Jean Lowerison

THEATER REVIEW: Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

The latest, fresh-from-Broadway version of “Cinderella” offers a lot of visual stimulation (especially in William Ivey Long’s Tony-winning costume designs), a fine cast, the familiar songs from the movie and a new book that combines Hammerstein’s original book with an update by Douglas Carter Beane.

THEATER REVIEW: "Pride And Prejudice, A Musical"

You don’t often see a musical in which the writer of the source material is herself a character, but Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra show up in interesting and amusing ways in Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs’ new musical version of Austen’s beloved novel “Pride and Prejudice.”

THEATER REVIEW: "Unnecessary Farce"

There’s farce as an art form, and there’s farce as nonstop, goofball humor with nary a nod to reality.

Well, maybe “art form” is overstating it, but Playwright Paul Slade Smith nails his intent with the title of his 2006 “Unnecessary Farce,” and the play lives up (or down) to its goal with a crazy story and seven actors accomplished at farce to interpret it. Matthew Wiener (frantically) directs this San Diego premiere through May 10 at North Coast Repertory Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Sondheim On Sondheim”

Sondheim fans will be ecstatic over “Sondheim On Sondheim,” the revue of some of his most popular hits over the years playing through March 1 at the Avo Playhouse.

The show had a limited Broadway run in 2010 and features several songs each from his biggest hit shows (“Company,” “Follies,” and “Into The Woods” among them) along with lesser-known songs from other shows.

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THEATER REVIEW: "The Darrell Hammond Project" at La Jolla Playhouse

Stand-up comic Darrell Hammond holds the record for the longest tenure of any cast member in “Saturday Night Live” history (1995-2009). Probably best known for his impression of Bill Clinton, he is also known for his versions of Al Gore, Sean Connery, Donald Trump and John Travolta.

But the comedy often masked the darkness in his psyche, the result of maternal child abuse that led to drinking, substance abuse, cutting (sometimes backstage at SNL) and visits to 40 psychiatrists over a 30-year period.

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THEATER REVIEW: "Stage Kiss" at New Village Arts Theatre

When is a kiss just a kiss? A frazzled actress – out of the business for some years – is about to find out in Sarah Ruhl’s “Stage Kiss,” in its West Coast premiere through March 1 at New Village Arts Theatre.

She (Ruhl doesn’t name her) blows in late for an audition, reading for the lead in a reworked 1930s melodrama in which a dying woman tells her husband she needs to see a previous lover one last time.

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THEATER REVIEW: "Trouble In Mind" at Moxie Theatre

Comedy and drama, racial tension and brotherhood, truth and lies we must tell collide at Moxie Theatre in the local premiere of Alice Childress’ 1955 “Trouble In Mind.” Delicia Turner Sonnenberg turns in another fine directing job in this play, which runs through Feb. 22.

Childress, probably best known for her teen novel “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich,” was also an actress and civil rights activist. “Trouble In Mind,” in fact, was written the year Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus.

THEATER REVIEW: "Avenue Q" at Coronado Playhouse

Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx had me at “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?”

Lopez and Marx wrote the music and lyrics for “Avenue Q,” the best musical since “West Side Story,” getting a terrific production through Feb. 28 at Coronado Playhouse. The third creative light is Jeff Whitty, who wrote the clever book for the show.

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THEATER REVIEW: 'Tristan & Yseult"

The five-member band plays songs like “Perfidia,” “Reaching For The Moon” and “Only The Lonely” before the show starts, from its perch at the end of a long runway above the stage.

Meanwhile, several anorak- and balaclava-clad actors roam down the theater aisles, binoculars and notebooks in hand, looking for something. These are Lovespotters, hoping to soon relinquish membership in the Club of the Unloved.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Absurd Person Singular”

Addiction, suicide and the precarious nature of social class and status: what better subtexts for a Christmas party? You’ll see three, in fact, alternately hosted and attended over a two-year period, in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absurd Person Singular,” playing through Dec. 7 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. Brian Salmon directs.