Posts Tagged ‘play review’

San Diego Weekend: Coronado and ‘The Cradle Will Rock’

The beach with the Hotel Del Coronado in the distance

The beach with the Hotel Del Coronado in the distance

This weekend, I went down to San Diego to see a friends’ play, The Cradle Will Rock, and my friends showed me around the city with a fun driving tour and a walk around Coronado Island.

The fun started at the beginning of my day, though, when I got to go to my favorite brunch spot, Plums, in Costa Mesa. Plums has amazing eggs, pancakes and waffles, and Evan and I were regulars when I lived in Orange County. It can be a wait, but it’s always worth it, especially for the enormous Dutch baby (a kind of baked pancake souffle). This visit, my sister Michelle and I shared the shirred eggs and a lemon meringue waffle, which were both delicious.

flowersThen we headed down to San Diego, where Michelle goes to school and where I was visiting my friends Lindsey and Sean. They took me on a driving tour through University Heights, Old Town, Downtown and plenty of other neighborhoods before we crossed over the big bridge to Coronado Island. We got out and checked out the historic and lovely Hotel Del Coronado, with its stately white wood and red roofed exterior and dark wood interior. We walked down the beach, where we watched kids jumping across rocks, and we wandered through some of the residential streets, which had beautiful houses with very pretty gardens.

We grabbed a quick dinner at the Village Pizzeria before heading downtown to see The Cradle Will Rock, a musical Lindsey directed that’s still running for a few more weeks at the Tenth Street Theater if you’d like to catch it. The play is about the Depression, unions and selling out, and it focuses on the story of corporate big-shot Mr. Mister and his cronies who put their morals aside for money, and Larry Foreman, on the other side, leading union efforts.

I didn’t know about the play before, but Lindsey filled me in on some of its history, which is just as interesting as the show itself. The initial, federally-funded run of the show in 1937 was shut down because of its pro-labor/pro-communist leanings, and the cast performed the newly banned play from the audience of another theater in an impromptu gathering. There’s a fictionalized version of the story in the Tim Robbins film Cradle Will Rock, which I’ll be adding to my Netflix queue.

The play felt very much like an impromptu performance, with a minimal set and props, actors performing multiple roles and a piano-playing narrator who also took on some small parts. There were quite a few times during the performance when the actors came right up to the edge of the audience, and it felt like they were speaking and singing directly to each of us individually.

If you’re in the area, the play is worth checking out, and tickets are $25 presale or pay-what-you-can at the door.

the cradle will rock

Check out a few more San Diego photos on Flickr.

Fun Foray Into Indie Theater: ‘Months on End’

Friday, Evan and I went to support our friend Aaron in a play. We didn’t know what to expect — the last time I went to support a friend of a friend in a play, he only showed up in the last scene and played a mute. Seriously. In any case, our experience Friday couldn’t have been more different.

We showed up at the Tre Stage, upstairs in a strip mall at La Brea and Sunset, and were greeted at the door by a nice little crowd of theater-goers. We paid our $15 and were immediately offered a glass of wine at no charge. We soon got to go into the theater itself, a small room, painted black, with two rows of bench seats in an ‘L’ around the stage.

After passing the wine bottles around again for pre-show refills, the lights dimmed in the intimate black box theater, and the show started with a short slide show and music.

As suggested by the title, “Months on End,” the play follows a year in the life of its characters — relatives and friends — whose lives are all intertwined. It starts with a New Year’s Eve party in January, and introduces the characters a few at a time, month-by-month, as their stories unfold. We were given glimpses of relationships growing and of others falling apart, the anxieties of twentysomethings, and the ways our lives can change instantly.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments, like a college graduation speech gone awry in a nearly “I Love Lucy” fashion, and a blow-out over a chipped Yellow Submarine collector’s item which results in the most hilarious tirade of the night but also proves poignant, as it marks a turning point in a marriage. There are also touching tear-up points, like rehearsing a young friend’s eulogy. And it’s the mix of comedy, tragedy and uncertainty that make the play transcend its barren stage and feel very real.

The play’s reality and humanity also come from its good writing and strong performances. The cast is packed with theater majors, most of whom have MFAs, who inject a lot of personality and compassion into their characters. The music selection — songs to set the tone before each scene — was also a great mix. I would love to have the playlist.

The play only has two more showings, this Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, so do check it out if you’re looking for something to do this weekend. Just remember not to wear anything too warm — the audience sits so close, they’re under the same hot lights the actors are; and go to the bathroom before the hour-and-a-half performance — otherwise you’ll be trying to sneak across the stage to the door.

Show info:

What: Months on End by Craig Pospisil
When:
Friday, September 16, 2008 at 8:00 p.m./Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Tre Stage, 1523 N. La Brea, Studio 210, Los Angeles, CA
How much: $15

Starring:

Elaine – Elizabeth Chomko
Walter – Brian Bitner
Phoebe – Adrian Lynn
Tony – Brace Harris
Ben – Aaron Shact
Nick – Michael Miller
Paige – Rachael Kemery
Heidi – Caitlin Leonard
Gwen – Karla Holland
Chris – Clyde Small

Directed by Kunal Nayyar
Produced by Chancellor Dean