header - onstage

300-hamlet HAMLET – San Diego:  Shakespeare is deemed to be the greatest English language playwright, Hamlet is undoubtedly his greatest play, and San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre is one of the top Shakespearean companies in the world.  The combination is destined for an unbeatable evening as The Old Globe brings the tragedy about the young Prince of Denmark to life this month.  Each summer, they produce two of the Bard’s works at their outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, and the results are always wonderful.  The Elizabethan language is easily understood when delivered by excellent actors, and the sound amplification is subtle but very effective.  On my first visit, I was amazed at how clearly I could hear every word, and then eventually noticed speakers camouflaged within the theatre’s framework and realized that radio mics were being used.  Written in five acts, Hamlet originally ran for over four hours, but again, The Old Globe typically trims their works down to around two hours plus an intermission, so it’s the best of both worlds:  One of literature’s greatest classics, presented in a format that captivates today’s audiences.  One word of warning:  The Old Globe is nestled in a beautiful part of San Diego’s Balboa Park, but the parking is a nightmare.  Allow yourself lots of time to find a place, and be prepared to walk 10 minutes or more to get to the theatre.   8/8 – 9/10 (TheOldGlobe.org).

300-something-rottenSOMETHING ROTTEN – Various:  If the thought of Hamlet is too heavy for a midsummer’s eve, then Something Rotten is the perfect alternative.  A 2015 Broadway favorite, the show traces the misfortunes of the Bottom Brothers (not what you’re thinking) who are trying to produce plays in London in 1595.  No matter how hard they try, they are constantly outgunned by “The Bard.”  Some of the gags benefit from a basic knowledge of Shakespeare, including the title (“There’s something rotten in Denmark” is a line from Hamlet) and characters with names like Shylock and Portia, but most of the gags come closer to slapstick than they do literary wordplay.  The brothers sing, “God, I Hate Shakespeare!” and Shakespeare kicks ass with the rousing “Will Power” – well, you get the idea.  Reverent, it ain’t.  But a whole lot of fun, it is!  Western tour dates include Las Vegas Smith Center 8/8 – 13; San Francisco Orpheum 8/15 – 9/10; Tempe ASU Gamage 10/31 – 11/5; Costa Mesa Segerstrom Center 11/7 – 19; Los Angeles Ahmanson 11/21 – 12/31; and Sacramento Community Center 01/2 – 7.

 300-Curious_IncidentTHE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME – Los Angeles:  People loved Mark Haddon’s book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, about an autistic 15-year-old math genius who is bent on solving the murder of a neighbor’s dog.  The book is told in first person by the boy and depends on seeing life as an autistic boy does, but it seemed an impossible story to transfer to the stage.  However, English playwright Simon Stephens has done so, and his play tied the record for most Olivier Awards when it opened on the West End.   It then opened on Broadway where it earned the 2015 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for “Best Play.”  The playwright has created a play-within-a-play, where the boy’s teacher start’s reading a paper by the boy, then the story unfolds with staged scenes, occasionally crossing back to the schoolroom.  There are also a surprising number of theatrical effects which provide glimpses into the boy’s mind.  Los Angeles Ahmanson 8/2 – 9/10; Costa Mesa Segerstrom Center 9/12 – 17; and Las Vegas Smith Center 9/19 – 24.

300-KEN LUDWIG’S ROBIN HOODKEN LUDWIG’S ROBIN HOOD – San Diego:  In addition to their annual outdoor Shakespeare productions, San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre has been the incubator for a number of productions which have subsequently gone on to Broadway. This month’s production of Robin Hood could well be the next one to move to the Great White Way. Ken Ludwig is considered one of the funniest living playwrights, and his first work, Lend Me A Tenor, is a staple that has been produced by virtually every community theatre in the world.  In his script for Baskerville, which the Old Globe produced in 2015, five actors don silly costumes and speak in even sillier accents to portray some 40 characters in the Sherlock Holmes classic tale.  This year, the same playwright and director are tackling the tale of Robin Hood.  There aren’t many details yet since the script is being finalized, but it should provide an evening of good, swashbuckling fun!  Again, Balboa Park is gorgeous, but parking is a bitch!  The Old Globe through 8/27 (TheOldGlobe.org).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.