Featured photo for A Hammer A Bell review

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.

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It’s easy to like Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna. For one thing, they’re incredibly personable on stage. For another, they’re still obviously in love after 47 years of marriage. But, what seals the deal is that they’re funny – ranging from knowing-smile funny to chuckle funny, to laugh-out-loud funny, to guffaw funny. All of these kinds of funny are amply on display in the couple’s latest show, If Ever You Leave Me … I’m Going With You!, performing through November 11 at the Welk Resorts Theatre.

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Around the World in 80 Days featured

Jules Verne’s story, Around the World in 80 Days, has been dismissed as an adventure tale aimed at boys, but it has proven to hold appeal for audiences of all ages. That appeal continues as Lamb’s Players Theatre mounts the West Coast premiere of Laura Eason’s adaptation of the novel.

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ion Theatre’s Claudio Raygoza has created Julia, a world premiere version of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. His creation contains a cup of its original author, two cups of Tennessee Williams, and a pinch of Mexican telenovelas. And, in his title character he’s given company stalwart Catalina Maynard a bitch-goddess role worthy of her considerable talents.

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You’ve probably guessed that we’ve got a satire going here, and, in fact, there’s quite a few laugh-out-loud lines. There’s also some pretty good send-ups of media conventions, some references to Obama and Romney that will be dated in six weeks, a funny “debate” about religion, and a lot of references that theatre insiders will catch. In fact, if audiences for The Exit Interview could consist entirely of other actors, it would be uproarious.

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Wendy Maples

The opening number of Pippin, Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hinson’s 1970s-era musical, is titled “Magic To Do.” Invoking magic in the opening number sets a high bar to jump, and Diversionary Theatre’s production, while solid, doesn’t rise to the level of magic. It has become fashionable to re-think Pippin, whose score by the composer…

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