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Theatre Talk: A musical trip down memory lane

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

"Blues in the Night" is a winner! While news travels fast when a red-hot musical comes to town, keep in mind this show will only be at North Coast Repertory in Solana Beach until Feb. 12.

It's another breezeless night in the south in the summer of 1930. As the "Hotel" sign flashes in yellow neon below her window, a sultry chanteuse, known only as a "Woman of the World" (Karole Foreman), gazes out her window sipping warm wine lamenting her bad luck. Meanwhile on the floor below a velvety voiced "The Lady from the Road" (Anise Ritchie) waits for her agent to call her with another booking.

Downstairs in the bar is the charismatic "Man in the Saloon" (Elijah Rock). He epitomizes that handsome, low-down, cheatin', heart-breakin' fancy man. He is too fly to stay with just one woman so he shares his charms with all the ladies.

Across the hall, "The Girl with a Date" (Ciarra Stroud) idlily waits. Stroud is perfectly cast as the naïve ingénue. Sweet and likable.

This small but mighty cast was put together by director Yvette Freeman Harley, who stuffed the stage with talent.

Sitting above and behind the singers is conductor/pianist Kevin Toney counting out "3,4,5" as the red-hot musicians hit their licks; Roy Jenkins is on bass, Danny King drums, with Malcom Jones on reeds, and Thomas Alforque finessing the trumpet.

"Blues in the Night" was conceived by and originally directed by Sheldon Epps. Collège Chapman Roberts did the vocal arrangements and acted as musical supervisor. This dynamic duo has earned multiple Tony Award nominations as well as multiple successes on and off Broadway, London's East End, and between them they've pretty much covered the world in song.

For this local production, kudos go to musical director Lanny Hartley, choreographer Roxane Carrasco, and set designer Marty Burnett.

"Blues in the Night" sizzles with snappy tunes and torch songs. It's what's best about the South without the chitlins. There is not a bad seat in the house, so get your tickets at 858-481-1055 or https://northcoastrep.org/. The theatre is at 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr. Suite D, Solana Beach. Lots of free parking, too. Rated 9 out of 10.

Hot off the press! Lamb's Playhouse announced the world premiere opening of R*E*S*P*E*C*T. The preview started Jan. 24 and tickets usually cost less, https://www.lambsplayers.org/. As for me, I'm heading down on Feb. 4 to catch opening night. I'll let you know all about it.

Broadway San Diego is playing "Disney's Frozen" until the 29th. Followed by, for two days only, "Bluey's Big Play," Feb. 24 and 25. For tickets call 619-564-3000, or visit https://www.broadwaysd.com/.

A new dramatic work is opening at The Cygnet Theatre in Old Town, Jan. 25 – Feb. 19. "El Huracán" is written by the celebrated author of "Disney's Encanto," Charise Castro Smith. The theatre is at 4040 Twiggs St. For tickets, call 619-337-1525 or visit https://www.cygnettheare.com.

Diversionary Theatre is still running with their Cabaret nights this month, LGBTQ+. Check it out at 4545 Park Blvd., 619-220-0097 or https://www.diversionary.org.

The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park is reviving an important work by Tony Award winning playwright Mary Zimmerman. "The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci" will be performed at the Prebys Theatre until Feb. 26. Opening Feb. 11 is "Under a Baseball Sky" based on Logan Heights in San Diego. For more information, call 619-234-5623 or visit https://wwwtheoldglobe.org. Make it easy on yourself and buy parking. It's worth it.

New Village Arts in Carlsbad will introduce the West coast opening of "The Ferryman," Jan. 27 to March 5, at 2787 State St.. Carlsbad. For tickets, call 760-433-3245 or visit https://newvillagearts.org/. I'll see it on the 5th of next month.

Scripps Ranch Theatre will open on the 27th of this month with a new musical "Lucky Stiff." When a shoe maker wins a trip to Monte Carlo, things can happen. For tickets, call 858-395-0573 or visit https://scrippsranchtheatre.org/.

San Diego Musical Theatre is bringing back Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" from Feb. 10 to March 12. Just be prepared, there will be lots of tapping. Free parking, at 4650 Mercury St. For tickets, call 858-560-5740 or visit http://www.sdmt.org.

The Welk is back! Opening with "The Marvelous Wonderettes." This smash Off-Broadway hit takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom. We'll meet Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy: four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! As we learn about their lives and loves, the girls serenade us with classic 1950's classic hits including "Lollipop," "Dream Lover," "Stupid Cupid," and "Lipstick on Your Collar, " and 1960's classics "Heatwave," "You Don't Own me," "Son Of A Preacher Man," "Rescue Me," "Respect" and so many more!

The Marvelous Wonderettes will keep you smiling in this musical trip down memory lane from Jan. 28 through March 26, Saturday, 1 p.m./7 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. For complete ticket information, contact the Theatre Box Office at 760-749-3448 or toll free at 1-888-802-7469. You can also visit https://tickets.thewelksandiego.com/. For groups of 15 or more, call 760-749-3182 ext. 22154.

Coming next month to La Jolla Playhouse is the world premiere of "The Outsiders" based on the novel by S.E. Hinton. This new musical will have its out-of-town opening just down the road. Preview starts on Feb. 19; preview tickets are often less. To get yours, visit https://lajollaplayhouse.org/ or call 858-550-1010.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].

 

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