‘The Wiz’ will make the finale to SCP’s 50th season sparkle

By Ande Jacobson

Sunnyvale Community Players (SCP) is pulling out all the stops to close its 50th season. In honor of this auspicious occasion, SCP is mounting a massive production of The Wiz running from 27 April through 19 May 2019. The show isn’t often done, though it tells a familiar story that L. Frank Baum first wrote in 1900 in his children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. There have been numerous treatments of his story in film, on stage, and even in print since then, but The Wiz is unique. It is the MoTown version of the story first seen in Maryland in 1974. It took its place on Broadway in 1975, and since then has enjoyed numerous revivals in Europe and the U.S. showcasing African-American culture. It follows the tale of friendship and hope, featuring Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and of course the illustrious Wiz. The good and bad witches from the original story also make their presence known. There are even flying monkeys. What’s different? The music. The tone. The energy. Continue reading

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Hershey Felder shares his love of Debussy to start TheatreWorks’ 50th year

By Ande Jacobson

TheatreWorks celebrates the start of its 50th year with an incredible gift – the world premiere of Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story. The presentation is immensely personal for Felder and for TheatreWorks Founding Artistic Director, Robert Kelley, to whom Felder dedicates this astounding production. Felder includes the following message in the program:

“I would like to dedicate the creation and the world premiere of A PARIS LOVE STORY to someone who, in his quiet and humble way, has demonstrated that he is the most generous, supportive, kind, thoughtful, sensitive, artistically refined, and genuinely giving artist working among us today – Robert Kelley, TheatreWorks Founding Artistic Director.

“Thank you to Kelley, and everyone at TheatreWorks, for having me for all these years and thank you to audiences who have followed these characters wherever we together have ventured. And now thank you for joining me in Paris. – Hershey Felder”

Continue reading

The Course of Life

Fiction by Ande Jacobson

Ken started on the course early Sunday morning. With the sun slowly rising, illuminating the tiny droplets of dew covering the greens and fairways, Ken adjusted his cap on his neatly trimmed dark brown hair, stretched his long arms, placed his lengthy frame in position to address the ball, and hit his first tee shot. His swing connected beautifully but, alas, he had overcompensated for his nagging slice and severely hooked the ball. Ken watched his ball sail well out to the right until he lost sight of it as it peaked behind the tree line separating the first and ninth fairways.

“Quaaack!” Ken heard as he picked up his clubs. “I must have hit a duck over there,” he thought.

Since he went out as a single in the early mornings, he didn’t have to wait for other members of a foursome. He walked through the tree line and halfway down the ninth fairway following the flight path of his ball. He spotted the ball lying atop the single mound in the center of the fairway and looked around but couldn’t find any obvious evidence of the duck he thought the ball struck in flight. Continue reading

Taming the Savage Spring

Fiction by Ande Jacobson

Thomas Drummond peered through the lobby door at the gray sky and the slick walkway winding through the parking lot outside of his Drummond Software Solutions (DSS) headquarters in Guttersburg, Maryland. He couldn’t tell how much of the reflection off the pavement was water and how much was ice, but he couldn’t wait any longer. He had to get to his appointment. He always dreaded the dangers that awaited him just beyond the lobby during the savage spring. This was the most treacherous time of the year, late March.

It was still cold enough at times to encounter a thin layer of ice on the pavement in the early morning or at night, but it was often warm enough during the heat of the day to spark a change in the air. For many, spring meant an awakening as the flowers started to bloom and wildlife cycles began anew. While beautiful from a distance, sometimes that awakening could get just a little too close, which made spring more dangerous than winter, at least some of the time. Continue reading

The ‘Shrek’ pit chronicles

By Ande Jacobson

Shrek the Musical is one of those shows that people seem to either love or hate. The story started as a book by William Steig in 1990, became a DreamWorks Animation film in 2001, and finally in December 2008 opened on Broadway as the aforementioned musical. A video of the Broadway production was later released in 2013 on DVD, Blu-ray, and as a digital download. It’s also one of those shows that keeps popping up around the country and around the world in various productions at all levels. Because it features a large cast and is very family friendly, it is a frequent favorite among youth theaters. It also continues to attract adult community theaters and even regional professional companies. Given its ubiquity, one would expect this show to be a perennial crowd favorite, and yet, within the theater community, it evokes strong reactions, both positive and negative. Continue reading

PYT brings back the not-so-little ogre that could in Shrek

Licensed by MTI.

By Ande Jacobson

It’s time again to visit that loveable band of misfits in a story that turns a well-known fairytale concept upside down. Peninsula Youth Theatre (PYT) is mounting a colorful production of Shrek the Musical based on the 2001 DreamWorks animated film Shrek and the 1990 book Shrek!. The stage version has music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, and the show has all the charm of the animated film. Continue reading

Follow Peter Green into AfterLife, his new, “unliving” state of being

By Ande Jacobson

Peter Green and the Unliving Academy is Angelina Allsop’s first published book, initially offered under the title The Dead Orphanage, and it is also the first in her Young Adult (YA), AfterLife fantasy series. The book is filled with Allsop’s unique view of “AfterLife,” as distinguished from “Life.” There are plenty of otherworldly creatures such as werewolves, witches, vampires, poltergeists, skeletons, zombies, and ghosts, as well as a full assortment of “unliving” humans not possessing any special powers when compared to their peers. Of course, all of the unliving can do a few things unheard of in the living world. Continue reading

To rewrite or not to rewrite, that is the question

By Ande Jacobson

As time marches forward, so too does a society’s use of language. Often, texts and artistic works from an earlier time can provide an interesting look into that past’s lexicon. In many ways, they can also provide a view of the social fabric of the societies in which the works originated. Over time, various words either fall out of favor, or take on new or different meanings. Additionally, the sensibilities of cultures also change. When a theater company chooses to mount a production of a work either from the past directly, or one that is based on a work from the past, should they modify the language, and/or characterizations, to conform to the cultural sensitivities of current time? Continue reading

Would you spend the end of the world on Ok Cupid?

By Ande Jacobson

The Pear Theatre shines a unique light on social media with its current production. Since the advent of social media, the psychology world has had a field day running studies that claim to prove exposure to social media increases depression, decreases depression, makes people feel more connected, makes people feel more lonely, etc. In other words, whatever you want to prove, there’s a study out there for you. In 2016, Jeffrey Lo’s new play, Spending the End of the World on Ok Cupid, debuted at Ohlone College where it had been commissioned. The story takes an unusual look at the world of social media, and specifically an application called Ok Cupid (disclaimer from The Pear: “Spending the End of the World on Ok Cupid is not produced or endorsed by, or in any way affiliated with Match Group, LLC, or Humor Rainbow Inc., the exclusive owners of the OKCUPID® trademarks”). The premise is that a modern day prophet predicted the end of the world after he first correctly predicted that half of the world’s population would disappear in an event known as “the vanishing.” With only 12 hours left to exist, disoriented people who’ve lost loved ones and friends to the vanishing take to their phones and computers to create profiles on Ok Cupid. Each is looking to make some kind of connection one last time before whatever is going to happen, happens. Continue reading

‘Frost/Nixon’ – a wily game of cat and mouse at TheatreWorks

By Ande Jacobson

News as entertainment isn’t a new phenomenon. In the 1970s, a real-life crime drama took center stage when the Watergate investigation jumped into high gear, ultimately resulting in the first ever resignation of a U.S. President. The crimes took place in the months leading up to the 1972 general election, but the public’s outrage didn’t reach record levels until two years later, when the latest TheatreWorks production’s story begins. The 2006 play, Frost/Nixon, written by Peter Morgan, opens with Nixon’s 8 August 1974 announcement that he would resign. The end of an era perhaps, but the beginning of a great hunger amongst the U.S. public. A hunger that would only be satiated if, and when, President Nixon did three things:

  1. Admit that he committed criminal acts of wrongdoing.
  2. Admit that he abused the power he had as president.
  3. Apologize for the agony that he inflicted upon the American public.

A tall order for a man who famously answered an interview question with “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Of course, in follow-up discussion on that answer, he added that he came to realize that not everyone agreed with him on that particular point. Continue reading