the Old Globe, he is bathed in light and strutting around without his shirt. Yes, he even has 6-pack abs.

What a lucky guy, you find yourself thinking. Sure hope this is an old-fashioned tragedy! 

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Theater review: 'Dividing the Estate' at the Old Globe

January 23, 2012 |  6:30 am



Nothing draws out the worst in a family quite like conflicts over an inheritance. Land, money and, oh, God, jewelry, have a way of reviving old rivalries and resurrecting long-buried grudges.

Horton Foote, an America dramatist who was a master of revealing all sorts of tragic goings-on lurking under the calm domestic surface, lays bare the self-seeking ferocity of otherwise loving brothers and sisters in his superb drama “Dividing the Estate.” This quietly furious work, being presented at the Old Globe with many of the same actors from Michael Wilson’s critically acclaimed 2008 Broadway production, is not just an acute psychological study, it’s a deeply perceptive sociological one as well.

The British would call this a state-of-the-nation play. And indeed, with all the talk of foreclosures, layoffs and the depredations of big business, you’d have reason to think it came hot off the press, but it was first performed in 1989. “Dividing the Estate” takes place in the playwright’s fictionalized hometown of Harrison, Texas, in the late 1980s during a recession in the oil industry. Foote, who died in 2009, had made revisions to the script for its New York premiere, but one of the eye-opening aspects of the play is the way it provides historical depth to our current crises. Yes, 20-odd years ago we were fretting, just as we are today, over how America is becoming a service economy and falling behind more industrious Asian countries as sloth, greed and superficiality threaten to accelerate the pace of decline.

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Horton Foote's children carry on his work, acting at Old Globe

January 14, 2012 | 12:00 pm

Families coming to strife over how to divvy up the land that makes up their legacy is as old a dramatic subject as "King Lear." But Horton Foote's handling of it in "Dividing the State" is considerably more funny.

The comedy's West Coast premiere at The Old Globe theater in San Diego deals with a legacy in more ways than one. When he died three years ago, just shy of his 93rd birthday, Foote left behind a theatrical oeuvre of more than 60 plays, plus Oscar-winning screenplays for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." Now Hallie Foote and Horton Foote Jr., his eldest daughter and son, are uniting to carry his work forward.

Read here about how they'll be battling onstage as sibling rivals for the sake of doing just the opposite as their father's son and daughter.


Remembering Horton Foote

Letting go: such sweet sorrow

Horton Foote dies at 92; playwright, screenwriter chronicled small-town Southern life

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Hallie Foote and Horton Foote Jr. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times

Old Globe summer season includes Shakespeare, 'God of Carnage'

November 16, 2011 |  4:10 pm


The Old Globe's 2012 summer season will feature the West Coast debut of "Divine Rivalry," Michael Kramer's new historical drama about Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as the San Diego premiere of "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza.

In addition, the company's annual summer Shakespeare Festival will feature repertory productions of "Richard III," "As You Like It" and "Inherit the Wind." Adrian Noble is returning as the festival's director and will stage the latter two plays.

"Divine Rivalry" (July 7 to Aug. 12) tells the story of a painting competition between Michelangelo and Leonardo, organized by Niccolo Machiavelli. The play, written by Kramer with D. S. Moynihan, debuted earlier this year at the Hartford Stage, directed by that company's outgoing director, Michael Wilson.

The Old Globe's production of "Divine Rivalry" will also be directed by Wilson.

Reza's "God of Carnage" (July 27 to Sept. 2) is a dark comedy about two pairs of parents squabbling over their respective sons who were involved in a playground fight. Richard Seer will direct the production. The play had its L.A. debut earlier this year at the Ahmanson Theatre.

The Shakespeare Festival will feature parallel productions of "Richard III" (June 3 to Sept. 29), "As You Like It" (June 10 to Sept. 30) and Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's "Inherit the Wind" (June 17 to Sept. 25).

"Richard III" will be directed by Lindsay Posner.


Theater review: 'Somewhere' at the Old Globe

Old Globe loses director for 'Rocky Horror' revival

Executive producer Lou Spisto to leave Old Globe in San Diego

-- David Ng

Photo: The Old Globe campus in San Diego. Credit: The Old Globe


Lou Spisto to depart Old Globe to be independent stage producer

October 17, 2011 |  3:26 pm

The board president of the Old Globe in San Diego applauded the record of Lou Spisto, the executive producer and chief executive officer who announced Monday he is leaving the nationally recognized theater to be an independent producer.

Harold W. Fuson Jr. described the company as being in excellent financial health, with an annual budget of $20 million, up from $12 million when Spisto joined the Old Globe nine years ago. He said the board had a good relationship with Spisto.

In a phone interview, Spisto said of his departure: "It was my decision."

"I've been talking to the board about it for a couple of months," Spisto said. "I've had over the past several years some projects that I've worked on outside the Globe. There was one that I gave up a year and a half ago, an independent project that I had rights to. And I've had mixed emotions about it since then."

Michael G. Murphy, the company's general manager, will serve as the company's interim head following Spisto's departure at the end of December.

The announcement of Spisto's resignation coincides with the company's tumultuous revival of "The Rocky Horror Show" that saw the abrupt departures of its lead actor and director before opening night. But Spisto said his decision to leave has nothing to do with "Rocky Horror."

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Executive producer Lou Spisto to leave Old Globe in San Diego

October 17, 2011 |  1:45 pm

Lou Spisto, the head of the Old Globe in San Diego, will be stepping down from his post in December after nine years with the theater company. Spisto said he is leaving to become an independent stage producer.

"It was my decision. I've been talking to the board about it for a couple of months," Spisto said in a phone interview. "I've had over the past several years some projects that I've worked on outside the Globe. There was one that I gave up a year and a half ago, an independent project that I had rights to. And I've had mixed emotions about it since then."

Spisto was appointed executive director of the Old Globe in October 2002 and assumed the position of executive producer in January 2008. During his tenure, he oversaw a number of high-profile productions as well as the annual summer Shakespeare Festival.

The announcement of his resignation coincides with the company's tumultuous revival of "The Rocky Horror Show" that saw the abrupt departures of its lead actor and director before opening night. But Spisto said his decision to leave has nothing to do with "Rocky Horror."

For further developments, check back with Culture Monster.

-- David Ng

Photo: The Old Globe in San Diego. Credit: From the Old Globe

Theater review: 'Somewhere' at the Old Globe

October 5, 2011 |  4:15 pm

Somewhere 1 

This review has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

SAN DIEGO -- At dinner in the Candelaria home, Inez (Priscilla Lopez) asks for God's blessing not just for her three children but also for Chita Rivera, President Eisenhower and Cary Grant. She puts in a special word for her daughter, Rebecca (Benita Robledo), who's auditioning for the touring company of the new hit “West Side Story” — a prospect more exciting to this bubbly stage mother than winning the lottery.

“Somewhere,” Matthew Lopez's often charming though overstuffed drama now receiving its world premiere at the Old Globe, takes place in a poor, showbiz-obsessed household on the West Side of Manhattan during the Golden Age of the American musical. It's 1959, and Broadway is surging with the talents of Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. The excitement generated by “West Side Story” is keenly felt by the Candelarias, thrilled to see cultural reflections of their Latino lives in an America that isn't always good at keeping promises.

Times are tough for the family. Inez's husband has left for California and doesn't appear to be sending for her and the children any time soon. Worse, their apartment complex is slated for demolition to make way for Lincoln Center, which will displace low-income residents like the Candelarias to housing projects a long subway ride from the theater district.

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Review: 'Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show' at Old Globe

September 27, 2011 | 12:45 am

  Kit Treece, from left, Matt McGrath, Laura Shoop, and Andrew Call in "Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show"
This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

Didn’t we pass a castle back there? No, San Diego, I don’t mean the Mormon spires visible from Interstate 5. The lair of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, pansexual mad scientist and mascara whore, is just up ahead in “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show,” now campily revived at the Old Globe. O'Brien's giddy 1973 sci-fi cult classic has now breached the tasteful bulwarks of regional theater, and one suspects the subscription sales manager is getting some interesting phone calls. 

A quick recap for the uninitiated: Squeaky-clean couple Brad (Kelsey Kurz) and Janet (Jeanna de Waal), lost into a convenient rainstorm, seek aid at a peculiar mansion full of people dressed for a 1980s Madonna video. Their host (Matt McGrath), a Dionysus in thigh-highs, quickly divests them of their damp clothes and inhibitions, as they embark on an odyssey of sexual discovery and hard-driving rock numbers (the five-piece band led by Mike Wilkins is excellent, but curiously out of place without wearing corsets).

Channeling Judy Garland and Dirk Bogarde, McGrath (a last-minute replacement for James Barbour), has the charisma and ease to command an audience, but he’s all dolled up with nowhere to go — storywise, that is. For all its nifty rear projections, dry ice, and artfully constructed leather gear, this “Horror” shares the identity crisis of Rocky (Sydney James Harcourt), the naughty doctor’s homemade test tube hottie: It doesn’t seem to know what it wants to express, other than a lively affection for the 1975 film. But if you aren't a Transylvanian or a devotee of "Glee," you may have trouble even following what's going on.

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