Weekly Magazine



ALL THIS ENERGY at the Santa Cruz Symphony this weekend!







AND PETITE fashionista. Click HERE

Watch HERE







remembering-charles-addams--again--actual-imageOPENING AT CABRILLO STAGE THIS WEEK

THE ADDAMS FAMILY, a new musical comedy written and composed by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, and based on the endearingly ghoulish characters created by Charles Addams, famed New Yorker cartoonist, first in 1932, and then, regularly from 1938 until his death in 1988. For more click HERE


AUDIO RECORDED in Los Angeles, June 4, 2017, it has been discredited for evidence of plagiarism.







APTOS COMPOSER LOU HARRISON’S GAY OPERA, composed in 1971, has advanced in fits and starts, and now opens in what may be its first transcendent production tonight at Walt Disney Hall in LA. John Rockwell reports. Click HERE


WITH ITS SEVERELY LIMITED inclusion of the festival namesake’s music, the shrinking Oregon Bach Festival may offer a cautionary tale. Click HERE


CRITICAL DONALD TRUMP ATTACKS TRUMP CRITICS, noted by Adam Kirsch (who is a professional critic). Meanwhile, Trump voters attack depiction of him as Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, while Trump channels King Lear by requiring that his cabinet genuflect at his feet while cameras rolled. Click HERE


THERE’S a professional choreographer for that. Click HERE




TRUE PLEASURE blew in from Duo Sabȋl—Ahmad Al Kathib and Youssef Hbeisch, oud and percussion respectively—in their new Harmonia Mundi CD, “Zabad, Twilight Tide.” The oud is the deep-throated, fretless Middle Eastern lute—source of our word lute—a collection of nine tracks (62 minutes) that represents “the endurance of Arabic musical tradition.” Here, Duo Sabȋl are joined by Elie Khoury on buzuq, a long-necked, higher pitched lute related to the Greek bouzouki, and Hubert Dupont, double bass, in a swirl of instrumental song and dance of irresistible seduction, pinched exquisitely by the natural scale that sounds out of tune to occidental ears. Most of these tracks begin beguilingly slow then ramp up in pace and swirling energy. Their balance of tradition and improvisation clears the auditory palate just when it needs such cleansing most. Click HERE










Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca RC Brooks, associate editor

Peter and the Starcatcher


By Philip Pearce

WITH ALL THOSE FLOATING GONDOLAS and flying chandeliers late 20th century Broadway offered us hydraulic theatre at its slickest. But early 21st century Broadway seems to be evolving into a riskier age of athletic theatre. More and more it’s all up to the actors. With minimal props and no scenery, Simon Stephens’ prizewinning stage adaptation of Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time features eleven performers whose bodies create settings, set up and take down usable doorways, operate together as a moving passenger train—do physically whatever the script requires at the moment it’s required. They’re on stage not so much as detailed character studies than as active elements in a story-telling structure.

It’s much the same with the show Pacific Rep has just opened at the Golden Bough. There is scenery and the complicated plot deals with characters we’ve met long ago in children’s fiction. And these characters are involved in adventures harking back to the reign of Queen Victoria. But the pervading spirit of can-do improv makes this a very modern play. John Farmanesh-Bocca cleverly directs twelve gifted local actors performing more than thirty roles in an inspired swashbuckling spoof called Peter and the Starcatcher.

Peter is the name eventually given to an angry, repressed, silent and nameless orphan, played by Aaron Kitchin with a brooding sensitivity that contrasts nicely with the bounce and explosive activity of everybody else on stage. He’s one of a trio of workhouse orphans who gets sold to a sea captain as unpaid deckhands aboard a ship called The Neverland. Not surprisingly, the embittered thirteen-year-old boy is convinced that all adults are sadistic liars, so he doesn‘t ever want to grow up. His salvation is the starcatcher of the title, a feisty upper class girl named Molly Aster, played with appealing energy and wit by the delightful Bri Slama. Molly evades her nanny and sneaks out of first-class and down into the hold, where, Wendy-like, she charms the three lost boys by telling them bedtime stories. Her energetic friendship, along with a lot of adventurous nonsense involving a sea-chest filled with stardust and a nervous trainee pirate named Black Stache, turns the orphaned loaner into an airborne daredevil called Peter Pan.

John Newkirk soars gloriously over the top as the blustering but scaredy-cat pirate king Black Stache. Proud of his moustache but struggling with a shaky self-image, Stache is the goofiest in a big roster of goofy characters and Newkirk plays him to the hilt. I was particularly delighted with the moment when, in a neat homage to a classic Marx Brothers routine, he preens in front of a framed mirror that seems at first to hold his strutting reflection—or is that a costumed double (Kitchin) who’s been trained to copy his every move? The fact that this struggling buccaneer has a sidekick named Smee, acted with high-powered smarmy aplomb by Jared W. Hussey, leaves little doubt that when the misused orphan becomes the bumptious Peter Pan, neurotic Stache will lose a hand and blossom into a nasty Captain Hook.

There are eight more actors, each with his own named character and place in the story. Scott McQuiston is wonderful as Molly’s starchy but romantically vulnerable governess Miss Brumbrake. Richard Boynton plays her grubby, flatulent but adoring seagoing suitor Alf. James Brady is Molly’s properly patriotic Victorian papa Lord Aster. Peter’s two orphan sidekicks are identically dressed but nicely individualized by Skip Kadish as the ambitious but clueless Prentiss and Stephen Poletti as the amiable chow-hound Ted. Then there is versatile Michael D. Jacobs in a series of roles, ranging from the sadistic orphanage manager to some pretty dastardly sailors. Bob Colter is also on hand, all fuss and frustration as a sneaky sailor named Slank who really starts the treasure hunt by switching two identical sea-chests.

Peter and the Starcatcher calls for the kind of ensemble work that allows little time for waiting in the wings till you’re cued for your next appearance. Your assigned character may be having a rest, but you are more than likely to be on stage as a roistering pirate or in a hilarious second-act chorus line of fin-waving mermaids.

The overall treasure hunt plot is clear and basic enough, but, if anything, Rick Elice’s adaptation of the Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson novel tricks it out with a few too many clever twists and turns. Act 1 lasts an hour, Act 2, 55 minutes. It’s all live and wonderfully energetic, but maybe goes on ten or twelve minutes too long.

It’s not really a kid’s show either, at least not for the very young. The script is loaded with clever wordplay, clean but tricky double-entendres, historic and literary references and challenging bits of foreign vocabulary. A family with two small girls seated next to me found it all too sophisticated and slipped out during the first act. But if you love the wit and wisdom of J. M. Barrie, as I do, and want to find out how Peter learned to fly and how Hook lost his hand, this is a loud, lively and satisfying evening of fun.

It continues at the Golden Bough through July 16th. Having mounted this funny prequel, PacRep will then offer a full-scale production of Peter Pan in the renovated outdoor Forest Theater opening August 17.