SSC's 'Three Musketeers' a palpable hit.
En garde! Prepare for serious roistering in “The Three Musketeers,” the second production of Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 30th Anniversary season. Adapted from Alexandre Dumas' evergreen swashbuckling classic, it's beautifully staged by director Art Manke outdoors in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. In this dynamic production, plots are hatched, troths are plighted, honor is impugned and defended, wars are fought, and swords are crossed at every opportunity. If it all feels a bit breathless, it's still rousing good fun.
Dumas' picaresque novel was first published in serial format in 1844. This new adaptation by playwrights Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy, and Penny Metropulos (commissioned for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1999) is impressive in its fidelity to the breadth of Dumas' novel. Plot-furthering climaxes chase each other across the stage at breakneck speed. Manke keeps the action fleet and fluid, in and out of the many compartments, balconies, terraces, draperies, and stairwells of Michael Ganio's formidable set. Some incidents feel rushed, but it's worth noting that director Richard Lester needed two feature-length films to tell the same story this adaptation covers in a fast couple of hours.
SSC scores with Scheie's 'Comedy of Errors' reboot
Longtime local theatergoers may remember Danny Scheie's original staging of “The Comedy of Errors” as possibly the single funniest production ever mounted at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Premiered in the 1988 season and encored in 1993, it made full use of the outdoor Festival Glen, including a bicycle-built-for-four that came roaring down the hillside, and a massive upstage wall with Laugh-In style open-and-shut windows that turned Shakespeare's frolicsome early comedy about two sets of twins, mistaken identities, and male-female relations into a literal slamming-door farce.
In celebration of SSC's 30th Anniversary season, Scheie returns with a lively reboot of “The Comedy of Errors.” Although scaled back for the indoor Mainstage with John Iacovelli's single, functional wall and a couple of chairs for a set, and eight intrepid performers handling some 20 speaking parts, this “Comedy” retains all of the laughs.
Cabrillo Stage turns up the volume
Santa Cruz, we have a problem. The capacity of Cabrillo’s Crocker Theater is 523, and there are 13 performances of Cabrillo Stage’s smash hit production of “Hairspray” left on the calendar. You do the math—and then get yourself a ticket, stat.
Last weekend’s opening of the Tony Award- winning musical played to a full house, one that squealed with bobby sox enthusiasm, laughed at every gag, whether over the top or nuanced, and rose to their feet en masse—for a standing ovation, and to dance along with the talented cast during curtain call.
“Hairspray” is a coming-of-age story. In this cleverly written show, the story is set in 1962 and the setting is segregated Baltimore and its local televised teen sock hop, The Corny Collins Show. This show within a show (one of my favorite devices) features The Nicest Kids in Town, and once a month —Negro Day. This subtle hint in the second song of the show alerts us to the savvy subterfuge ahead.
In a black-on-black topography delineated only by texture, a thick viscous muck marches upward at an angle within a deep steel frame. This tarry density contrasts with the reflective, burnished darkness beyond, suggesting a dangerous precipice looming against shining sky. Carved deep within the tarry cliff, small oblong chambers are scribed with lines suggesting growing seeds. A small cluster of metal type floats above the dark horizon like seeds just released in the wind in an untitled work by Michelle Stitz.
Stitz in her most ambitious and successful works seems to seek that dangerous fulcrum between profoundly minimal and disturbingly unresolved. Just a hair more clear, linear or prescriptive and they could become prettily prosaic, but with any less information, could seem empty of content. That’s a slender hair upon which to hang a reputation and Stitz runs right up to that hairsbreadth, and balances right there, on the precipice.
Aspiring authors get the chance to tell their story at ‘Pitchapalooza’
Do you have what it takes to be the next James Durbin of the literary world? In what has been touted as the American Idol for aspiring authors, book doctors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are bringing their acclaimed “Pitchapalooza” event to Bookshop Santa Cruz on Thursday, July 28.
The event should go something like this: Twenty-five would-be authors will be picked at random to pitch their story ideas to a panel of publishing industry insiders. Each contestant will have one minute to take to the stage and start talking. Once the idea has been pitched and the minute is up, the judges will critique everything from the idea itself to the writer’s pitching style and the marketability of the potential book. At the end of Pitchapalooza, judges will convene to pick a winner—who will receive a half-hour consultation with Eckstut and Sterry on how to turn his or her idea into a published manuscript.
Cabrillo stage unveils its biggest musical yetz
Hairspray” finally hits Cabrillo Stage this week and along with it comes veteran director Janie Scott, actor Tony Panighetti and newcomer Monica Turner.
The Broadway hit—which was inspired by the original John Waters movie—revolves around freedom and civil rights. At its core is Tracy Turnblad (Turner), who wants only one thing in the world: to dance on The Corny Collins Show on TV. She also wants to overcome the prejudices that come with living in Baltimore in the early 1960s.
Fellow actor Panighetti expresses how the themes of the musical are extremely prevalent in today's culture: "American Idol is the big thing. It's about watching the underdog take over and inspire America. Glee is all about misfits. This has become a musical generation; [one] where everyone is rooting for the underdog."
Stripped down Shakespeare tickles SC’s funny bone
This is Danny Scheie's seventh time directing “The Comedy of Errors,” but his second for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, which debuts on July 9 and runs until Aug. 28 at the Mainstage Theater.
Scheie has carried out nationally-renowned work as an actor, but directing “The Comedy of Errors” holds a special place for him. “For me, I love this play and part of the reason I love it is because I know it too well and it's sort of a true thing about Shakespeare that … we're always told he's infinite,” he says. “You can study him your whole life and learn something every time you see [a Shakespeare play], and I actually think that's true.”
All for one, one for Shakespeare Santa Cruz
This year's Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of Alexander Dumas' epic masterpiece, “The Three Musketeers,” is set against a redwood forest backdrop—that sublime Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen we have all come to appreciate. Directed by Art Menke, the play is sure to draw a crowd with its classic storyline and early run this summer.
The famous novel tells the story of D'Artagnan, a young man who dreams of becoming a musketeer. Set in 17th century Paris, D'Artagnan befriends three musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Together they go through various misadventures, one of the most famous being a rescue of the Queen of France amidst war. Kit Wilder, a veteran actor of “The Three Musketeers,” plays Porthos, the extrovert and larger-than-life musketeer.
Local composer, Phil Collins, named county’s Artist of the Year
Though he shares his name with the former Genesis frontman, chances are, unless you’ve taken a music class from longtime Santa Cruzan Phil Collins, or seen him conducting a local ensemble, you wouldn’t be able to pick him out in a crowd. And that’s just fine with him.
Collins enjoys the work he does behind the scenes. For every moment he has spent onstage playing piano or guitar, he has spent an equal amount of time out of the public eye, planning lessons, writing grants for various musical organizations he is involved with, and studying the musical traditions of indigenous peoples around the world.