Pete ‘n Keely has a very thin premise, and the way it’s fleshed out is every bit as predictable as you’d expect. Its saving grace is getting to hear two talented performers sing and act their way through a bunch of standards.
Playwright Bruce Norris takes Avenue Q’s snarky bromide that everyone’s a little bit racist to its logical conclusion in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, now playing through February 10 at San Diego REP’s Lyceum Stage. I have a bone to pick with how Mr. Norris manipulates the story, but I have no bones about recommending this solid-at-every-level production.
South Pacific, now playing through March 17 at the Welk Resorts Theatre, is deservedly rated as one of the best and most lavish musicals of all time. The Welk’s production is nowhere near lavish, but it proves to be solid enough to be enjoyed by the entire family.
On the surface John Doe is about a man (Michael Nieto) who ends up in a hospital emergency room with no identification and apparently in a coma. He is cared for by one nurse in particular (Rachel Propst), who takes a liking to him without knowing anything about him. Also hanging about are five fairly stereotypical and one-dimensional men who are not seen by the staff but who watch the goings on from a set of waiting room chairs. A sixth character (Jane Lui), who it turns out, is John’s wife, flits in and out like a mental case, clinging to one or more of the men.
Last January’s version was clearly an “audience show,” with a fair amount of sing-along to what has become familiar music, mostly of the folk variety. All of the cast members were solid, but Mr. Crossland, a newbie to theatre, impressed with his tenor lead vocals – not surprising, as Mr. Crossland’s mentor was San Diego native John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. Somehow, though, the moment has passed. In January, we could empathize with a cast that had been assembled for a Pete Seeger tribute (Mr. Armstrong even looks a little like Mr. Seeger) and then had to revise suddenly when Mr. Seeger withdrew his support. We could root openly for the sympathetic comments about the Occupy movement. We could watch with studied horror as the Republican Party tried out an ever more conservative, anti-protest, set of presidential favorites.